Adjustment of status is the process to get a green card (permanent residence status) for people who already live in the United States. This article discusses the details of the process, including who is eligible, which form to file and the filing fee.
Adjustment of status is the process of adjusting (changing) your immigration status from temporary to permanent (green card). If you apply for U.S. permanent residence through adjustment of status, you can get a green card without having to return to your home country. If you live outside the U.S., then you must apply for a green card through consular processing.
The adjustment of status process typically requires that you file two immigration applications: an immigrant petition (I-130, Petition for Relative or I-140, Petition for Workers) and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
In general, the process of getting a green card is two-parts. First you must be sponsored either through a U.S. citizen, permanent resident relative, or through a U.S. employer. The relative or employer is called the “sponsor” and will file the first application on your behalf—the immigrant petition.
There are other, less common immigrant petitions some may find themselves eligible for. This includes Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition and Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal.
The I-130 application should be filed by your U.S. relative on your behalf. In most cases, this application should be filed before the I-485 application. However, immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are eligible to file concurrently, meaning they can file both applications at the same time.
The I-140 application should be filed by the U.S. employer on behalf of the adjustment of status applicant. In most cases, this application can be filed at the same time as the I-485 application, as long as a visa number is immediately available.
Unlike the immigrant petition, the I-485 application should be completed and filed directly by you. Form I-485 is where you will be applying for the green card (not the sponsor). This is a complex application that requires lots of supporting documents. As a part of the application process, you will also be required to attend a biometric services appointment where you will have your fingerprints and signature taken.
Who Is Eligible for Adjustment of Status?
To apply for a green card through adjustment of status the first requirement is that you are currently living in the United States legally, with a temporary immigration status (visa). Second, you must meet the eligibility requirements to qualify for a U.S. green card. There are several green card categories:
- Special Immigrant
- Refugee or Asylee
- Human Trafficking and Crime Victims
- Victims of Abuse
- Other Categories
The family-based and employment-based categories are the most popular and their eligibility requirements are described below.
You may qualify for a green card if you have U.S. citizen or permanent resident relatives.
U.S. citizen qualifying relatives:
- Spouse, fiance or widow
- Brother or sister
- VAWA self-petitioner (victim of abuse)
U.S. permanent resident qualifying relatives:
Green Card through Employment
To get a green card through employment, you must meet the requirements of one of the following categories: immigrant worker, physician national interest waiver, or immigrant investor.
The Immigrant Worker category has three preferences: first, second and third. To be considered first preference you:
- Have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, or
- Are an outstanding professor or researcher, or
- Are a multinational manager or executive who meets certain criteria
To be considered second preference, you:
- Are a member of a profession that requires an advanced degree, or
- Have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, or
- Are seeking a national interest waiver
To be considered third preference, you are:
- A skilled worker (meaning your job requires a minimum of 2 years training or work experience), or
- A professional (meaning your job requires at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or a foreign equivalent and you are a member of the profession), or
- An unskilled worker (meaning you will perform unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training or experience)
The Physician National Interest Waiver category requires that you agree to work fulltime in a clinical practice in a designated underserved area for a set period of time.
The Immigrant Investor category requires that you invest at least $1 million (or $500,000 in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. which will create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying employees.
Adjustment of Status Fee
Each form associated with the adjustment of status process has its own fee. These fees are current as September 4, 2018. Filing fees are adjusted periodically and you can check the most current fees on the USCIS website.
I-130, Petition for Alien Relative — $535
I-140, Petition for Workers — $700
I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status — $1,140