What Is Adjustment of Status Through Marriage?
Adjustment of Status through marriage is one of the ways a foreign national can change their US immigration status.
The process is specifically for immigrants who entered the US on a non-immigrant (temporary) visa and who wish to attain lawful permanent resident status and obtain green cards due to their marriage to a US citizen or permanent resident. It allows the immigrant to remain in the US while the application is pending, even if their temporary visa expires in the process.
So, if you’re a foreign national married to a US citizen or permanent resident, immigration law allows you to upgrade your immigration status based on that of your spouse. If this is your current situation, it is important that you know what the process entails and the conditions you may need to fulfill before obtaining a green card. Continue reading to get more information.
d or permanent resident card. All legal permanent residents are required by law to take their green cards along at all times as an identification of their residency and immigration status.
Green cards are only valid for ten years. Thus, a valid green card holder must apply for renewal before this validity period expires. Similarly, if your green card is misplaced, stolen, or destroyed, you should get a new one.
Knowing the deadlines and length of the green card renewal process is crucial for permanent residents. Nevertheless, given the procedure’s complexity, it is best to seek the assistance of a skilled green card attorney.
Who Can Apply for Adjustment of Status Through Marriage?
You need to meet some conditions to qualify for an adjustment of status through marriage and obtain a marriage-based green card. They include the following:
You should be physically present in the United States.
You have to meet the immigration requirement of admissibility into the US. The most common cause of inadmissibility is a criminal record. However, depending on the crime in question, you may be able to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility.
Your entry into the US was legal. An expired temporary visa does not automatically disqualify you if you entered the US on a valid visa or through a visa waiver program.
Your marriage to a US citizen or permanent resident spouse must be legitimate. This means that it must not be an arrangement for immigration purposes. You will need to prove this to immigration authorities through documentation and interviews.
To prevent or minimize marriage fraud, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) carefully scrutinizes applications for adjustment of status through marriage. So, it is important to ensure that every aspect of your application is in order before you proceed. To achieve this, it may be necessary to consult an immigration attorney for guidance before beginning the adjustment of status process.
Applying for Adjustment of Status Through Marriage: Documents You'll Need
To apply for adjustment of status through marriage, you’ll likely need the following documents to support your application:
- Marriage certificate
- Birth certificate
- Proof of legal entry into the US
- Proof of spouse’s citizenship or legal permanent residence
- Evidence of marriage legitimacy: This could be pictures, combined assets, benefits, or proof of joint communication channels, like receiving mail at a joint residence.
- Evidence of divorce or death in a previous marriage (if applicable).
You and your citizen/permanent resident spouse also need to file Form I-130-Petition for Alien Relative and Form I-485-Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to kickstart the process.
You may also need to file other forms such as the medical examination, employment authorization, and Affidavit of Support forms.
The specific forms and supporting documents you need to file with the USCIS often depend on the unique circumstance of your case. To avoid any mistakes, consider consulting with an immigration lawyer to get legal advice and guidance with the process. Doing so could increase the chances of your application being successful.
How to Apply for Adjustment of Status
File Your Form and Pay the Filing Fees
Filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is the first step; your spouse can file it for you online. You will then have to wait for the USCIS to process and approve it. You may also need to wait for a visa to be available for your preference category before you can file form I-485 via mail.
However, if you are the spouse of a US citizen, you do not need to apply for an IR1 spousal immigration visa before filing Form I-485 since you’re already in the US. In this case, you can file both forms simultaneously to shorten your application’s processing time. You can check the USCIS website for the appropriate mailing location.
The above forms also attract filing fees you need to pay before submitting your application. The cost of filing Form I-130 is currently set at $535, while that for Form I-485 is set at $1,140.
After filing these forms, you will receive a notice of receipt. You will also get a mail notifying you of the location, date, and time of your biometrics appointment at an Application Support Center (ASC).
They will collect your personal information like fingerprints, photographs, and other facts about you. The information is used to conduct a background check on you, verify your identity, check your records, and access any other relevant information about you.
With all the information the USCIS has, they will determine whether there is a need to physically interview you or not. Then they will send details of the interview if required in your case. You may be required to go with your petitioning spouse. Also, you will need to attend the interview with the original copies of the supporting documents you submitted with your application.
If the USCIS officer is unsatisfied with the evidence submitted or is not convinced of your eligibility, they may request additional evidence. They will also give a deadline within which you need to submit the required evidence. Failure to meet the deadline may result in your application being rejected.
Check Your Case Status and Receive a Decision
You can follow up with the status of your case online. USCIS will notify you when they have decided on your application. If it is approved, you will receive the approval notice a few weeks before the green card. Otherwise, they will notify you of its denial and if you may appeal the decision.
Immigration Status Adjustment Through Marriage: Processing Timeline
The processing timeline for each stage in the adjustment of status process varies depending on the service center in charge of your case and whether you are a US citizen’s spouse or a permanent resident’s spouse.
Generally, the process may take a year to complete if you’re a citizen’s spouse and double the time for a green card holder’s spouse. You can check the USCIS website for up-to-date processing times.
What Happens if My Adjustment of Status Application is Denied?
If your adjustment of status application is denied, it can be a setback, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the end of your journey towards becoming a lawful permanent resident. The USCIS, in accordance with immigration laws, will provide a written explanation of the reasons for the denial. These can range from minor technical issues, such as missing documentation, to more significant concerns, such as a failure to establish eligibility, for example, insufficient evidence of a bona fide marriage to a U.S. citizen spouse.
In many cases, you can file a motion to reconsider or a motion to reopen the case with USCIS. A motion to reconsider is based on an argument that USCIS made an incorrect decision based on law or immigration policy. A motion to reopen is based on the existence of new or additional factual evidence.
If the foreign spouse is not in lawful status at the time of denial, they could be at risk of removal (deportation). However, in practice, USCIS often does not immediately begin removal proceedings and you may have time to explore other immigration options such as consular processing to obtain an immigrant visa.
Can I Work While My Adjustment of Status Application is Pending?
Yes, you can work while your adjustment of status application is pending, but only if you have applied for and received a work permit known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). When you apply for adjustment of status using Form I-485, you can also file Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, to request an EAD.
The EAD provides legal authorization to work in the United States for a specified period, typically one year, and can be renewed if your adjustment of status application is still pending when it expires.
How an Immigration Attorney Can Help You
When applying for an adjustment of status through marriage, it may seem expensive to hire a law firm. However, they could save you a lot of stress, time, and money in the long run by helping you file correctly so your application is not rejected.
An experienced immigration attorney knows what is required to scale through each stage of the adjustment of status process and can help you avoid any mistakes that could negatively affect your application.
If you’ve been searching for a reliable immigration attorney or law firm to help with your immigration applications or adjustment of status, consider contacting Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law. We’d be glad to work with you and help you finalize the details of your permanent stay in the US.