Adjustment of Status, also referred to as AOS, is the process through which a foreign national applies for lawful permanent resident status in the United States. Once the application is approved, the foreign national is granted an I-551 permanent resident card (more commonly referred to as a green card). Following receipt of the green card, the alien receives the right to reside and be employed within the United States of America. The majority of adjustment of status applications are granted through family relations or through an employer.
The Adjustment of Status Process
The adjustment processes of status is a complicated undertaking with a number of steps that take months to complete. The basic process is as follows:
- Medical Examination – Conducted by a USCIS-approved surgeon.
- USCIS Filing – I-485 Adjustment of Status application mailed to the USCIS along with all supporting documentation.
- Notice of Action 1 – Notice that application is received by the USCIS.
- Notice of Action 2 – Instructions for biometrics appointment.
- Notice of Action 3 – Instructions for interview (if needed).
- Notice of Action 4 – Application is approved or denied by USCIS.
- Green Card – If Adjustment of Status is approved, I-551 green card is mailed to the applicant.
Prior to 2018, this timeline was much faster. Due to the new administration’s immigration focus, the timelines for all immigration processes have been extended greatly. As of 2019, the average wait from filing of the adjustment of status application to the time of approval or denial is approximately 7-10 months. The time period can be longer or shorter depending on each applicant’s particular circumstances.
Some of the factors that can affect your timeline are:
- The current USCIS workload
- Errors on the application or missing documentation
- Whether an interview is required by the USCIS
- Whether the applicant is applying from a high-fraud area
- Most adjudication delays seem to stem from errors made on the government forms or evidential documents that are missing from the initial filing.
Before starting the adjustment of status process, you’ll first need to determine if you are eligible. In order to be eligible to adjust your status, you must:
- Fulfill all the requirements of your particular visa circumstance, whether it be family based (spouse, child or parent of US citizen), employment based (employer or entrepreneurial) or based upon entry to the United States on a K-1 fiancé visa and subsequent marriage to the original petitioner
- Have maintained lawful admission and residency in the United States
- Have not been involved in unlawful activities including criminal detainments or convictions or association with terrorist activity
- The medical examination did not reveal a Class A medical condition
- Not been found working illegally in the United States
- Note that waivers are available for some of these exceptions. Please consult the Adjustment of Status Eligibility Requirements page for more information.
Costs and Fees
Government fees are fixed, but other costs will vary depending on each applicant’s specific needs. Standard filing fees as of February, 2017 areas follows:
|USCIS I-485 Filing Fee||$1,140|
The number of forms required to file vary according to the applicant’s classification and status. Generally, the flowing documents are needed.
|I-485||Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status|
|I-94||Nonimmigrant Arrival/Departure Record|
|I-693||Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status|
|I-131||Travel Permit/Advance Parole (if necessary)|
|1-765||Employment Authorization/Work Permit (if necessary)|
|1-130||Petition for Alien Relative (if AOS is family based)|
|I-864||Affidavit of Support (if necessary)|
|G-1145||E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance (optional)|
Adjustment of Status Interview
In some cases, an interview with the USCIS will be required. In other cases, the interview will be waived. The interview will be conducted at a local USCIS office and the applicant must bring all relevant documents and identification cards. The interview is intended to update all the information that was submitted by the applicant and to review any discrepancies that were noted by the reviewing officers.
Approval/Denial of Application and Receipt of Green Card
If the I-485 adjustment of status is approved, the applicant will be notified and will receive his or her I-551 green card within 1 to 2 weeks. Lawful permanent residency begins from the date the application was approved.
Continuing Path to Citizenship
Securing lawful permanent residency in the United States is just one more step on the path to United States citizenship. Five years after receiving residency, the individual is allowed to apply for naturalization. If all criteria are met, the resident then gains the full benefits of being a US citizen.