Foreign nationals inside the United States may be eligible to file an adjustment of status application for lawful permanent resident status without having to return to their home country for visa processing. Filing to obtain a green card through an adjustment of status application provides a convenient method to gain lawful permanent residency inside of the U.S.
The process of filing an adjustment of status application involves a number of steps. Understanding these steps and taking the appropriate actions are the key points to filing a successful application. Foreign nationals interested in filing an adjustment of status form can take the following steps:
U.S. immigration law allows for a number of approaches in applying for a green card. When it comes to adjustment of status, the eligibility requirements vary according to the immigrant category.
Immigrant categories include:
- Special immigrant
- Refugee or asylee
- Human trafficking and crime victim
- Abuse victim
- Other immigrant-category
*each immigrant category includes its own eligibility requirements.
File an immigrant petition (when applicable)
At least 2 forms are usually needed in the green card application process– an immigrant petition and a green card application. Usually, a sponsor files a petition on an immigrant’s behalf, though U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows certain immigrants to petition on their own.
Common forms include:
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
- Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
- Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
- Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal
Other petitions include:
- Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant
- Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
- Form I-918, Petition of U Nonimmigrant Status
- Form I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant
With most of the categories, USCIS requires an approved immigrant petition before filing the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. However, USCIS allows some immigrant categories to file Form I-485 at the same time as the immigrant petition is filed or while the immigrant petition is pending. The Concurrent Filing page provides more information on these simultaneous filings.
Check visa availability
Generally speaking, immigrants don’t file the adjustment of status form until a visa is available in the appropriate category. The Department of State site provides information on the Visa Availability and Priority Dates page as well as the Adjustment of Status Filing Charts through the Visa Bulletin.
File Form I-485
Immigrants in the United States and who are eligible for adjustment of status file a Form I-485, which includes instructions for completing and filing the application per the appropriate immigrant category.
Immigrants applying to adjust status to lawful permanent resident under section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) complete both Form I-485 and Form I-485 Supplement A, Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i)
After filing Form I-485
Applicants receive a USCIS notice through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) for a biometrics services appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC.) At the biometrics appointment, immigrants provide fingerprints, a photograph and a signature. The notice includes the date, time, and location of the appointment. USCIS uses biometrics to verify immigrant identities and to conduct required background and security checks.
At the ASC appointment, USCIS asks immigrants to sign an acknowledgment certifying the applicant has reviewed all the submitted information in the application and that all the information in the application is complete, true, and correct at the time of filing. Not signing the acknowledgment or missing the ASC appointment without properly notifying USCIS and requesting a rescheduled appointment, could result in the agency denying your Form I-485.
Preparing for Your Biometrics Services Appointment provides more information.
USCIS officials review immigrant cases to determine if an interview is necessary. If you are required to interview, you must appear at a USCIS office to answer questions under oath or affirmation regarding your Form I-485. USCIS sends a notice via USPS with the date, time, and location of the interview.
At the interview, foreign nationals (and their petitioners, if applicable) bring originals of all documentation submitted with the Form I-485 application. This includes passports, official travel documents, and Form I-94, even if these documents are expired.
Provide additional evidence (if applicable)
USCIS could request additional evidence in any of these cases:
- All required evidence has not been submitted
- Submitted evidence is no longer valid
- More information is needed to determine eligibility
With these notices, USCIS indicates what evidence is needed and the date by when a response is required. Those who don’t respond to the request in a timely manner could face denial of Form I-485. Not all applicants receive a request for additional evidence.
Check case status
Check case status online or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283. Customers with disabilities can use (TTY) 800-767-1833, (VRS) 877-709-5797, or (VCO) 877-709-5801 to check the status of the adjustment of status form. Filers calling the service center should be prepared to provide the USCIS representative with specific information about an application, such as receipt number, A-Number, name, and date of birth.
Receive a decision
When USCIS makes a decision on an application, the agency sends applicants a written decision notice. In cases where USCIS approves an application, applicants generally receive an approval notice first and then receive the actual green card a little later.
In cases where USCIS denies an application, the decision notice explains the reason(s) for denial and whether the applicant can appeal the decision. In general terms, the decision to deny an adjustment of status application can’t be appealed. Even if an appeal of the denial isn’t an option, applicants may still be eligible to file a motion to reopen or reconsider. File appeals and motions on Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion. More information is available on the USCIS Questions and Answers: Appeals and Motions page.