While you are in the U.S. your circumstances may change and you may want to extend your stay because you get married, you accept a job or you start a business. When this occurs, one may want to change their non-immigrant temporary status to a green card. This process is called “Adjustment of Status.” Generally speaking, you can only adjust status if you are currently in the United States, you lawfully entered the U.S. and you hold valid immigration status. While this is the general rule, there are many exceptions for green card petitions filed for immediate relatives.
In order to be eligible to apply for an adjustment of status, the applicant must have entered the U.S. lawfully and maintained valid immigration status. The applicant must also meet the eligibility requirements for one of the green card categories. For example, an applicant that enters the U.S. and marries a U.S. citizen could apply for an adjustment of status based on the marriage. Similarly, a person who gets sponsored by a company for a green card while in the U.S. could apply for an adjustment of status based on employment.
People who entered under the Visa Waiver Program (exception for immediate relatives) and anyone outside of the U.S. are not eligible to apply.
The procedure for adjusting status will vary depending on the foreign national’s basis for seeking permanent immigrant status. For example, if someone entered the U.S. and married a U.S. citizen, their eligibility for a green card would be based on that relationship. A few of the forms for different eligibility categories are listed below.
- Family-Based: Form I-130, Form I-485
- Employment-Based: Form I-140, Form I-485
- EB-5 Investor Entrepreneurs: Form I-526, I-485
Generally speaking, in order to apply for an adjustment of status, an I-485 petition must be filed. Depending on the green card category, the foreign national may be able to file the I-485 petition at the same time as the underlying supporting application. For example, in most situations an I-130 petition can be filed concurrently with an I-485 petition if the foreign national is an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen. In contrast, the I-526 petition for an EB-5 investor must be approved before an I-485 petition can be filed.
All green card applicants are required to complete medical screening by a government recognized doctor and also have to attend biometrics screening. While the government may call an applicant for an interview at any time, this is not very common.
How Long does it Last For?
The adjustment of status results in a green card, so it is permanent.
How are Family Members Treated?
Immediate family members (spouse and minor children) can usually adjust status at the same time as the primary applicant.
Other Considerations and related Articles
Questions and Answers
Fees vary depending on the application but generally an adjustment of status filing is $2,500. Government filing fees are $1,070.