Are you an Immediate Relative or an otherwise qualifying family member, of a U.S. Citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident, who wishes to have a Green Card so that you may live permanently in the United States? Has that Immediate Relative or qualifying Family Member already submitted an I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf? If that I-130 has been approved, you are now eligible to seek your Green Card

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Depending on the basis for your approved I-130, you will have differing wait times for the processing of your Green Card application.

If you are outside of the United States, you may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States and be admitted as a permanent resident. This pathway is referred to as consular processing.

If you are already in the United States, you can apply for permanent resident status without having to return to your home country to complete processing. This process is called adjustment of status. For more information, see our Adjustment of Status page.

If the basis for your approved I-130 is one of the following relationships, you will have the shortest wait time (only the time it takes to process your application), as there is no annual limit to the number of Green Cards available for the following qualifying “Immediate Relative” relationships:

  • Spouse of a U.S. Citizen
  • Minor (under 21) Unmarried Child of a U.S. Citizen
  • Parent of a U.S. Citizen (and the Citizen is at least 21)

In contrast, if the basis for your approved I-130 is one of the following family-based preference categories; for family member relationships that aren’t considered “immediate Relatives” for purposes of the law, you will have a longer wait time. Why? Because there are annual quotas for Green Cards available to family members in these categories. What’s more, there are additional per-country/nationality quotas that may or may not further delay issuance of Green Cards for these categories; as no more than 7 percent of the total visas (around 25,600) can be used by nationals of any one country.

  • F1: Unmarried Adult Child over 21 of a U.S. Citizen, and their minor children (if any)
  • F2: Spouse, Minor Child, or Unmarried Adult Child (over 21) of a Lawful Permanent Resident
  • F3: Married Child of a U.S. Citizen (can bring along their spouses and minor children)
  • F4: Brother or Sister of a U.S. Citizen who is 21 years of age at least (siblings can bring along their spouses and minor children)

If you are in the second category, you will most likely, due to quota and visa unavailability, have a much longer wait time. Thus, although not always the case, the majority of applicants in the second category will have to pursue their Green Cards through Consular Processing in their home countries abroad. If you are in the Immediate Relative category, and you are in the United States, you will pursue your Green Card through a process called Adjustment of Status. If you are in the Immediate Relative category but you are abroad, then you will pursue your Green Card through Consular Processing. At Zontlaw we don’t currently handle Consular Processing matters, unfortunately. However, if you are in the United States and have an approved I-130, we will be more than happy to assist you with obtaining your Green Card via the process we will describe below.

Adjustment of Status to obtain a Green Card from inside the United States:

Generally, if you have an approved I-130 and the basis for it was an “Immediate Relative” category petition, and you are currently inside the United States, then this process will be available to you. If you are in the United States and have a longer-term nonimmigrant visa (think H-1B for example), and you’re seeking to Adjust Status based on an approved I-130 with a Family Preference relationship; serving as the basis for that I-130 approval, then this Adjustment of Status route may also work for you. If you are in the second category just described, it will be important for you to talk to an experienced Immigration Attorney before proceeding with the Adjustment of the Status route we are about to describe. So, if you are currently in the United States with an approved I-130, then the next important consideration is that you were lawfully admitted or paroled into the U.S. (talked to someone at a port of entry). If you were lawfully admitted or paroled into the United States, then you are most likely eligible to obtain a Green Card by applying to Adjust your Status, using Form I-485.

Your application to Adjust your Status to that of a Permanent Resident/Green Card holder is more than just simply preparing and submitting a Form I-485. In addition to this form, you will also need to submit, or consider submitting (in the case of optional forms), the following documents:

  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support. This mandatory form is used to show that you have the financial support necessary to live in the United States as a Permanent Resident.
  • Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. This is to make sure that you do not have any health inadmissibility grounds that would prevent you from being a Permanent Resident.
  • Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. This is an optional form, but unless you are retired, you are probably going to want to file this so that you can work.
  • Form I-131, Application for Travel Document. This form is also optional, but it is free to file with your Adjustment of Status application, and it permits you to travel outside of the U.S. and is necessary for reentering the United States.

These forms are just the official USCIS forms that you have to submit or should consider submitting (in the case of optional forms), and you’ll have to submit additional supporting documentation and USCIS filing fees. About 2 or 3 weeks after submitting the above documents and the required supporting documentation, if everything was prepared correctly and error-free, you’ll receive notice of receipt by USCIS of your petition in the form of a “Form I-797C.” This document is basically notice that you are officially an Adjustment of Status applicant and you will want to keep this form.

Then about 3-5 weeks after filing your petition, you’ll receive another notice from USCIS that is signing you up for fingerprinting and “biometrics.” This is so that the USCIS can run the required criminal background checks on you; as is always required for Adjustment of Status applicants. *If you have a criminal record at all, you’re going to want to mention that to a qualified attorney to see how best to proceed, before even filing your Adjustment of Status application.

About 3-5 months approximately after filing your petition, you should receive an Employment Authorization Document (assuming you submitted the optional I-765), and this document will also have your Advance Parole travel permission on it (if you filed the optional Form I-131). It is important to emphasize that just because you have Advance Parole, this does not mean that you can travel in and out of the United States at will. There are particular travel lengths and other requirements that you’ll have to adhere to as an applicant for Permanent Residence. Consult with an immigration attorney should you have questions on this; should the need for travel abroad arise.

The next step is an Interview. This is a normal part of Adjustment of Status applications but it is possible that it could be waived in any particular case. Most likely, you’ll have an interview and most likely you’ll get notice of this interview, between 4 and 10 months after filing your application. The notice of the interview will come on a Form-797, Notice of Action, and your interview will probably take place around 6 to 12 months after your application to adjust status was filed. For the interview, make sure that: you bring a copy of your petition to the interview, that you have reviewed your answers to the questions and are ready to discuss them, and that you bring the originals of any documents (such as birth or marriage certificates) that you submitted to USCIS, and bring your passport with your nonimmigrant visa and any and all correspondence received by USCIS (such as your EAD card). Sometimes you will be told at the end of the interview that you have received Permanent Residence, in which case you will receive your Green Card in the mail. Other times, it is necessary to wait for additional correspondence, and you still will receive your Green Card by mail. If you are denied, they will tell you the reasons for the denial of your Adjustment of Status application by mail, also.

Thus, with any luck, according to the timeline just described, you should have your Permanent Residency around 8 to 14 months after filing. It is important to emphasize that this process can be complicated, and an experienced Immigration Attorney can greatly help you with this application and all the steps outlined. If you are ready to get your Adjustment of Status application based on an already approved I-130, click on one of the buttons below!

Also, see what is “Concurrent filing of Form I-485” and when an immigrant petition and the adjustment application are filed at the same time and mailed together.

How I can Check my case status?

You may check your case status online or call our USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 to check the status of your Form I-485

What is concurrent filing?

A not long time ago USCIS’s, implemented a new rule allowing the filing of an I-485 and a Form I-140 petition at the same time and provided a visa number is available at the time of filing. Concurrent filing associated with EB-1 and EB-2 beneficiaries.

How long will I have to wait for approve my application?

Once you file your Application for Adjustment of Status on Form I-485, the length of time it will take depends upon the current processing time and that can vary depending upon your location. It depends on whether your Green card application is employment-based or family-based or another immigration category. 

Employment-based adjustments can take anywhere from six months to two years to be approved.

Family-based, it could take at least 12-18 months or longer before your I-485 application could be adjudicated. 

Can I leave the country while my adjustment is pending?

Yes, but only if you have received advance parole (referred to as a travel document). Once you are eligible to apply for an adjustment of status, You can apply for advance parole with form I-131 at the same. Once their travel documents are approved, even with pending adjustment applications, you be able to travel (as long as their adjustments remain pending).

How long does it take to get a marriage-based Green Card?

Here’s how long it typically takes:

  • If you are in the U.S. and your spouse is a U.S. citizen, the waiting time is about 10–14 months and between 12-18 months If You are currently abroad, it takes longer for Green Card holder’s spouses: approximately 30–38 months if in the U.S and 23–32 months via Consular processing.
How much does it cost to get a green card?

The USCIS is not stopping you from dating online, just simply requires the petitioner to confirm that they meet IMBRA (International Marriage Broker Regulation Act) rules. See details here. 

Contact Attorney Igor Litvak

    Call today for a consultation

    The U.S. Green Card process is very complicated, so the best chance of success comes from working with an experienced immigration attorney.  We are highly experienced in US immigration law. Our attorneys, translators, and support staff will work with you individually to give you the best chance of success possible. We know how difficult the Adjustment of Status process can be, and we will be with you every step of the way.

    Your citizenship or your residency status is something you should entrust to a professional. Call the top New York Immigration Attorneys toll-free at 1-888-ZONTLAW / 1-888-966-8529.


    This article is intended to give you an overview of the various Immigrant Family Preference Categories that exist, the number…
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