The term adjustment of status refers to the process that allows you to apply for legal permanent residence to obtain the Green Card in the United States. This immigration process is carried out by foreigners who are already within the US.
If you or a family member needs help to process the adjustment of status, contact one of our expert immigration attorneys. We have been serving the Latino community in the Los Angeles area for over 40 years.
The adjustment of status can be requested without the immigrant having to return to their country of origin to complete the visa application process. It is a different process to the consular processing that must be done from abroad, through an embassy or consulate.
What is an adjustment of status?
Through adjustment of status, an eligible person who is already present in the United States can obtain the permanent residence card. One of the benefits of state adjustment is that it allows the foreigner to remain within the US. even after your nonimmigrant visa expires.
The adjustment of status is one of the two options that the immigrant has to obtain the Green Card. The other option offered by the Citizenship and Immigration Law (INA) is the consular process. Although consular processing and adjustment of status require the same eligibility requirements, they have different deadlines. However, they differ in terms of documentation, application forms, deadlines and costs.
Who is eligible for a status adjustment?
Before requesting the adjustment of status, the immigrant must ensure that there is a green card or a visa number available. In these cases it is always advisable to consult a good Los Angeles immigration lawyer to carry out the process correctly.
Those who can request the adjustment of status must belong to one of these preference categories:
For a family-based Green card, close relatives of a citizen or legal permanent resident qualify. That is, the spouse, the children, the father or any other close relative. The adjustment of status for this category is requested through Form I-130, Application for a Foreign Family Member.
We recently published an article that tells step by step how to fill out the I-130 form. We invite you to read it and if you have questions or need assistance, do not hesitate to contact us.
For this type of employment-based immigrant visa, the immigrant must be requested by a sponsor or employer. Professionals who stand out for their skills can also obtain it on their own. The employment-based status adjustment is requested through Form I-140, Petition for Foreign Worker.
If you wish to obtain more information about these two previous points, do not hesitate to visit our article “Visas for the USA“
Special categories of immigrants
Certain immigrants can process the adjustment of status through Form I-360, Petition for an Amerasian, Widower or Special Immigrant. Another person can also process it in your name.
There are other kinds of immigrants who may also qualify to obtain legal permanent residence for humanitarian reasons. For example, the beneficiaries of asylum or refuge in the United States. Likewise, through the diversity visa lottery.
To process the adjustment of status, the immigrant must have entered the US with a valid visa or through the visa waiver program. Generally, when the adjustment of status is requested for the first time, the applicant must have legal status. Therefore, it is very important, before starting this process to consult the subject with an expert immigration lawyer.
The exception is when the adjustment of status is requested by marriage to a US citizen. In this case you can request this immigration process even if the foreigner has run out of visa. The only requirement is that you must have initially entered the United States with a valid visa or a visa exemption.
Requirements for adjustment of status
There are certain common requirements for the application for adjustment of status. Although depending on the type of immigrant who requests it, more requirements will be added than those mentioned below:
- Request Form Complete the form I-485.
- Rate payment as appropriate, by check or money order, in the name of the Department of Homeland Security.
- Copy of the birth certificate.
- 2 recent passport photos.
- Copy of the nonimmigrant visa, if issued by the American embassy or consulate within 365 days prior to the request for adjustment of status.
- Biographical information. Applicants between the ages of 14 and 79 must complete and attach Form G-325 A.
- Medical and vaccine history. Complete Form I-693. All persons requesting permanent residence must have an immigration medical exam. The following USCIS link provides more details about the requirements required for the medical examination.
- Copy of Form I-94, Registration of Entry and Exit to evidence the applicant’s immigration status in the US.
- Notification of having received the package. It is convenient to make sure that USCIS received the package sent. The agency can be asked to confirm it by email or by SMS, through Form G-1145.
Steps to follow for adjustment of status
There are a number of steps to present the adjustment of status in order to opt for the Permanent Residence Card. These steps must be followed correctly, because a simple mistake can spoil the entire process. To avoid mistakes, the expert immigration lawyers of Lluis Law in Los Angeles, help our clients in this process.
1. Determine if you are eligible to apply for the green card
Eligibility requirements will vary depending on the category of immigrant you are in. This first step can be checked in the previous section of this same article called “Who is eligible for a status adjustment?”
Once you have identified your category you will have a link to the form with the requirements or you can do a search of them.
2. Both you and another person can file a petition on your behalf
The usual thing for most people is to have to submit 2 forms. On the one hand an immigrant petition and at the same time the Green Carde application (Form I-485). Normally someone will file the petition for you, what is known as sponsorship or asking someone. The most common forms in these cases are the following:
- Form I-130, Petition of a Foreign Family Member
- Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker
- Form I-730, Petition for Refugee/Asylum Relatives
Other requests include:
- Form I-360, Petition of Amerasian, Widower, or Special Immigrant
- Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Foreign Entrepreneur
- Form I-918, Petition for Nonimmigrant Status U
- Form I-929, Petition of Qualified Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant
Most categories require an approved immigrant petition before they can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. However, other categories will allow you to present both at the same time or while the petition is pending. It is what is known as the joint process.
Some categories such as the Cuban Adjustment Law do not require an immigrant petition as a basis.
3. Check visa availability
As a general rule you cannot submit form I-485 until a visa is available in your category. Please check the visa bulletin on the official page of the State Department.
It is important to mention that not all immigrant categories require the availability of a visa to apply for a green card.
4. Submission of form I-485
If you are in the US and you are eligible to adjust your status you can submit form I-485.
It is important to emphasize that if you are going to request an adjustment of status to be a permanent resident under Section 245 (i) of the Immigration and Nationality Law, you must complete both Form I-485 and Supplement A of Form I-485, Adjustment of Status Under Section 245 (i).
5. Go to your appointment at the Request Assistance Center
After you have submitted your I-485 form, you will be sent a notification for your biometric services appointment at an Application Assistance Center (ASC) to provide your fingerprints, signature and photograph. The notification will indicate the date, time and place of the appointment. This biometric data is used for safety and to check possible backgrounds.
At the appointment at the ASC you will be signed a consent certifying that you have reviewed all the information submitted and it is true. If you do not sign this or do not show up for your appointment, you are likely to deny your request for form I-485.
6. Go to the interview (if any)
The USCIS officers will determine if your case requires an interview. If such an interview is scheduled, you will have to answer the questions of these officers under oath or make a statement related to your I-485 form.
Do not forget you or the family member who sponsors you to bring all the original documentation presented on the form I-485. That is, official travel documents, passports and the I-94 form has expired or not.
7. Respond if applicable, to additional evidence requests
You can request this in the following cases:
- You did not send all the requested evidence.
- The evidence you submitted is no longer valid.
- To determine your eligibility, the officer has considered that he needs more information.
The petition will indicate what evidence is required, where to send it and the deadline to respond to the request. If you do not respond to this request, you may be denied the request.
8. Verify the status of your case
To do this, you can check online or call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283. For people with disabilities: (TTY) 800-767-1833.
Have your receipt number, Number A, name and date of birth available to be able to provide it to the USCIS officer serving you.
9. Get the decision
The decision will be received in writing as soon as USCIS has processed it.
If it has been approved, you will receive notification about this and then the permanent resident green card.
If your request is denied, you will also be notified along with the reasons that caused the denial. You will also be told if you can appeal that decision.
You usually cannot appeal the decision but you can file an immigration appeal to have your case reconsidered.
What is form I-485?
Through Form I-485, the adjustment of status or legal permanent residence in the United States is requested. When this form is submitted, it means that both the immigrant’s request and the request for adjustment of status are being processed jointly. The corresponding fees are also sent for each procedure along with the supporting documentation. In this way, the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) receives the application and processes it.
When to submit the Form I-485?
This form should generally be submitted when there is a visa available for the category of the applicant. The timing of submitting the application form will depend on the reason described by the immigrant to apply for permanent residence (Green Card).
For example, the spouse of a Green Card holder who is in the F2A preference category, must wait for a visa number to be available to him / her. The sending of the documents to request the Green Card will be subject to the moment in which the visa bulletin of the State Department indicates that the immigrant already has a visa number.
The visa number will be available according to the priority date established for the applicant. However, in certain exceptional cases in which the adjustment of status can be requested at the same time as applying for permanent residence. For example, for spouse requests, unmarried children under 21, or parents of a US citizen.
Cost of form I-485
According to the applicant the cost of the process may vary to request the Status Adjustment:
- Under 14 years old who applies with one of his parents: $ 750.
- Under 14 who applies without parents: $ 1,140.
- People between the ages of 14 and 78: $ 1,225, including biometric service.
- Persons 79 years of age or older: $ 1,140.
- People admitted as refugees: they do not pay.
In certain circumstances, certain immigrants may request a waiver to be exempted from the fee payment. But before requesting it, the foreigner must consult an immigration lawyer who is an expert in adjustment of status. The waiver request could mean the rejection of the request for adjustment of status due to public charge rule.
The cost of the I-485 form must be paid by personal check, money order or through a credit card. In addition, Form G-1450 would have to be filled out. If the adjustment of status is not approved, the cost of the fee is not refundable.
Consular process to obtain the adjustment of status
If your immigration lawyer tells you that your case does not apply to request adjustment of status, the other option is the consular processing. For which the immigrant must leave the United States.
The problem to meet this requirement arises when the immigrant has been illegally in the US for more than 180 days. Immigration law establishes penalties of 3 and 10 years, although there are also exceptions. In these cases it is essential to seek the help of an immigration lawyer.
The immigration lawyers of Lluis Law in Los Angeles can help you solve these types of immigration problems. We have a lot of experience in cases of Adjustment of State and Consular Process.
In some cases it is possible to request a I-601 waiver. However, obtaining it is not easy, as the statistics indicate. A good immigration lawyer will tell you with certainty what your options are in these cases.
Adjustment of status with tourist visa
If the foreigner wishes to change the purpose of his visit to the United States while in the country, the person or his employer must submit an application to USCIS. Consequently, you must fill in the appropriate form before your legal stay in the country expires. This is the case of a person who entered with a tourist visa and wishes to change their status.
After consulting preferably with an experienced immigration lawyer, you should submit the application for adjustment of status. But, if the person entered the country with a tourist visa and stayed longer than allowed, they cannot apply.
Unless the adjustment of status is done through a family member who is a US citizen or a green card holder. However, if the person entered with a tourist visa that expired and then marries a legal Resident, they could still have problems.
Status of my case
Here are some tips for immigrants who want to review the status of their case, through the Spanish page of the Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Remember that Lluis Law state adjustment expert immigration attorneys can help you with everything you need. Simply call our contact number (213) 687-4412 and request a free consultation.
How to check my immigration status?
To begin, you must create an online account through the website www.egov.uscis.gov if you have one or more pending immigration processes. USCIS offers this tool to monitor the progress of the immigration status application.
You only need to have the receipt number that USCIS gives you along with the notification of the procedure you are doing. The procedure number consists of 13 characters with the prefix / acronym: CSC, EAC, WAC, LIN, NBC, MCS or IEO, followed by 10 numbers.
The 3-digit coding corresponds to the USCIS offices:
CSC – Centro de servicio de California;
WAC – California Service Center (known before as Western Adjudication Center);
NBC – National Benefits Center;
MSC – National Benefits Center;
VSC – Vermont Service Center;
EAC – Vermont Service Center (know before as Eastern Adjudication Center);
IOE – ELIS (electronic file);
TSC – Texas Service Center;
SRC – Texas Service Center (known before as Southern Regional Center).
The benefits of creating an online profile in USCIS are several. It allows the user to review the status of their case and receive notifications through text messages or emails. The tool also allows you to better organize the necessary documents to accompany the application.
The user can periodically review the history of the applications he has submitted and save all the information in the case. The steps to check the status of your status adjustment request are:
- Access the USCIS page (Spanish or English as appropriate).
- Click on Verify the status of your case.
- Place the receipt number in the box.
- Click Verify Status.
How to check my visa status
To check the status of the American visa in Spanish, the same procedure explained above is performed on the USCIS website. In doing so, the results that can be obtained are:
No Status. It means that despite having made the request it has not yet been processed within the visa system.
Ready. It means that the process is underway.
Administrative Processing. Although the visa is not approved or denied, it is in the process of further verification.
Issued. It means that the visa was approved and is about to be sent.
Refused. It means that the visa was denied, either because of ineligibility or inadmissibility.
Adjustment of status by marriage
This immigration procedure is performed when a person wishes to marry a US citizen or a holder of a Residence Card. Through adjustment of status by marriage, an immigrant can obtain the Green Card. Of course, legal permanent residence is not obtained immediately, but a conditional Green Card for 2 years.
Subsequently, and before the Conditional Residence expires, both spouses must reapply for immigration restrictions to be removed. If USCIS approves it, then the conditional Green Card holder can obtain a definitive Green Card.
Of course, you must first prove that the marriage is legal and legitimate, not the product of fraud. Then the two spouses have to attend a separate interview with an immigration officer about their relationship. Although, if the immigration officer is satisfied with the marriage evidence presented, he will skip this step.
Ways to request adjustment of status by marriage
The procedure to adjust immigration status by marriage is similar to other forms of adjustment of status. The two ways to request this type of immigration adjustment are:
- The applicant already lives legally in the United States before getting married. After the marriage is celebrated, the immigrant submits the request for change or adjustment of status.
- The fiancé of the US citizen does not have a visa to enter or remain in the United States. In this situation, the foreigner must then apply for a K1 visa at the embassy or consulate of the United States in their country of origin. With this fiancé visa, you can enter the country with the condition of getting married before 90 days of entering.
Otherwise, the immigrant must leave the country and request adjustment of status by marriage to obtain permanent residence.
Requirements for adjustment of status by marriage
Among the requirements required to process the adjustment of status by marriage are usually:
- Copy of immigrant visa.
- Registration of entry and exit (I-94) of the applicant.
- Proof of identity / nationality of the applicant (copy of the birth certificate and copy of the passport).
- Copy of tax returns, salary receipts, payments and / or property of the US spouse to verify your financial capacity.
- f the requesting spouse was arrested in the United States, they must request a certification from the Court that they were not convicted.
- You must also submit a medical exam for the Green Card, performed by a doctor approved by USCIS.
Before beginning the process to obtain the American Residence, it is advisable to speak with an immigration lawyer. These requirements may vary depending on the type of case and the circumstances.
Reasons why the status adjustment can be applied
These are some of the reasons to apply to the adjustment of status:
- Family reasons as a request of spouse, parents or unmarried children under 21 years.
- Adjustment of status by marriage.
- Adjustment for immediate spouse relative. For example, child of the spouse of a US citizen or for the spouse of a foreign worker.
- Adjustment of status by asylum or by political refuge.
- Adjustment for residence in the US continuously (registry) for 40 years or more.
- Adjustment for cancellation of removal. After an immigration judge decides to grant legal permanent residence to an immigrant.
- Cases of Special Juvenile Immigrant Status (SIJ) decided by the Court.
- Immigrant who collaborates with the US Armed Forces
Frequently asked questions about adjustment of status
The immigration lawyers at Lluis Law in Los Angeles try to answer all your questions about adjusting status or any other immigration issue. These are some of the questions that our clients ask the most during the Free Consultation we offer.
What advantages does the adjustment of status have?
The main advantage is that it allows you to acquire the green card or legal permanent residence. When performing the process within the US, the immigrant saves the expenses of leaving the country to complete the process.
Another advantage is that undocumented immigrants who meet the requirements do not have to leave the country either. To adjust their status, foreigners can arrange the papers through the consular processing. In this way, the punishment of 3 and 10 years is not activated.
How long does the adjustment of status take?
Currently the adjustment of status is more delayed. In the California Service Center (CSC) for example it takes between 8 months and 43 months. While at the Texas Service Center, the delay is 14 to 41 months. The difference between one center and another depends on whether or not the interviews are conducted and the additional requirements required.
Can I work or travel while I wait?
Yes you can, but there are some considerations in this regard, which should be taken into account. It is possible to work while you wait for a response through the Status Adjustment procedure, but you must first obtain the work permit. If you already have an employment authorization there is no problem.
As for traveling, you can also always have the advance parole or travel permit approved in advance. But in any case it is always necessary to consult your expert immigration lawyer so as not to make mistakes.
If you want to get more information about the advance parole you can check our article “What is an advance parole“.
If you would like more information on the adjustment of status or any other case related to immigration matters of you or a family member of yours, Lluís Law immigration lawyers are at your disposal. They will help you clear all your doubts. We have experience in representing immigrants in the Los Angeles area.