The United States immigration process is confusing for most people, and while some individuals can navigate the system alone, many people find it helpful to work alongside an immigration attorney to achieve immigration goals. Adjusting status from a nonimmigrant visa holder to a lawful permanent resident (and eventual citizen) is a long process that requires careful attention to detail.
The United States Immigration and Citizenship Services (USCIS) is the agency that handles petitions seeking the adjustment of status. Certain requirements must be met to ensure a petition is submitted free of errors. Taking on the risk to complete the adjustment of status process without the assistance of an attorney may lead to the need to resubmit a corrected petition, which takes the applicant back to square one.
At Sabir Law Group, Ejaz A. Sabir is a dedicated immigration attorney serving clients from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania as well as the greater Philadelphia area. Attorney Sabir is an immigrant himself and speaks six different languages.
An immigration attorney who has gone through the immigration and adjustment of status process himself is an advocate who possesses the necessary experience and dedication to help fellow immigrants seek green cards. Reach out to Sabir Law Group today to discuss the process for adjusting status for a spouse or child.
When a person born outside of the United States wishes to enter the country, they must do so lawfully by entering the country with a valid visa obtained at a U.S. consulate or through a visa waiver program.
Many individuals enter the United States with tourist visas, temporary work visas, student visas, and other nonimmigrant visas that are intended for temporary stays in the country. When a nonimmigrant visa holder wishes to obtain lawful permanent residence status (as a green card holder), they must go through a process called “adjustment of status.”
Adjusting status is the process of applying for what most people refer to as a “green card.” A green card is a document that shows a person is a lawful permanent resident in the United States. The next step after obtaining a green card — which lasts ten years and must be renewed thereafter — is becoming a U.S. citizen if the green card holder wishes to do so.
Individuals can obtain a green card through employment or other means, but a common way to obtain a green card is through marriage. Spouses and children of U.S. citizens and green card holders are eligible to obtain a green card themselves through the adjustment of status process, which happens if the spouse and/or child is already living in the United States on a valid visa.
Even if a spouse or child’s visa has expired, the adjustment of status process can still continue as long as their entry into the United States was lawful. If a marriage has not yet taken place, the non-American counterpart may enter the country on a nonimmigrant fiancé visa, but the marriage must take place within 90 days of their arrival.
When seeking to adjust their status, the person seeking a green card must remain in the United States for at least 90 days before applying. Seeking a green card immediately after entering the United States is a sign to USCIS and immigration authorities that their intent was to enter the country for the sole purpose of obtaining a green card.
A person wishing to enter the country permanently must adhere to certain requirements before traveling to the United States. If a non-American fiancé enters the United States with a fiancé visa, and a wedding takes place within 90 days, the couple must wait an additional 90 days before applying to adjust their status.
The adjustment of status process can be confusing, which is just one very good reason why applicants should work with an immigration attorney before filing the required USCIS paperwork. A brief timeline of the process, which can differ from case to case, includes the following:
The person seeking a green card must ensure they are eligible to receive one (if the applicant is a spouse — whether the marriage took place in the U.S. or another country — or if the applicant is a child, the applicant is eligible to apply for adjustment of status).
The U.S. citizen spouse or green card holder must file Form I-130, which is the initial petition for a family-based green card.
Once the I-130 petition is approved by USCIS, the non-American spouse and/or child will file Form I-485, which is the petition seeking permanent residence status, which would be the issuance of a green card. If the spouse or child is already living in the United States, Form I-130 and form I-485 can be filed at the same time.
Once Form I-485 is approved, the green card applicant will receive information about a biometrics appointment, which is when USCIS obtains fingerprints and photographs of the applicant.
After biometrics is complete, and USCIS is satisfied with all information so far, an interview may be scheduled. The interview is extremely important, as the USCIS will attempt to determine whether the marriage is legitimate or was arranged for the sole purpose of getting a green card.
The timeline for the entire process can take well over one year, and perhaps up to two years or longer.
If USCIS requires an interview, which it does in most cases, the married couple and/or child will meet with a USCIS officer to undergo an interview. The person asking questions may ask that the parties be separated if they believe a marriage is fraudulent. Many individuals choose to have an immigration attorney present at the interview, which can alleviate stress.
The interviewer may ask to see pictures, correspondence (emails, letters, texts, and social media posts/messages, etc.) that support the validity of the marriage. While the interview can be extremely stressful, it is the final step before obtaining a conditional green card, which is valid for two years.
Within 90 days of the expiration of the conditional green card, the green card holder can apply to have the conditions removed, which would result in full lawful permanent residence. The green card will last for 10 years, but the green card holder can apply for U.S. citizenship after three years when the green card was obtained through marriage.
If you are a U.S. citizen or green card holder, and you wish to help your spouse or child adjust their status to become a lawful permanent resident, you need a knowledgeable immigration attorney. Sabir Law Group has the experience and resources to help you through the adjustment of status application process. Reach out today to schedule your consultation.