Adjustment of Status
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) permits the change of an individual's immigration status while in the United States from nonimmigrant or parolee (temporary) to immigrant (permanent) if the individual was inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States and is able to meet all required qualifications for a green card (permanent residence) in a particular category. The common term for a change to permanent status is “adjustment of status.”
The INA provides an individual two primary paths to permanent resident status. Adjustment of status is the process by which an eligible individual already in the United States can get permanent resident status (a green card) without having to return to their home country to complete visa processing.
Consular processing is an alternate process for an individual outside the United States (or who is in the United States but is ineligible to adjust status) to obtain a visa abroad and enter the United States as a permanent resident) This pathway is referred to as “consular processing."
Steps for Adjustment of Status
1. Determine Your Basis to Immigrate
2. File the Immigrant Petition
Depending on the category you wish to adjust under, you may be eligible to have the petition filed at the same time that you file your Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This is called “concurrent filing.” Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen may be able to file concurrently. Also, other certain classes of individuals who have a visa immediately available may be able to file concurrently. Most categories, however, require that you first establish your eligibility for the immigrant category by having an approved petition before you are allowed to file Form I-485, for these categories you will not be able to file concurrently.
For more information on concurrent filing, see our Concurrent Filing page.
3. Check Visa Availability
4. File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residency or Adjust Status
Note: There are a few categories which may require a different form than Form I-485.
When filing Form I-485, you must read the form instructions carefully and submit all required documentation and evidence required for your particular category. Failure to do so may result in your application being delayed or possibly denied for failure to establish that you are eligible to adjust status.
To learn more about filing, see the Form I-485 page.
5. Go to your Application Support Center appointment (fingerprints)
6. Go to your interview (if applicable)
When you come to your interview, you (and the family member that filed the Form I-130 petition on your behalf, if applicable) must bring originals of all documentation submitted with this application including passports, official travel documents, and Form I-94 regardless if they are expired.
Not all applications require an interview. USCIS officials will review your case to determine if it meets one of the exceptions.
7. Get you final decision in the mail
The granting of permanent residency is generally recorded as the date that you became a permanent resident. Refugees and certain humanitarian parolees (e.g. Cuban, Lautenberg) will have their date of adjustment of status recorded as that of their entry into the United States as a refugee. Asylees, whether the principal filer or his/her derivatives, will have their date of adjustment recorded as 1 year prior to the date of being granted permanent residence.
Change of Address
You must advise USCIS of a change of address. To update your address, see the “Change of Address Information” page.
Check My Status
If you have immigration-related questions, you may call the USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283. You should be prepared to provide the USCIS representative with specific information about your application, such as your receipt number, Alien Registration Number, name and date of birth. Or, you may check the status of your application online at “My Case Status.”
Please remember that an application receipt number may not be available through “My Case Status” for 72 hours.
Appeal a Denial
If your application for adjustment of status is denied, your decision notice will let you know your appeal rights. Not every decision can be appealed. Generally, if your decision can be appealed, you must file the appeal within 30 days of the service of the decision. You may also be able to file a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider. Both appeals and motions are filed on Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 03/30/2011
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