Your guide to applying for an adjustment of status

There are several paths through which to obtain American citizenship, one of which is via adjustment of status. This procedure, permitted through the Immigration and Nationality Act, allows eligible applicants residing in the U.S. to obtain permanent residency without having to return to their home country and apply for a visa or go through consular processing. This is a strict process that requires several steps. Read on to learn more about adjusting your status from a nonimmigrant to a permanent resident.

Eligibility requirements
Before you begin the application process, you must determine if you are eligible for an adjustment of status. To qualify for American citizenship through this means, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be physically present in the U.S.
  • Have entered the country legally.
  • If applicable, have an approved alien’s immigration petition.

Steps for applying for an adjustment of status
To apply for an adjustment of status, you must take the following actions:

1. Determine your basis for immigration
You must fit into a specific immigrant category to qualify for U.S. citizenship through an adjustment of status. The categories include family-based, employment-based and special-class immigration, all of which require a petition. You can also apply under the humanitarian programs category, which does not require a petition, but doing so may entail other additional requirements.

2. File the immigrant petition
If you’re required to file a petition, be sure to use the correct form. Family-based petitions generally require Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, while those applying through employment must have file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, filed for them by the potential employer. Special classes can use Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), and Special Immigrant. In addition to these category-specific forms, you are also required to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

3. Check visa availability
You can’t file Form I-485 until a visa becomes available in your specific category. Availability can be checked through the Visa Availability & Priority Dates page.

4. File Form I-485
Once a visa becomes available, file the form to adjust status. Be sure to submit all required documentation to avoid delaying the process or being denied a status adjustment.

5. Go to an Application Support Center appointment
You will receive notification of your Application Support Center appointment after filing Form I-485. During this time, you’ll have your signature and picture taken and give fingerprints.

6. Go to an interview
You may be called in for an interview at your local U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office. You will be expected to confirm personal information, answer questions under oath, and submit any requested documentation.

After all these steps have been completed, you will receive a final decision in the mail.