The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) permits the change of an individuals 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.
-- Steps for Adjustment of Status --
1. Determine Your Basis to Immigrate
The first step in the adjustment of status process is to determine if you fit into a specific immigrant category . Most immigrants become eligible for a green card (permanent residence) through a petition filed on your behalf by a family member or employer.
2. File the Immigrant Petition
When you know what category you believe best fits your situation, in most cases, you will need to have an immigrant petition filed on your behalf.
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.
3. Check Visa Availability
You may not file your Form I-485 until a visa is available in your category. If an immigrant visa is currently available to you, you may be able to apply for permanent residence status on Form I-485. See our Visa Availability & Priority Dates page for more information on if you have a visa immediately available to you.
4. File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residency or Adjust Status
Regardless of whether a petition must be filed and approved prior to your filing Form I-485 or whether it may be filed concurrently, you will need to apply for permanent residence on Form I-485 at the appropriate time.
Note: There are a few categories which may require a different form than Form I-485.
5. Go to your application support center appointment (fingerprints)
After you file your application, you will be notified to appear at an Application Support Center for biometrics collection, which usually involves having your picture and signature taken and being fingerprinted. This information will be used to conduct your required security checks and for eventual creation of a green card, employment authorization (work permit) or advance parole document.6. Go to your interview (if applicable)
You may be notified of the date, time, and location for an interview at a USCIS office to answer questions under oath or affirmation regarding your application. You must attend all interviews when you receive a notice.
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 your final decision in the mail
After all paperwork has been received, interviews conducted (if necessary), security checks completed, and other eligibility requirements reviewed, your case will be ready for a decision by USCIS. In all cases, you will be notified of the decision in writing.