Adjustment of Status (AOS) refers to the process of applying for a green card while in the United States. Many applicants apply for a US green card while outside the United States. This process is known as consular processing, and it involves applying for a visa through a US consulate or embassy and going through a visa interview at the consulate or embassy in the country of origin. AOS is a much simpler process, used when applicants are already legally in the United States. In this process, applicants simply mail in the appropriate forms and have their status adjusted without having to leave the country and apply for a US green card abroad.
AOS allows qualified applicants to remain in the US and in some cases even work in the US while waiting for their US green card application to be approved. Many types of applicants qualify for AOS. Typically, spouses of US citizens, applicants applying for a green card through employer sponsorship, diversity visa winners living in the US, and some refugee and asylum green card applicants qualify for AOS rather than consular processing.
To apply for adjustment of status, applicants usually need to file USCIS Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) with the USCIS. The form and instructions are available online at the USCIS website. This form is quite complicated, as different immigrants apply for adjustment of status through different means. For example, fiancées who have arrived in the US to marry a US citizen on a K visa may use Form I-485 to file for a green card once they are married. Those who have applied for green card through employment sponsorship, the diversity lotto program, through asylum or refugee status, and through many other circumstances, will also be using the same form for adjustment of status.
However, the details supplied in the form will depend on the circumstances in each case. A K visa applicant, for example, may need to complete their form I-485 in a very different way than a refugee applicant. Each applicant will need to mail their completed form to a different filing location and will need to submit different types of supporting documentation.
As a result, it is very important to download the form I-485 instructions and to read them carefully before applying for adjustment of status. It is important to fill out your form very carefully and correctly the first time, to prevent any delays in your application. The adjustment of status form is expensive, costing $985 or even $1070, if you are applicant that needs the biometrics fee as well. As a result, it is important to file the adjustment of status form correctly to ensure that you do not have to pay the filing fee twice.