ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS AN OVERVIEW
How to Get a Green Card through Adjustment of Status
1. See If You Qualify to Apply for a Green Card
Under U.S. immigration laws, there are numerous options for applying for a Green Card. However, the prerequisites for adjustment of status may vary depending on the classification that you are applying under. So the first step in the adjustment of status process is to see which category matches your circumstances. Go to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Green Card Eligibility Categories page to view all of the classifications. Once you identify a suitable category, go to the specific page that lists what the eligibility requirements are.
2. You or Someone Else Must File an Immigrant Petition for You
In most cases, Green Card applicants must fill out at least two forms—an immigrant petition and a Green Card application. More often than not, a relative who already has a Green Card, or who is a U.S. citizen, or an employer must complete the petition on your behalf. However, there are some situations in which you may qualify to file it yourself.
The forms used most often are:
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
- Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
- Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
- Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal
Other petitions include:
- Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant
- Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
- Form I-918, Petition of U Nonimmigrant Status
- Form I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant
In the vast majority of cases, an applicant pursuing lawful permanent resident status through adjustment of status must have an approved immigrant petition prior to filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence, or Adjust Status. Depending on your immigrant classification, however, it may be possible to file Form I-485 when the immigrant petition is filed or while the immigrant petition is pending. This is called “concurrent filing.” For more information on concurrent filing, visit the USCIS Concurrent Filing page. You can also visit the Green Card Eligibility Categories page to determine if an immigrant petition is or is not required for each category.
3. Check Visa Availability (if applicable)
In general, you can’t file your Form I-485 until a visa is available in your category. Comprehensive information about this requirement can be found on the Visa Availability and Priority Dates page, the Adjustment of Status Filing Charts, and the Visa Bulletin on the Department of State website. To learn about exceptions to the visa availability requirement, please check your specific immigrant category for more information.
4. File Form I-485
At this point, if you are already in the United States and meet all of the requirements for adjustment of status, you can file Form I-485. For detailed information about how to do so, see the Form I-485 instructions and the web page for your immigrant category. If you are applying to adjust your status to a lawful permanent resident under section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), you must complete both Form I‑485 and Form I-485 Supplement A, Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i).
5. Go to Your Biometric Services Appointment
After you file your Form I-485, USCIS will send you a notice about your biometrics services appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC). This is where you will provide your fingerprints, photograph, and/or signature. The notice will include the date, time, and location of the appointment. USCIS uses your biometrics to verify your identity and conduct required background and security checks. During the appointment, USCIS will ask you to sign an official acknowledgment certifying, for example, that you reviewed all the information in your application and that all the information in your application was complete, true, and correct at the time you filed it. If you do not sign the acknowledgment or fail to show up at your biometrics appointment without informing USCIS and seeking permission to reschedule your appointment, your Form I-485 may be denied. See Preparing for Your Biometrics Services Appointment to learn more.
6. Go to Your Interview (if necessary)
USCIS officials will review your case to determine whether an interview is necessary. If you are selected for an interview, you must go to a USCIS office to answer questions regarding your Form I‑485. USCIS will send you a notice with the date, time, and location of the interview. When you come to your interview, you (and the person who filed the immigrant petition for you, if applicable) must bring the originals of all supporting paperwork submitted with the Form I-485 application. This includes passports, official travel documents, and Form I-94, regardless of whether or not they are current.
7. Respond to Request for Additional Evidence (if necessary)
You may get a request for additional evidence from USCIS if:
- You initially failed to provide all of the required evidence;
- The evidence you submitted is no longer valid; or
- USCIS needs more information to determine your eligibility.
The official request will indicate what you must provide. It will also inform you about where to send the evidence and the deadline for doing so. If you do not respond to the request promptly, your Form I-485 may be denied. Not all applicants receive a request for additional evidence.
8. Check Your Case Status
Visit check your case status online to monitor the progress of your application, or call the USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 to verify the status of your Form I-485. If you are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability: TTY 800-767-1833. Be prepared to give the USCIS representative specific information about your application, such as your receipt number, A-Number, name, and date of birth.
9. Receive a Decision
When USCIS makes a decision on your application, you will get a written decision notice. If your application is approved, you generally will receive an approval notice first and then receive your actual Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) shortly thereafter. If USCIS denies your application, the decision notice will include the reason(s) for the denial and applicable grounds for appeal (if any). Even if you cannot appeal, you may qualify to file a motion to reopen or reconsider. Both appeals and motions are filed on Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion. To learn more, see the USCIS Questions and Answers: Appeals and Motions page.