Timeline of Adjustment of Status
It depends on what kind of visa you have. You cannot become a permanent resident based on a tourist visa or most other non-immigrant visas. In general, you can become a permanent resident based on a family member or employer’s sponsorship or your status as a refugee.
There are some other rarer possibilities. If you have a K1 (fiance) visa, you are eligible for adjustment of status after your marriage. If you have a K2 visa because you are an unmarried child of a fiance you are eligible for adjustment of status at the same time. You will be a conditional resident for the first 2 years of the marriage.
If you have a K3 visa you are eligible to file Form I-485 and adjust your status at any time after you enter the U.S. but you will only have conditional residence if you have not been married for at least 2 years. If you have a K4 visa you are eligible for adjustment of status after you enter the U.S. either concurrently or after a U.S. citizen files a petition for you. Like the K3 visa holder, you will only have conditional residence if the marriage is less than 2 years old.
If you have a CR1 visa, you already have conditional residence. Your green card will expire 2 years from the date you entered the U.S. You and your spouse must apply together to remove the conditions on your permanent residence based on marriage within 90 days before your conditional green card expires.
If you have an IR1 Visa (spouse), IR2 (unmarried child under 21 years old), IR3 (orphan adopted abroad), IR4 (orphan to be adopted in the U.S.), or IR5 (parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21) visa, you are already a permanent resident of the U.S. Congratulations!
If you have a family preference visa, including an F1 (unmarried child over 21 years old, and their minor children), F2 (spouses and children of legal permanent residents), F3 (married children and their minor children), and F4 (siblings of U.S. citizens over 21 years old, along with the sibling’s minor children) visa holders can file for adjustment of status when their priority date becomes current if they are in the U.S. If you are outside of the U.S. you will become a permanent resident when you enter the U.S. on one of these visas.
You may also become eligible for permanent residency via a job offer, investment, or your extraordinary ability. There are also a few special cases based on past or present jobs you may have had.
Diversity visa lottery winners are also eligible for legal permanent residence once they are able to obtain a visa. There are also a number of special cases based on humanitarian and public policy goals of the U.S. Finally, if you entered the U.S. as a refugee or a qualified family member of an asylee, you are eligible for adjustment of status 1 year after you entered the U.S. If you were granted asylum after you entered the U.S. you are eligible for adjustment of status 1 year after you were granted asylee status. Refugees are required to apply for permanent residence 1 year after entry into the U.S. For asylees applying for permanent residency is optional.