Adjustment of Status
Adjustment of Status is the final stage of Green Card. After the completion of this process, the applicant becomes a lawful permanent resident of the US.
An applicant can opt either for I-485 or Consular Processing (CP).
1. File form I-485 - In this case, the applicant can file for adjustment of status using form I-485 for him/herself and family members while remain in US.
2. Consular Processing - In this case, applicant can apply for adjustment of status at the US Consular office in their home country. (Please see our separate section on Consular Processing for further details)
What documents required to file for I-485 AoS?
The following is a generic list of documents may required for applying for I-485/AoS application:
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
- Birth Certificate
- Copy of Passport page with nonimmigrant visa
- Color photographs as per new guidelines
- Fingerprints ( USCIS will notify when and where to provide finger Print)
- Fee : Non refundable Fee: $985( Effective Nov, 23, 2010) by check or money order
- Form G-325A, Biographic Information (for those between the ages of 14 and 79 years)
- Employment Letter - on employer's letterhead. This letter should confirm that the job on which the visa petition is based is available to you and it should mention your salary.
- Copy of your I-797 Notice of Action, showing that your I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, has been received or approved by INS (As of July 31, 2002, an interim rule published in the Federal Register allows for concurrent filing of Form I-485 with Form I-140, if a visa number is immediately available)
- Form I-693, Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status. ( Must be completed by the USCIS authorized physician)
- Form G-28 Notice of Entry of Appearance as Attorney or Representative. This will enable your lawyer to represent you.
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization or EAD (Optional, if you want Employment Authorization while the case is pending)
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document ( Optional, if you want Travel document in case may have to travel out of USA while case is pending)
- You might be required to submit copies of marriage or divorce certificate, death certificate (of spouse), birth certificates for children and certified copies of any arrests or criminal records, depends on your case.
- Other then these may be more documents required and depends on individual case. An advise from an immigration Lawyer can be worth.
All Adjustment of Status applicants must pass a medical examination conducted by a civil surgeon approved by the USCIS. You can find a USCIS approved doctor in your area online, or you can contact the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 to find an approved civil surgeon in your area.
The civil surgeon will record the results of the examination on Form I-693 and place in a sealed envelope which should be submitted to USCIS along with I-485 application.
You are responsible for paying all doctor and laboratory fees for the exam. You must carry your passport (or other form of photo identification) and your medical and vaccination history. If a condition is diagnosed which makes you inadmissible, you may still be eligible for immigration after completing treatment for the condition.
When applying for Adjustment of Status, you will be fingerprinted so the USCIS can check for FBI and criminal records. The USCIS accepts fingerprint cards prepared only by authorized sites such as Application Support Centers (ASCs), and US Consular offices and military installations abroad. Once you file for I-485, the USCIS will send you a letter with an appointment for fingerprinting and Biometrics for green card at the nearest ASC location. You must have the letter with you when you go in for biometrics . There is a $85 charge per person. Once your biometrics are taken you will be issued a card FD-258.
Remember: You should not submit the FD-258 card with your application. If you do so, the card will be rejected and you will have to go for fingerprinting again.
Employment Authorization Document (EAD), USCIS Form I-765
Your eligible family members such as spouse can apply for an EAD. An approved EAD allows to work or business to the secondary applicant (spouse). The primary applicant may take up a part-time job or start a business as long as he or she continues working for the employer who filed for the Green Card.
Application for EAD (Form I-765) can be filed concurrently along with I-485 or any time after that as long as I-485 application is pending. The following documents must accompany the form:
- Fee of $380 payable by check or money order (Currently the Form I-765 does not reflect this change, however you must comply by the new rules or your application will be rejected)
- 2 passport photographs taken within 30 days of filing the application and as per the new guidelines.
- Copies of both sides of your I-94 card
- Copies of both sides of your EAD if you already had one.
Depending on the service center, EAD approval may take few weeks to few months. Those who are secondary applicant and do not have a Social Security Number or not allowed to work can apply for Social Security Number after receiving the EAD Card.
Advance Parole (Travel Document)
The Advance Parole or Travel Document is used to apply for admission to the United States upon return from abroad without having to obtain a visa from a US Embassy or consulate. You must fill Form I-131 for Advance Parole. There is a non refundable Filling fee of $165 to be paid by check or money order. This document is usually issued for the time it takes for the AoS application to be processed and is valid for multiple entries. Once your Advance Parole (Travel Document) application is approved, you will receive 2 copies of form I-512. You must carry all 2 copies when you travel out of the US for the first time. One copy will be taken by the the USCIS officer at the port of entry. The second copy is for you and should be used during all subsequent trips.
What happens if your 6-year limit on H-1 visa expires during this time?
Once you apply for AoS, your status is considered as "applicant for adjustment of status." You can remain in the US even after your 6-year limit has expired until the I-485 process is completed. If you have not applied for AoS and your 6-year limit is reached, then you must apply for 1-year or 3-year extension of H-1 visa. Whether you are qualified to apply for H-1 extension will depend on the status of your employment-based green card application.
Can you include your spouse and children for AoS?
Yes, you can include your spouse and children aged less than 21 at the time of filing I-485 for Adjustment of Status. You must submit all the documents required for AoS for each dependent (except form G-28). In addition, you may need to file Form I-134 (Affidavit of Support) for each dependent. Other documents may include:
- Copy of passport with I-94
- Copy of I-797 and H-4 visa
- Copy of Birth certificate
- Copy of Marriage certificate
- Original Bank statements
- Passport photos as per new regulations
What are the new requirements for immigration photographs?
The USCIS will now accept standard passport photographs where the subject is facing the camera. Applicants who submitted applications before 01 September 2004 will not need to make any changes, but new applicants will have to comply with the changed regulations. All photos must be identical. You can read the new regulations at the USCIS website. Visit the Department of State's Guidelines for Photographs website to find out how you can take photos that meet the requirements at home.
Will you have to appear for an interview?
Usually the interview is waived for most applicants. If you are called for an interview, it will be a formality. It is advisable to have your lawyer accompany you. The reason for the interview is to clarify any changes or corrections and to verify that all documents are correct. You may be asked to carry any documents that were missing or incorrect. You may be asked for tax records and pay stubs.
If your interview is waived (or if it is completed and you meet all requirements) you will receive an approval letter from the USCIS. You must go to the local USCIS service center with your passport and all I-94 and EAD cards. A temporary green card stamp (I-551) will be placed on your passport. This is an interim green card in case you need to travel out of the US. Within a few months, your green card will arrive in the mail - it is not green in color and looks more like a driver's license or a credit card.