Breakdown: Adjustment of Status

Adjustment of status is the process of becoming a U.S. permanent resident, green card holder. From filling out the application to securing the proper documents—adjustment of status is long and complex. Here’s a breakdown of the entire process.

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What Is Adjustment of Status?

Adjustment of status is a pathway to U.S. permanent residence, the immigration status of U.S. green card holders. Specifically, adjustment of status is the process for people who are applying for this status change from within the United States. If you live outside of the U.S., you will apply for permanent residence through consular processing.

Can I File for Adjustment of Status? Eligibility Requirements

There are several ways to get a U.S. green card, called “green card eligibility categories.” The two most popular categories are family and employment, but others include refugee and special immigrant.

Green Card through Family

Relatives of current U.S. citizens and permanent residents may be eligible for a U.S. green card, including:

  • Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouse, unmarried child under age 21, parent of U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old)
  • Other relatives of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
    • Family of U.S. citizen including unmarried son or daughter 21 years or older, married son or daughter, brother or sister who is at least 21 years old
    • Family of a permanent resident including spouse, unmarried son or daughter under 21 years, married son or daughter 21 years or older
  • Fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen or the fiancé(e)’s child
  • Widow(er) of a U.S. citizen
  • Abused spouse, child or parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident

Once you determine that you’re eligible, you need your relative to file an immigrant petition for you. In the case of a family-based green card, your relative will need to file the I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

Green Card through Employment

If you have a job offer in the U.S. or are an investor, you may qualify for a green card. There are three employment-based green card categories.

  • Immigrant Worker: there are three preferences in this category
    • First Preference:
      • You have extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; OR
      • You are an outstanding professor or researcher; OR
      • You are a multinational manager or executive who meets certain criteria
    • Second Preference:
      • You are a member of a profession that requires an advanced degree; OR
      • You have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business; OR
      • You are seeking a national interest waiver
    • Third Preference:
      • You are a skilled worker (meaning your job requires a minimum of 2 years training or work experience); OR
      • You are a professional (meaning your job requires at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or a foreign equivalent and you are a member of the profession); OR
      • You are an unskilled worker (meaning you will perform unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training or experience)
  • Physician National Interest Waiver: for physicians who agree to work full-time in clinical practice in designated underserved areas for a set period of time
  • Immigrant Investor: for investors who have invested or are actively in the process of investing at least $1 million (or $500,000 in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. which will create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying employees

Once you determine that you’re eligible, you will need to file an immigrant petition or have your employer file one on your behalf. In the case of an employment-based green card, you will file the I-140, Immigrant Petition for Worker.

How Much Does It Cost to Apply for Adjustment of Status?

For most applicants, the Adjustment of Status I-485 USCIS application fee is $1,225. There are exceptions which may reduce the fee, including age and refugee status. See the USCIS fee chart below for more details.

The I-485 filing fee does NOT include the fee for the immigrant petition. The filing fee for the I-130, Petition for Alien Relative is $535 and the filing fee for the I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker is $700.

If You Are… Form Fee Biometric

Services Fee

Under 14 and filing with the I-485

application of at least one parent

$750 $0 $750
Under 14 and not filing with the I-485

application of at least one parent

$1,140 $0 $1,140
Age 14 – 78 $1,140 $85 $1,225
Age 79 or older $1,140 $0 $1,140
Filing Form I-485 based on having been

admitted to the United States as a refugee

$0 $0 $0

How Long Does It Take? Adjustment of Status Processing Time

It can take several months to several years to get a green card through adjustment of status. There are several factors which determine the processing time of applications, most importantly your green card category.

In certain categories, there is an unlimited number of green cards issued every year (like immediate relatives of U.S. citizens), while others (like siblings of U.S. citizens) have a small yearly cap. In order to get an accurate processing time of your case, you should contact the USCIS.

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