How to Apply for an Adjustment of Status
Adjustment of status is the procedure for becoming a U.S. permanent resident without the leaving the U.S. The adjustment of status is a different procedure from the method of applying for permanent residence along from abroad. Thus, if you apply for a CR1 or IR1 visa you do not need to file for adjustment of status. You will if you have a K1 visa or K3 visa.
Rules regarding adjustment of status are found at Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. The status of an alien who was has been legally admitted to the U.S. may be adjusted by the Attorney General, in his discretion and under such regulations as he may prescribe, to that of an alien lawfully admitted for permanent residence if:
the alien makes an application for adjustment,
the alien is eligible to receive an immigrant visa and is admissible to the U.S. for permanent residence, and
an immigrant visa is immediately available at the time his application is filed.
In order to apply for an adjustment of status, an immigrant visa must be immediately available to the alien when his or her adjustment application is filed. This is not a problem in the case of a K-1 or K-3 Visa holders because an unlimited number of “green cards” (permanent residence cards) can be issued to immigrants who are immediate relatives, e.g. spouses, of U.S. citizens. Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status should be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) district director in the district where you live.
If you have not yet filed Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative you will need to file one. For example, because you do not need to file Form I-130 to obtain a K3 visa, sponsors of K3 visa holders will have to file the petition when you apply for adjustment of status. However, once you are in the U.S. you can file both forms at the same time.
When you complete the I-130 petition and gather the required documents, send them to the USCIS Lockbox in Chicago for processing. Make sure you keep copies of the petition and all the documents you send in with it because you will need them later. When USCIS receives your I-130 petition they will send you Form I-797, which confirms that they are processing your I-130 petition.
You also need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. If the visa holder is living in the U.S., you can do this when you file the I-130 or any time after you have received the Form I-797 Notice of Action from USCIS indicating that your I-130 petition is being processed. When you file Form I-485 you must include a copy of your I-130 petition and either the receipt or approval notice from USCIS (Form I-797, Notice of Action 1 or 2)
Go to your Application Support Center Appointment
After you file Form I-485, 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 required security checks and for eventual creation of your green card, employment authorization (work permit) or advance parole document.
In some cases, you may be required to go a USCIS office to answer additional questions about your application.
After the application process is complete, you will be notified by mail of the decision.
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