What is Adjustment of Status?
Adjustment of Status, also referred to as AOS, is the process through which a beneficiary applies for lawful permanent resident status from within the United States. Once the application is approved, the beneficiary is granted an I-551 permanent resident card (more commonly referred to as a green card). Following receipt of the green card, the beneficiary receives the right to reside and be employed within the United States. The majority of adjustment of status applications are granted through family relations or through an employer.
The Adjustment of Status Process
The adjustment of status process consists of a number of steps that can take months to complete.
The basic process is as follows:
- Medical Examination - Conducted by a USCIS-approved surgeon prior to submitting Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status application). The results are recorded by the surgeon on Form I-693 (Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record), sealed in an envelope and are valid for one year following the date of the exam.
- USCIS Filing – I-485 Adjustment of Status application mailed to USCIS along with all supporting documentation.
- Acknowledgement of Filing – After mailing in the application, the applicant will receive a notice of action (NOA) Form I-797C acknowledging the filing of the I-485 and any other needed actions. If no requests for evidence or other documents are made, no additional actions are needed.
- Biometrics Appointment - USCIS issues another Notice of Action notifying the applicant of a biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment, indicating the date, time, and place. Failure to make the biometrics appointment can result in cancelation (abandonment) of the application by USCIS.
- Adjustment of Status Interview – Some applicants will receive a Notice of Action requiring them to attend an adjustment interview with a USCIS officer. Updated documentation must be brought to the interview. Many applicants will not have to be interviewed provided that all their documentation is in order.
- Final Notice of Action – USCIS informs the applicant when adjustment of status has been either approved or denied. At this point, the applicant may receive a temporary green card stamp in their passport.
- Green Card – If Adjustment of Status is approved, the I-551 green card is mailed to the applicant.
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 May, 2021 are as follows:
|USCIS I-485 Filing Fee||$1,140|
Note that there will be an additional filing fee of $535 if the applicant is concurrently filing an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative.
The number of forms required to file vary according to the applicant’s classification and status. Generally, the following 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 Processing Times
Adjustment of status processing times have increased significantly in recent years, due to COVID-19 delays and the former Trump administration’s restrictive legal immigration policies.
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 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
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 is met, the resident then gains the full benefits of being a US citizen.