How to Apply for Marriage Green Card through Adjustment of Status?
A step-by-step guide to get marriage green card in the U.S.
Updated on 10/14/2023
If you are currently inside the U.S., and you are an alien who has married a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident (also known as green card holder), you may be eligible to apply for green card through adjustment of status. If you plan to wait for green card outside the U.S., you need to go ahead with Consular Processing. If you have a K-1 fiancé(e) visa and would like to file an adjustment of status application to obtain a green card, please click at our Adjust Status after Entry on K1 visa to learn how to do that.
1. Who may be eligible for marriage green card through adjustment of status?
Assume you meet all of the following requirements, you can be granted a marriage green card through adjustment of status:
If you have married a U.S. citizen
If you have married a lawful permanent resident
There are numerous grounds of inadmissibility under INA 212. For example, communicable diseases, certain crimes, fraud in any visa application, certain memberships or activities against national security, likely to become a “public charge”, or removed or deported previously, are the most commonly applied grounds of inadmissibility.
Not sure if you’re eligible to apply for marriage green card through adjustment of status? You can free check eligibility through DYgreencard.com without providing any personal information. Check eligibility here if married a U.S. citizen, check eligibility here if married a lawful permanent resident. When you’re ready to apply, DYgreencard.com can assist you in preparing a complete adjustment of status application package.
2. What forms needed to apply for a marriage-based adjustment of status application?
The form for adjustment of status application is called Form I-485. However, you cannot file an I-485 without an I-130 immigrant petition. Form I-130 (Form I-130A is also required) is filed by your spouse to start the immigrant petition for you. Good news is that if your spouse is a U.S citizen, then your spouse can file Form I-130 together with your I-485. If your spouse is a lawful permanent resident, in certain months, your spouse can also file Form I-130 together with your I-485 as long as the visa number is current under F2A category in the Visa Bulletin.
In addition, you may choose to file Form I-765 together with I-485 to apply for a work permit (EAD) and SSN without additional filing fee. If you plan to have intentional travels in the near future, you may also file Form I-131 together with I-485 to apply for an Advance Parole without additional filing fee. However, for some applicants, travel internationally might negative significantly their green card applications. So it is advisable to consult an immigration attorney before making any international travel.
Frustrating thing is that each form has its own supporting document requirements. Moreover, supporting documents vary by applicant’s situation as well. You may have a general idea about their supporting documents in our article Document Checklist for Marriage Green Card Application.
3. How much cost to apply for marriage green card through adjustment of status?
$1140 + $85 biometric fee (not required if 79 years of age or older)
A doctor who conducts a medical exam will charge $400 on average.
Attorney fee if retain one
4. Where to file the adjustment of status application?
5. How long will it take to get marriage green card through adjustment of status?
The processing time for marriage-based adjustment of status application depends on your situation and where you physically reside.
If your spouse is a U.S. citizen, the processing time ranges from 3 to 24 months. Determined by your physical address, you might get a marriage green card within 3 months if the USCIS local office serving your area has light caseload. Unfortunately, many USCIS local offices have heavy caseload so it really takes a long time to finally get your marriage green card.
If your spouse is a lawful permanent resident, the processing time ranges from 12 to 36 months. Again, a more accurate estimate on processing time depends on your physical address which determines a specific USCIS local office has jurisdiction over your application. Some USCIS local offices process much faster than others because of light caseload.
6. What happens after filing the adjustment of status application?
1) I-797 receipt notice
If you file all the forms properly, USCIS will initially respond by mailing you letters that confirms receipt of them. The receipt letter is formally known as Form I-797C, Notice of Action and arrives approximately 3-6 weeks after filing.
2) Appointment for biometrics
Approximately 4-8 weeks after filing, you will receive an appointment notice that assigns your biometrics appointment date, time and location. The location will generally be the USCIS Application Support Center nearest you. USCIS requires applicants to be fingerprinted for the purpose of conducting a security clearance and criminal background check. Don’t be alarmed — all applicants must have background checks. Learn more about appointment for biometrics in our Biometrics Appointment FAQ.
3) Request for initial evidence (most likely not)
If you have filed a complete application package with adequate evidence, it is unlikely that you will receive a request for initial evidence. However, applicants that have not provided sufficient initial evidence (like birth certificate of applicant, complete I-864 and its supporting documents) will receive this request in the mail. Normally, a request for initial evidence is issued in 2-4 months after the filing of the application. It is important to respond to the letter with the requisite evidence. Usually, you will have 87 days to respond the request for initial evidence. If you are uncertain of the necessary action, this is a good time to contact an immigration attorney.
4) Receive work permit (EAD), Advance Parole and SSN (if you filed I-765 & I-131 with I-485)
Generally, within 4-8 months after the filing of the adjustment of status application, you will receive a work permit (EAD) and SSN in separate mails if USCIS receives all the initial evidence. It will take about 12-18 months to receive an Advance Parole. With an EAD, you are entitled to work legally in the U.S. before you get a green card. You may also apply for a driver license with an EAD. With an Advance Parole, you may travel internationally under certain circumstances. The EAD is valid for 5 years and AP is valid for 1 year only, but you may renew it without filing fee as long as your I-485 application is pending with USCIS.
5) Adjustment of status interview (most applicants are exempt from interviews)
According to the new policy of USCIS at the end of December 2022, the USCIS will minimize the interviews for marriage green card applications, and actively use the method of issuing Request for Evidence to collect documents to verify a bona-fide marriage. Meanwhile, the USCIS reserves the right to arrange a green card interview for applicants with certain special circumstances.
If you are scheduled for an interview by the USCIS, you will get an interview notice in the mail about 1 month prior to the interview date. It indicates the date, time, location (one of USCIS local offices) and documents you need bring to the interview. Your spouse must appear at the interview as well. You can bring an interpreter with you, but not mandatory because USCIS now have phone interpreting service. In most cases, both of you will be interviewed together in front of an immigration officer.
Basically, the purpose of adjustment of status interview is:
Good preparation and performance at the interview is critical to your success in the adjustment of status application. Learn more about how to prepare and what to expect at the interview in our I-485 Adjustment of Status Interview FAQ.
6) Second interview (if USCIS doubts the truth of marriage)
Second interview is usually called the Stokes interview. It occurs when the immigration officer conducting the adjustment of status interview suspects that a couple’s marital status is fraudulent. Practically, if you heard nothing from USCIS more than 6 months after the initial interview, most likely you will receive a Stokes interview notice from USCIS eventually. What’s worse is that a Stokes interview will significantly delay your application for another 1- 2 years.
At the Stokes interview, you and your spouse will be interviewed separately. The immigration officer will ask very private information and trifling matters of everyday life of you and your spouse, like what you ate last night? Who did laundry last weekend? Draw a simple floor plan for your bedding room, and so on. There are dozens of questions that the officer will ask both of you separately. As a result, the Stokes interview will last 3-6 hours. Both of you will be recorded. At the end of the Stokes interview, your answers will be compared for discrepancies. If there are significant discrepancies and you have no reasonable explanation, your adjustment of application will get denied. Therefore, it is highly recommended to consult an experienced immigration attorney before you take part in a Stokes interview.
7) Request for evidence (most likely not)
After the adjustment of status interview (or the Stokes interview if any), if the officer thinks your application is favorable but lack of certain documents, then you will receive a request for evidence in the mail which asks you to submit the specified documents. Usually, you will have 87 days to respond the request for evidence.
8) Receive a marriage green card or a denial notice
After USCIS has fully reviewed your application, USCIS will make adjudication on your application that is approved or denied. If your application is approved, your marriage green card will be mailed to you following with an I-485 approval notice. If your application is denied, USCIS will mail you a notice explaining the reasons for the denial. Apparently, you need an experienced immigration attorney to help you out if denied.
7. Why I get a marriage green card valid for two years only?
If the marriage between you and your spouse is less than 2 years on the date that the immigration officer approves your adjustment of status application, you will obtain a marriage green card valid for two years which needs to be renewed within 90 days before its expiration. You may learn more about how to renew 2 year green card here. If the marriage is more than 2 years on the date that the immigration officer approves your application, you will obtain a ten-year permanent green card.
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