Green Card Process – Adjustment of Status

What is an Adjustment of Status Application?

This is the final step in the green card process. The individual files the I-485 Adjustment of Status application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Upon approval, the individual becomes a U.S. permanent resident.

What are the requirements?

The individual must be immediately eligible to receive a green card which means that the U.S. Department of State’s Visa Bulletin must be consulted. The Visa Bulletin is released monthly and controls immigrant visa availability for family-based, employment-based and diversity lottery categories. For further discussion on this topic, please refer to the Green Card Quota Backlog FAQ. The individual must have also entered the U.S. legally and must be physically present in the U.S. at the time the application is filed with the USCIS. Additionally, the individual must be admissible to the U.S. or, if there is an admissibility issue, be eligible to apply a waiver.

What is concurrent filing?

Concurrent filing is when an individual is eligible to file an Immigrant Petition and file the Adjustment of Status application at the same time because an immigrant visa is immediately available in their category. This option only applies to individuals who choose to pursue an Adjustment of Status filing in the U.S.; Consular Processing of the immigrant visa abroad requires an approved Immigrant Petition before an individual can move forward with the final step in the case.

What are the benefits of concurrent filing?

Concurrently filing the Immigrant Petition and the Adjustment of Status application allows the USCIS to begin adjudication of both cases at the same time. Each case progresses according to the USCIS processing times. For example, the USCIS may take four months to adjudicate an Immigrant Petition and take 6 months to adjudicate an Adjustment of Status application. By filing both cases at the same time, it should eliminate the several months delay for the Immigrant Petition to be processed separately before filing the Adjustment of Status application. Please note that an Adjustment of Status application cannot be approved until the underlying Immigrant Petition is approved.

Are there any disadvantages to concurrent filing?

The Adjustment of Status application cannot be approved until the underlying Immigrant Petition is approved. Therefore if the Immigrant Petition is denied, the Adjustment of Status application will also be denied. Prior to deciding to file concurrently, it is recommended that the strength of the underlying Immigrant Petition be evaluated as it may be best to wait to file the Adjustment of Status application until the Immigrant Petition is approved to avoid the need to re-file in the future if a different path needs to be taken toward the green card. With premium processing now available for most employment-based Immigrant Petitions, at times it may be in the best interest to obtain an approved Immigrant Petition before filing an Adjustment of Status application. It is also important to keep in mind that if concurrent filing is pursued and the Immigrant Petition is denied, in addition to the Adjustment of Status application denial, all ancillary applications will be denied (Employment Authorization Document and Advance Parole). Where an individual is relying on the pending Adjustment of Status application for legal presence in the U.S., a denial of that application will leave the individual without a valid basis to be present in the U.S.

Is my case hopeless if my background is not pristine?

Not necessarily. It is essential that an individual seeking to immigrate to the U.S. fully disclose their background to their legal counsel. Depending on the issue, it may be possible to seek a waiver from the immigration authorities. Each individual’s situation is different and only after reviewing all of the facts of an individual’s case is it possible to determine how to proceed.

I am eligible to apply for an I-485 Adjustment of Status Application. What about my family?

Dependents, defined as a spouse and children under the age of 21, may immigrate to the U.S. along with the principal applicant.

After the I-485 Adjustment of Status application is filed, can I travel internationally?

Yes, travelling internationally while an Adjustment of Status application is pending is possible. At the time the I-485 Adjustment of Status application is filed, an individual may also seek an Advance Parole (AP) document. The issuance of the AP document by the USCIS will allow the individual to travel internationally while an I-485 Adjustment of Status application is pending with the USCIS. Please keep in mind that the issuance of the AP document may take some time so it is important for individuals to plan accordingly. Individuals maintaining valid H or L status have a bit more freedom to travel internationally while an Adjustment of Status application is pending with the USCIS. They may travel internationally with a valid AP document; alternatively they may opt to travel internationally and return to the U.S. in H or L status. For more detailed information on international travel please see our International Travel Advisories and Requirements page.

Will I be able to work while the I-485 Adjustment of Status application is pending?

At the time the Adjustment of Status application is filed, the individual may seek an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). This benefit is provided to each individual or applicant filing an Adjustment of Status application. It is important for individuals with existing work authorization (e.g., H, L, TN, etc.) to understand how the use of an EAD will impact their underlying immigration status and work authorization. In general, the use of an EAD will result in the individual being viewed as an Adjustment Applicant. This shift can also impact dependent family members. It is advisable to discuss the issue with legal counsel.

Once the Adjustment of Status application is filed, how long will it take to receive a green card?

If a visa number remains available and the Adjustment of Status application has been filed, the applicant should monitor the USCIS processing times at http://www.uscis.gov/. Note that all processing times are estimated and due to a variety of factors, there is no way to know for sure when a case will be approved.

My I-485 Adjustment of Status application has been filed. When will I receive a biometrics appointment notice?

USCIS will schedule appointments to capture photographs and fingerprints for individuals who have filed Adjustment of Status applications. The timing of this appointment varies but generally an individual can expect to receive a biometrics appointment notice from the USCIS within 60 – 120 days of filing.

When I am scheduled for a biometrics appointment, what documents do I take with me?

An individual will need to appear at the assigned USCIS Application Support Center (ASC) on the date and time indicated on the biometrics appointment notice. The USCIS requires that the biometrics appointment notice be presented along with valid government issued photo identification (a valid passport, a valid driver’s license or a valid state-issued photo identification card).

What if I cannot attend the biometrics appointment at the scheduled time and day?

Please notify our firm as soon as possible if attending the scheduled appointment is not possible. If an individual is unable to attend the appointment on the scheduled date and time, the individual may consider visiting the ASC prior to the scheduled appointment date and request that his/her biometrics be taken on a walk-in basis (without an appointment). It is best for the individual to carry documentation which supports the fact that he/she will be unavailable on the scheduled date. Please note that if an individual chooses to attempt this option, it is best to do so at least 3 business days prior to the appointment. In the event that the ASC will not accommodate the walk-in request or the individual prefers to reschedule the appointment without attempting a walk-in request, we can contact the USCIS to reschedule the biometrics appointment but it must be done in writing and in advance of the appointment. It is not possible to call the ASC or the USCIS to reschedule an appointment. Please note that failure to attend a schedule appointment risks denial of the application.

What if I miss my biometrics appointment or I forget to reschedule?

Failure to attend a scheduled appointment risks denial of the application.

After I have attended my biometrics appointment, does that mean my Adjustment of Status application will be approved soon?

Unfortunately, the timing of a biometrics appointment does not signal that an application will soon be approved. The biometrics appointment is one step in the USCIS adjudication process. As mentioned above, the timing of approval depends on quite a few factors such as USCIS processing times and continued immigration visa availability.

Can I check the status of my or my family members fingerprint results?

No. You cannot inquire about the fingerprint process.

Some individuals receive Requests for Evidence (RFE) from the USCIS for their Adjustment of Status applications. Can I prepare documents to get ready for an RFE on my case?

RFEs are not issued for every application and the RFEs do not always ask for the same information or documents. RFEs are issued on a case-by-case basis. As a result, we cannot advise on specific documentation until the USCIS issues the RFE with its specific information or documentation request.

I checked the USCIS online case status system and it indicates that my Adjustment of Status application has been approved. When will I receive my green card?

USCIS will send the approval notice for the case generally within 2-4 weeks from the time the USCIS online case status system is updated. The permanent resident card, or green card, will be sent to the home address of the individual shortly after the approval of the Adjustment of Status application. If 30 days have passed since the approval notice has been received and the green card has not yet been received, please contact our office.