Understanding the Steps of the Process of Adjustment of Status for Family-Based Green Card Applicants

US Citizenship and Immigration Services

For many individuals seeking to permanently reside in the United States, a Family-Based Green Card is a cherished opportunity to be with loved ones and build a brighter future together. The Adjustment of Status (AOS) process is a critical step in obtaining this sought-after legal status, allowing eligible family members to apply for a Green Card without leaving the country. 

In this blog post, we will delve into the essential steps of the Adjustment of Status for Family-Based Green Card applicants, shedding light on the intricacies of this significant immigration pathway.

Determining Eligibility

The first and foremost step in the Adjustment of Status process is establishing eligibility. Typically, individuals eligible for Adjustment of Status fall into two primary categories: immediate relatives of United States citizens, and certain family members of Green Card holders. Immediate relatives include: 

  • spouses, 
  • unmarried children under 21, 
  • and parents of United States citizens, 

while other eligible family members may fall under the Family Preference Categories. It is essential to understand which category applies to your situation before proceeding further.

Filing the I-130 Petition

Once eligibility is confirmed, the next step is to file the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition establishes the qualifying family relationship and initiates the process of sponsoring the foreign national for a Family-Based Green Card. The petitioner, who must be a citizen or Green Card holder, will need to provide supporting documents and evidence of the relationship with the intending immigrant.

Priority Date and Visa Availability

After USCIS approves the I-130 petition, the intending immigrant’s application is assigned a priority date. The priority date is crucial, as it determines when the beneficiary can proceed with the Adjustment of Status process, depending on visa availability and the Family Preference Category they fall under. For immediate relatives of United States citizens, there is generally no wait time, but for those in preference categories, the wait times can vary significantly.

Filing the I-485 Application

The I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status is the key form in the AOS process. Once the priority date becomes current and visa numbers are available, the intending immigrant can file this application. It is often submitted in conjunction with the Petition for Alien Relatives. 

It is essential to submit the I-485 package accurately, including the required documents, fees, and any necessary supporting evidence. The application will undergo thorough scrutiny, and any mistakes or missing information can lead to delays or even denials.

Biometrics Appointment and Interview

After the I-485 application is received, USCIS will schedule a biometrics appointment for the applicant to capture fingerprints, photographs, and other biographical information. Additionally, applicants may be called for an interview at their local USCIS office. The interview is a critical step in the Adjustment of Status process, during which immigration officers will assess the authenticity of the relationship and the applicant’s eligibility for a Green Card. However, USCIS has begun approving adequately prepared applications, with sufficient supporting evidence, without interviews as of the start of this year.

Medical Examination and Affidavit of Support

Before the Adjustment of Status process is completed, the intending immigrant must undergo a medical examination by a designated civil surgeon. This examination ensures that the individual meets the health requirements for immigration. Moreover, a sponsor (usually the petitioner) must submit an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), demonstrating the ability to financially support the intending immigrant and ensuring they will not become a public burden. These documents are normally submitted with the application for adjustment of status.

Final Decision

After completing all necessary steps, USCIS will make a decision on the Adjustment of Status application. If approved, the applicant will receive their Green Card, granting them lawful permanent resident status in the United States. However, if the application is denied, the applicant may have to explore alternative immigration options or address any issues that led to the denial.

The Adjustment of Status process for Family-Based Green Card applicants is a complex and multifaceted journey, often filled with anticipation and hope for a better life in the United States. Understanding the steps involved, from establishing eligibility to filing the necessary forms and attending interviews, is crucial for a successful outcome. 

Applicants should be diligent in preparing their applications, seeking legal advice, and staying informed about any changes in immigration policies. By navigating this process with care and precision, families can lay the foundation for a brighter future together in the land of opportunity.

As always, follow our newsletter and blog for the latest in immigration news and analysis, and reach out to us if you have any questions about your case or if you have questions about your family members eligibility!