Complete Adjustment of Status Checklist

Updated on January 4, 2024

At a Glance

  • Adjustment of Status is the process of transitioning from nonimmigrant to immigrant status in order to obtain a green card.
  • It involves submitting Form I-485, along with supporting documents, and going through biometric testing and an interview with USCIS.
  • The processing time is typically 6-8 months.
  • Consular processing, which requires returning to the home country, is an alternative.

Adjusting your visa status can be a complex and lengthy process, often taking years. You have to include all the right documents and fill out the relevant forms correctly. In this article, we tell you everything you need to know about applying for an adjustment of status, the documents you’ll need, and more.

What is Adjustment of Status?

Adjustment of status is part of the green card application process. Individuals on nonimmigrant visas have nonimmigrant status, which means that they do not intend or desire to live permanently in the US. So to be eligible for a green card you need to adjust your status from nonimmigrant to immigrant.

Adjustment of status is completed after you have submitted your green card petition and your priority date is current. Only individuals who currently have a temporary visa are eligible for an adjustment of status. Other requirements include:

  • You must currently reside in the US when you file the application
  • You must have entered into the US lawfully

The alternative way to get a green card without adjusting your status is to return to your home country after your nonimmigrant visa expires and go through consular processing. Most people would prefer to avoid the hassle of going all the way home, but some may benefit from consular processing. For instance, if your home country is nearby (like Canada or Mexico) then the cost of traveling home may be less than the cost of filing an I-485.

Adjustment of Status Checklist

Since the process of adjusting your immigration status is intricate, it’s helpful to have a checklist of everything you’ll need from the beginning to ensure the process goes smoothly. We’ve put together a comprehensive list below:

  • Form I-485
  • Two passport-style photos
  • I-94 travel document
  • I-797 approval receipt of your nonimmigrant visa
  • A copy of your Employment Authorization Document, if you have one
  • A copy of your Form I-693 medical examination results, if necessary
  • A job offer letter (if applying for an employment-based green card)
  • A marriage certificate (if applying for a marriage-based green card)
  • A copy of the approval receipt for your green card from the USCIS

Form I-485 for Adjustment of Status

The main form that you must fill out and submit to adjust your status is Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident Status or Adjust Status. The processing time for this document is typically 6 months. Once you have filled out the document as accurately as possible, you will have to either mail it in to the USCIS or submit it online.

Where you submit your Form I-485 will depend on the specific category you are applying under. There are seven different categories: family-based, employment-based, special immigrant, asylum or refugee, human trafficking victim or crime victim, special programs, and a general category for other options. See here to find out where to send your Form I-485.

How to Apply for Adjustment of Status

Adjustment of status petitions are typically processed in 6 months. The application process involves a number of steps, including submitting your packet and completing an interview. The AoS process consists of four steps:

  • Step 1: Submit your application
  • Step 2: Attend a biometric appointment
  • Step 3: Attend a USCIS interview
  • Step 4: Receive your green card

Step 1: Submit your application

Submit your Form I-485, along with relevant documentary evidence, photos, and the I-485 fee. Your packet will include other forms depending on the circumstances of your application. For instance, individuals applying for a family-based green card will have to file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

Step 2: Attend a biometric appointment

Receive your appointment notification for biometric testing at your local USCIS office. At this quick appointment, you will give USCIS a photo, fingerprints, and your signature. With this information, USCIS will complete a criminal background check.

Step 3: Attend a USCIS interview

A few months after your biometrics appointment you will most likely be asked to attend an interview with USCIS (not all applicants are interviewed). USCIS officials will ask you to verify aspects of your adjustment of status application. This appointment typically takes 20-30 minutes.

Step 4: Receive your green card

A few months after your interview you will receive notice of the USCIS’s decision on your application in writing.

Adjustment of Status FAQ

Still have questions about adjustment of status? Here’s some more information on processing time, fees, and other adjustment options.

How long does adjustment of status take?

The processing time for Form I-485 varies, but generally, you can expect it to take 6-8 months from the day you submit your application to when you receive a decision. Unlike the green card application, you cannot use premium processing for Form I-485.

How much is the adjustment of the status fee?

Form I-485 is also one of the most costly applications to file, though the exact amount you will pay depends on your age. The application fee is:

  • $750 for applicants under the age of 14 who are filing alongside their parents
  • $1,140 for applicants under the age of 14 who are NOT filing alongside their parents
  • $1,140 for applicants over the age of 78
  • $1,225 for applicants who do not fall into any of the above categories (this includes an $85 biometric fee)

Is adjustment of status better than consular processing?

Consular processing is typically faster than adjustment of status (4-6 months). Whether consular processing is better for you will depend on where you live. Form I-485 is one of the most expensive to file, so if traveling to your home country would be less expensive than the cost of filing then it may be worthwhile. For most applicants, though, filing an adjustment of status is cheaper and less bothersome.

  • You violated the terms of your nonimmigrant visa by getting charged with a crime
  • You did not enter the country legally
  • You worked in the US without employment authorization
  • You overstayed your nonimmigrant visa and are currently residing illegally in the US

If your application does get rejected you will have the opportunity file again. Many applicants in this situation hire an immigration attorney to figure out what went wrong and ensure their next application is successful.

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.