BY: NILÜFER LEUTHOLD
Adjustment of Status (AOS) is the process of applying for lawful permanent resident status, also known as Green Card. When the US citizen spouse and his/her foreign national spouse are living in the US, they are eligible to apply to adjust the foreign spouse’s status. If you immigrated on a K1-visa like many of our members, you can start this process as soon as you are married.
Keep in mind that this information is based on personal experiences and personal research of USCIS processes. Each case if different, and you should always be prepared to do excessive research on your own.
You will mostly file the following forms together; one will be submitted by the sponsor (US citizen spouse) and the other by you (foreign spouse).
· The first step is that your sponsor (US citizen spouse) fills out Form I-130, where he/she states that the foreign spouse is his/her immediate relative, along with the marriage certificate. The following link will help you with instructions to fill out the form; www.uscis.gov/i-130. The filing fee for the I-130 form is around $550.
· Then, the foreign spouse will fill out Form I-485 that requests the AOS. If you are applying to AOS without help from an attorney, I strongly recommend reading the instructions for application in the following link. Filling out these forms are tricky so take your time and do your research. The filing fee for the I-485 form is around $1200.
My recommendation: as soon as you get married, fill out both forms and send them along with supporting documents to USCIS. However, if you prefer to file Form I-130 and wait for Approval or Receipt Notice, and then file Form I-485 this will work too. However, it may take longer. I just want to ensure you that you actually can submit both forms together.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
After submitting these documents with the above-mentioned forms, you will receive a receipt of notice. All information you need to know will be included in the papers sent to you from USCIS.
· You can apply for employment authorization by submitting form Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
· You will receive a fingerprint and biometric appointment.
· Depending on your country of origin and medical background, you might have to go through a medical exam conducted by a doctor listed on USCIS website https://www.uscis.gov/greencard/medical-exam-find-a-doctor.
· Lastly, you will get an appointment for your final interview. The interview is a brief conversation where you will talk about your immigration status, your marriage and your life in the US. You are expected to show up together with your spouse. If your spouse is deployed during the time of your appointment, you need to bring a copy of his deployment orders to your interview.
Once you have completed the interview, your Green Card will show up in the mail within a few days, weeks or months. In terms of timing - we never know, and each case is different. Stay patient, friend!
It is important that you save documents, photos, messages, bills and other important evidence of your marriage during your time in the US. You will need it in multiple steps of your immigration process.
REMOVE CONDITIONS ON THE 2 YEAR GREEN CARD
Yay! You got your Green Card! You will soon notice that it is only valid for about 2 years. What to do now?
The conditional green card is like a probation period for 2 years during which you and your spouse build a record of your married relationship together. At the end of the 2-year period stated on your Green Card, you will file jointly to remove the condition and send proof of your continuing good faith marriage.
About 90 days before your Green Card expires, you will have to file I-751 Form jointly with your spouse. Follow this link to read the instructions for this form. The filing fee for the I-751 form is around $550.
Similar to Permanent Residence (Green Card) process you will have to provide identification documents, application fees and supporting documents of your marriage.
· You will receive a biometrics appointment notice. Once again, you will be asked for digital fingerprints and additional biometrics work.
· In some cases, you might be called in for an additional interview together with your spouse.
If the case is approved, you will receive an approval notice together with the 10-year green card in the mail. The 10-year green card must be renewed every 10 years.
The immigrant spouse may be eligible to apply to be Naturalized as a United States Citizens through his/her spouse as early as 3 years from the time they received their conditional residence card.