FAQ Adjustment of Status


What is the Adjustment of Status?

The Adjustment of Status (AOS) refers to the procedure that allows foreign nationals already in the United States, who are eligible to receive an immigrant visa and for whom immigrant visa number is immediately available, to apply for immigrant status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

Adjustment of status within the United States is available for immediate relatives of spouses or parents of the United States citizens provided the intended immigrant entered with a visa, even though the intended immigrant’s authorized stay has expired. The adjustment of status is the final stage of the Green Card application. After the completion of this process, the applicant becomes a lawful permanent resident of the United States. An applicant can opt either for I-485 application or Consular Processing (CP).

  1. File form I-485: In this case, the applicant can file for adjustment of status using form I485 and for family members while in the United States.
  2. Consular Processing: In this case, the applicant can apply for adjustment of status at the United States Consular office in their home country. Adjustment of Status is a procedure allowing certain foreign nationals already in the United States to apply for immigrant status. Foreign nationals admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant, refugee, or parolee category may have their status changed to a United States lawful permanent resident if they are eligible to receive an immigrant visa which is immediately available.

What is the purpose of the I-485 application to adjust status to United States permanent residence?

An application to Adjust Status (I-485) to Permanent Residence is a way to process the final stage of the permanent residence process for a foreign national who is already present in the United States and wish to change from his/her current immigration status in the U.S.

The foreign national must have been maintaining valid immigration status to be eligible. Adjust Status allows to submit applications for employment authorization, travel permission, along with proof of financial support. This Adjust Status process involves filing the petitions and applications with supporting documents, getting fingerprinted, attending an interview, and answering any requests for additional evidence issued by the United States citizenship and immigration services.

What are the requirements of the Adjustment of Status?

Adjustment of status refers to the procedure for becoming a lawful United States permanent resident without leaving the United States. It should be distinguished from the method of getting a permanent residence, which involves applying for an immigrant visa at a consular post abroad.

  1. the intended Immigrant makes an application for such adjustment;
  2. the intended Immigrant is eligible to receive an immigrant visa and is admissible to the United States for permanent residence, and
  3. An immigrant visa is immediately available to Her/him at the time of application has filed.

Can I file I-485 if I am already in the United States as a spouse of United States citizen?

Yes, you may be eligible to apply for adjustment to permanent resident status if you are already in the United States and if one or more of the following categories apply to you. 

  • You are the spouse
  • parent
  • Unmarried child under age 21
  • Unmarried Son or Daughter over age 21
  • Married Son or Daughter
  • Brother or Sister of a United States citizen and have a visa petition approved on your behalf.
  • If you are the spouse or unmarried son or daughter of any age of a lawful permanent resident and you have a family-based visa petition approved on your behalf.

My spouse is U.S. Citizen, can I apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence if i have entered the U.S on K-1 fiancée visa?

You can apply for adjustment of status to permanent residence if you were a fiancée when you entered into the United States on a K-1 visa and then get married to United States citizen who applied for the K-1 visa for you.  Your minor children and unmarried are eligible for adjustment of status. If you did not marry the United States citizen who filed the K-1 fiancee petition on your behalf, or if you married another United States citizen or lawful permanent resident, you are not eligible to file adjust status in the United States If you get married the United States citizen but not within the ninety-day time limit, your spouse must now file with USCIS.

Does availability of a Visa numbers is required for Adjustment of Status?

You can apply for Adjustment of Status once your immigrant visa I-130 petition gets approved by the USCIS and an immigrant visa number are readily available to you. The visa numbers are limited by immigration law for certain permanent residents so even if the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) has approved your I-130 immigrant visa petition, you may not get an immigrant visa number immediately. In a few cases, you have to wait long until USCIS approves your I-130 immigrant visa petition and the DOS gives you an immigrant visa number for I-485 approval.

As a K-3 visa holder, do I need an immigrant visa numbers to apply for I-485?

If you apply for an adjustment of status, an immigrant visa must be immediately available to the intended Immigrant when his/her adjustment application is filed. This is not a problem in the case of a K-3 or K-1 Visa holders, because an unlimited number of permanent residence cards can be issued to immigrants who are immediate relatives, i.e. spouses. An adjustment of status application should be filed with the USCIS district director in the district of the applicant's residence.

What is the requirement of Grounds of Admissible for the I-485 application?

The I-485 applicant should be "admissible", i.e. he or she is not subject to the grounds of inadmissibility. Generally, foreigners in the United States without having been inspected or paroled are regarded inadmissible. The ineligibility to filing I-485 application include:

  • An intended Immigrant entered the country in an illegal way or in transit without a visa;
  • The intended Immigrant is employed in the United States without USCIS approval. But this rule is not applicable for a person if he or she is an immediate relative of a United States citizen;
  • The intended Immigrant cannot adjust status if the intended Immigrant is now or before has been out of status, or if the intended Immigrant has ever broken the rules and terms of a non-immigrant visa, which requires that the adjustment of status applicant has never violated his/her status.

What are the exceptions to the I-485 application requirement of maintaining lawful status in the United States?

The following individuals are not required to maintain lawful status in order to adjust their status to the U.S permanent resident within the United States:

  • Immediate relatives of the U.S citizens;
  • Foreign medical graduates
  • Special immigrant children
  • Former employees of international organizations and family members
  • Immigrants who have served honourably in the U.S military.

What are the benefits of filing application for Adjustment of Status (I-485)?

The benefits of Adjustment of Status include:

  1. You can maintain valid status in the United States while your I-485 Adjustment of Immigration Status application is being processed;
  2. You can file Adjustment of Status application concurrently with immediate relative green card petitions, and employment-based first, second, and third preference categories.
  3. You and your spouse are permitted to apply for an Employment Authorization Document as work permit, and take employment while your Adjustment of Status is pending.

Where to file the adjustment of status(I-485) application?

The adjustment of status(I-485) applications are normally submitted to the USCIS Service Center. Generally, applications have submitted by mail and USCIS send the approval notices either by mail or after an interview at one of the USCIS district offices. If all the procedures go well, the applicant can accomplish the permanent resident status (Green Card) in the United States by stamping the immigrant visa in his/her passport.

When can I file the application to adjust status to Permanent Residence?

The adjustment of status application can be filed after the I-130 approval, or simultaneously with the I-130 visa petition. However, there are times when the I-485 and I-130 visa cannot be filed together, often the immigrant visa is not yet available, or your visa priority date is not current in the visa bulletin.

What do you mean by the immediate availability of a visa?

 This Adjustment of status application (I-485) requirement can be satisfied in one of two ways. The first way relates to immediate relatives of the U.S. citizens who always have a visa immediately available. The second way represents individuals who qualify for either employment-based or family-based visas preferences and current visa priority dates.

What are the eligibility categories to file Adjustment of status application (I-485)?

You can file (AOS) form I-485 under one of the following categories below:

  • Parents, spouse, unmarried daughters/sons under age 21years of the U.S citizen with an approved or concurrently filed Form I-130;
  • Form I-485 is based on an underlying Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Intended Immigrant Worker;
  • The beneficiary of an approved Form I-130 filed by a qualifying relative, qualifying derivative, the family-based beneficiary
  • K-1 Fiancé(e) (and K-2 dependents) whose Form I-485 is based on an approved Form I-129F, and applicants who are beneficiaries of an approved Form I-360, like a battered spouse or children
  • Diversity lottery winners are eligible to file AOS Form I-485.

What are the exceptions for the application I-485 fees?

The exceptions for the I-485 and biometrics fee are listed below:

  • There is no fee for applicants those who are filing Form I-485 based on having been admitted to the U.S as a refugee
  • Applicants of 80 years of age or older don’t have to pay for the biometric fee.
  • Applicants under 14 years:
  • Filing with the I-485 application of at least one parent has a fee with a discount.

Can my fiancé/ fiancée or spouse leave the U.S and re-enter while the adjustment of status application is pending in USCIS?

Well, My answer is very simple here. Yes, for the K-3 spouse and No for the K-1 fiancee /fiance who get married in the U.S.

K-3 Visa has multiple re-entry advantages, and if your spouse wants to leave the U.S while his/her application is pending with USCIS, then it will not be viewed as an abandonment of the Adjustment of Status petition.

Under 8 CFR §245.2(a)(4)(ii), an Adjustment of Status petition will be deemed abandoned if the fiancé/ fiancée departs the U.S while waiting for approval of the application.

The K-1 visa holder can get the Advance Parole before he/she leaving the U.S to make sure the Adjustment of Status application will not be considered as abandoned.

How could F4 India Attorneys help me with my I-485 application?

Our Immigration Attorneys team have wide experience in handling Adjustment of Status cases, they provide legal advice and representation on a full range of complex and routine AOS case. complete assistance for preparation and submission of AOS based cases is provided by our US-based Immigration attorneys. The complete process starts with eligibility check for adjustment of status, suggesting the most appropriate option and documentary requirements, USCIS follow-ups, Fulfilling the requests for evidence (RFEs) asked by USCIS, Interview Preparation, and If required Attorneys do file motions to reopen after an AOS denial.

The most important part when you hire an attorney is to have the appropriate knowledge in regard to what option is the best suited for you depending on your situation and current US immigration law, here our attorneys play an important role by providing you best advice like when to apply for employment and travel authorization documents, also they can represent individuals at local USCIS office interviews.

We also provide a detailed explanation of the Form I-485 application process, application checklist, Work Permit, and Travel Document (Advance Parole) application instructions and samples, and how to remove the conditions on permanent residence for an intended Immigrant’s spouse. 

What are the three and ten years of inadmissible requirements?

Under the Illegal Immigration Reform, Immigrant Act of 1996, aliens who have departed from the U.S after being unlawfully present in the U.S will be barred from admission to lawful permanent resident status, even if they have obtained Advance Parole. Aliens who have been unlawfully present in the U.S for more than six months, but less than one year, are inadmissible for three years; those who have been unlawfully present for one year or more

are inadmissible for ten years. Aliens those who are unlawfully present in the U.S, then depart the U.S and afterward re-enter under a grant of parole, may still be ineligible to adjust their status.

Who are not eligible for adjustment of status?

  • If you entered the U.S. in transit without a visa.
  • If you entered the U.S. as a nonimmigrant crewman.
  • If you were not admitted or paroled following an inspection by an immigration officer (entered without inspection EWI)
  • If your authorized stay get expired before you filed adjustment of status application.
  • If You were employed in the U.S. prior to filing this application, without USCIS authorization. 
  • If you otherwise failed to maintain your nonimmigrant status, other than through no fault of your own or technical reasons
  • If you are an international organization employee or a derivative family member of the same.
  • If you are a foreign medical graduate in the United States on a J-1 visa and you have not obtained a waiver of the 2 years home residency requirement.
  • If you are or were a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor, are subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement and have not complied with or been granted a waiver of the requirement.
  • If you are in A, E, or G nonimmigrant status, or have an occupation which would allow you to have this status unless you complete Form I-508 (I-508F for French nationals) to wave diplomatic rights, privileges, and immunities. 
  • If ou were admitted to the United States as a visitor under the Visa Waiver Pilot Program unless you are applying because you are an immediate relative of the United States citizen (spouse, parent, widow, widowed, or unmarried child under 21 years old).
  • If you were admitted as a K-1 fiancé(e) but didn’t marry the U.S. citizen who has filed the petition for you or were admitted as the K-2 child of a fiancé(e) and your parent did not marry the United States citizen who has filed the visa petition.
  • If you were convicted of a crime unless you apply for and receive a waiver.
  • If you have worked illegally in the United States (without proper employment authorization) unless you are the immediate relative (spouse, parent, or child under 21) of a U.S. citizen.

What type of documents are required if my dependents are eligible for the I-485 application?

Each family member who wants to become a U.S permanent residence must have to file a separate I-485 application. The I-485 adjustment process involves the investigation of an individual's identity, criminal background, health, and the ability of financial support in the U.S.

What kind of legal documents are required for me and my family to file the I-485 application?

You and family members must have birth certificates (names should be matched with passports), marriage certificates and other relevant documents You must have all vaccinations records.

What happens after I-485 approval?

USCIS sends the Approval Notice/Welcome Notice to the intended Immigrant. You can visit the local United States Citizenship and Immigration Services office with this notice and get a Permanent Residence stamp in your passport, which can be used to prove eligibility for all benefits to which the United States permanent residence entitles you. This temporary stamp is normally for one year, but the status does not expire even if the stamp does. The foreign national will receive the actual permanent residence card (Green Card) in the mail, normally it takes one to six months from the date of the approval.

If USCIS has approved my application for adjusting status (I-485), how long this is valid?

The I-485 Permanent Residence status is valid indefinitely, as long as permanent residence is not abandoned through the absence of six months or longer from the U.S.

Hello, my name is Kundan Sharma and I have applied the U.S Green Card for my wife, the petition I-130 has been approved by USCIS. But we were told that the I-485 application is in the process of background checks by the FBI, after their fingerprinting. how do they check the background, and how long the process may take?

All applicants for United States Immigration Benefit are subject to a criminal and national security background check to ensure they are eligible for that benefit. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the federal agency that monitors immigration benefits, examines every applicant irrespective of caste, national origin, or religion. FBI name checks are also required for most applications. The FBI Name Check is very different from the FBI fingerprint check. Records kept in the FBI name investigation process include the administrative, applicant, criminal, employee, and other files created by law enforcement companies. Initial reactions to this test usually take two weeks. In about 80 percent of cases, no match is found. Most of the remaining 20 percent are resolved in six months. Less than one percent of cases under an FBI name investigation has been pending for more than six months. Some of these cases contain complex, highly sensitive information and it can't be fixed quickly. Even after the FBI provided a response to USCIS regarding the match, the name investigation is not completed until full information is received and eligibility issues are resolved.

My name is Lisa and I'm a US citizen. My daughter is in the United States and she got married. How can she adjust her status in the United States if USCIS has approved her petition I-130? In other words, what is the availability of a visa number for her? And what will be the process of adjusting the status for her? 

To get a Green Card or adjust status in the U.S, an immigrant visa number must be readily available for her. Each year, a certain number of immigrant visas are available for intended immigrants. The available immigrant visa numbers and their current "priority dates" can be checked at the monthly Visa Bulletin issued by the DOS. The Priority Date is the date when she has filed an immigrant visa petition with the USCIS. Therefore, she can apply to adjust status only when her priority date is "current". The immediate relatives of the United States Citizens are exempted from this requirement as they are not subject to the immigrant visa quota system. But other relatives of United States Citizens, such as United States citizen's married child or United States citizen's brother or sister, are subject to the immigrant visa quota system. By filing USCIS form I-485 - Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, she can adjust her status to a lawful permanent resident within the U.S, if she can meet the requirements and is not subject to any ground of inadmissibility. Also, she needs to submit other mandatory forms, relevant documents, and application fees to USCIS.