Adjustment of Status

In this article you will learn important features of the ‘Adjustment of Status’ procedure that will help you obtain legal residence in the US.

When we talk about getting legal permanent residence in the United States, it is crucial to be aware of all the options and procedures you have at your disposal. Among them is the ‘Adjustment of Status’.

In order to benefit from an adjustment of status, the best thing you can do is to contact a competent immigration attorney that can guide you throughout the procedure and will help you to do it in a speedy way, if you wish to start right away. 

Of course, at Xavier Law Firm, we would be delighted to give you up-to-date information that you will need about immigration in the United States. For instance, we want to talk to you about adjustment of status by marriage, but a similar procedure is in place for different cases of adjustment of status.

If you are about to get married to an American citizen, or your spouse has just obtained legal permanent residence in the country, the information we are about to consider will be of great help if you are expecting to benefit from an adjustment of status.

What is ‘Adjustment of Status’?

The immigration ‘Adjustment of Status’ is a procedure that can be used by a person who is currently in the United States to change his or her status from non-immigrant to immigrant.

A person can request this change of status for different reasons, as long as his or her current legal status in the United States is legal.

This means that if a person is not currently a legal resident or visitor, he or she cannot benefit from this process. If this is your case, one of the things you can do (provided this is a viable option for you) is to leave the country, get a visa in your country of origin, and return to the United States to request the corresponding change of status.

Some of the most important adjustment of status cases are:

  • Family relationships (for spouses, children, and parents of American citizens).
  • Work relationships.
  • Asylum.
  • If you have lived in the United States uninterruptedly for 40 years. 
  • Judicial decisions.
  • Special cases related to minor immigrants.
  • Cooperation with the United States Armed Forces. 

Every single one of these cases requires applicants to meet very specific requirements, otherwise, their adjustment of status will not be approved. 

Keep in mind that if you want to know more about your case in particular (on what basis you can request an adjustment of status, what the requirements are, and so on) do not hesitate to reach out to us. At Xavier Law Firm, our legal team is ready and eager to help you handle your immigration case.

How does ‘Adjustment of Status’ work in the case of marriage?

Adjustment of status in the case of marriage works in the same way as in any other case of adjustment of status.

In this case, the basis for the application is marriage to an American citizen, and be currently living in the United States at the time when the adjustment of status application is made. 

The adjustment of status application can be made in one of 2 ways:

First, the future applicant should be in the United States legally (with a visa) before the wedding. In this way, the applicant can use the given time to formalize the relationship under the law.

Once the couple is legally married, the applicant can immediately make the adjustment of status application.

The second way you can apply is when the fiance does not have a visa to come and stay in the United States.

In this case, the person would need to apply for a K-1 Visa at the American embassy in his or her country of origin. This visa is granted to people who are engaged to American citizens, so they can enter the country in order to get married.

It is important to keep in mind that the wedding must take place within 90 days after the K-1 Visa holder has entered into the country.

Likewise, once the wedding has taken place, the applicant can request the adjustment of status right away.

It is very important to highlight that adjustment of status by marriage is legally valid whether it is a straight or a homosexual marriage. Every person has the right to apply, as long as they meet the requirements.

Who can apply for adjustment of status by marriage?

Any person can apply for adjustment of status by marriage, all people who are not currently legal permanent residents in the United States.

The only additional requirement is that a person must be in the United States legally at the time of applying for the adjustment of status.

If the applicant does not meet these 2 requirements, the application will be denied.

What is the I-485 Form?

The I-485 Form is the application form used to request adjustment of status. This form should be filled in by all the relevant parts.

This document must be presented by the applicant, and it can take about 2-3 weeks for USCIS to answer.

Depending on the basis for the adjustment of status, the I-485 Form should be sent along with other documents that are evidence and proof of adjustment of status. 

In the particular case of adjustment of status by marriage, these documents also apply to both spouses. Some of these documents can be:

  • Copy of the applicant’s visa.
  • Copy of your I-94 (travel history).
  • Proof of the applicant’s nationality (usually, a copy of your birth certificate or passport).
  • Copy of your tax returns, payment receipts of the American spouse (this will be finally used to prove that a person has the economic means to take care of his or her spouse’s needs).  
  • If you were ever arrested in the United States, the sponsoring spouse should present a card given by the court which certifies that no sentence was issued. 
  • The applicant must also include a medical exam done by a physician approved by USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services). In order to find a qualified doctor, you can go to the USCIS website.

The requirements can vary depending on each case. Therefore, it is strongly recommended to talk to an immigration lawyer who can advise you about your particular case.

The documents that we mentioned before are the most common documents requested for the process of adjustment of status by marriage.

“If a person is currently an undocumented alien in the US, he or she cannot take part in this process. In that case, the person should leave the country, process a visa in his or her country of origin, and then you can return to the United States. The adjustment of status can be done with a tourist visa.”

What are the steps to apply for adjustment of status by marriage? 

1. Be married to an American citizen. 

The first thing you must do in order to be eligible for adjustment of status by marriage is, of course, get married to an American citizen. 

Remember that you can adjust your status in 2 ways. The first is by getting a visa before the engagement, and the second is by processing a K-1 Visa that would allow them to travel to the United States and celebrate the wedding up to 90 days after your arrival. 

The only thing that you need to take into account is that your status in the country must be completely legal before you get married.

2. Make the petition to USCIS with the I-485 Form.

The second step is to follow is the application for adjustment status. This should be done using the I-485 Form, about which we discussed above, and the necessary documents must back up your application. 

All the documents must be presented to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

You must also keep in mind that only the applicant can make the adjustment of status petition. You must be present when the documents are delivered, and you must be in the country legally. If you do not meet any of these requirements, your application will be rejected.

Remember that the documents you present vary depending on your case, that is why we recommend you to consult with an immigration lawyer before you send them.

3. Appointment with the support center for your application 

After sending your application, the USCIS team will get in touch with you to give you an appointment in the center of application support.

During the appointment your biometric information will be gathered for processing. Normally, this includes pictures, fingerprints, and your signature.

All of this information will be added to the investigation that USCIS will do to make sure that you are really eligible to be granted legal permanent residence in the United States. 

Once you send your application, the appointment date can take from 2 to 3 weeks, which is why we recommend that you periodically check your email.

4. The interview

Once your biometric information is taken, you will be notified about the date and time of your interview. During the interview, you should answer to all of the questions related to your application under federal oath.

You should take all of the original documents that backed up your application. For example, your passport, visa, marriage certificate, forms, and etc. 

Keep in mind that this interview will depend on whether your application has been been approved or not. That is why you have to be as honest as possible with the information you provide, so there are no delays.

5. Final Decision

Once the entire process is complete, you only need to wait for an email with the final decision from USCIS.

The decision will not be immediate, since it is possible that the authorities will be trying to confirm the information you provided or run security checks. You need to be alert again, and check your email until the answer has arrived.

If your application is denied, you can appeal. However, in these cases we recommend you to consult an immigration lawyer that can assess your case and help you win in the appealing process. 

Does the Adjustment of Status process guarantee permanent residence in the United States? 

The main goal of the adjustment of status process is for the person who applies for permanent residence in the United States to acquire it, and that he or she may have no need to apply for another visa.

You can be sure that when your adjustment of status has been approved, it is highly unlikely that your legal permanent residence in the United States will be rejected.

Of course, it is very important to keep in mind that for this to work, you will have to meet all of the necessary requirements to succeed in changing the status you are applying for.

If you do not meet all of the requirement, it will be most likely denied, and in such a case, you will have to wait until you actually meet all of the requirements and apply again.

Xavier Law Firm recommends you to get an Immigration attorney that can guide you or smoothly take you though the adjustment of status process. In this way, you will be sure that your chances of success will increase, and you will avoid any problems.

Is it necessary to have an immigration lawyer to apply for adjustment of status?

It is not absolutely necessary to get an immigration attorney to apply for adjustment of status by marriage. However, if you do not know American immigration law, a competent immigration attorney would be of great help.

When you are not used to these kind of processes, or you do them without any help, things might not work out. The best thing you can do before you start with these proceedings is to leave it in the hands of qualified professionals who can be in charge of your case.

An immigration attorney will not only help you with information or guide you throughout the process, he or she will make sure that you meet all the requirements so that you can successfully submit your application. He will answer to all of your questions and will help you in whatever you might need during the process

Make sure that you choose your attorney wisely. He must be a lawyer who has experience in immigration law, and he must be able to tell you fixed prices per each process or part of the process. And after hearing your case, a competent attorney will be able to estimate how long your case will take.

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