ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS                      

An immigrant is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of living and working permanently in the United States. The alien  must go through a multi-step process to become an immigrant. First, the INS must approve an immigrant petition for you, usually filed by an employer or relative. Second, the State Department must give you an immigrant visa number, even if you are already in the United States. Third, if you are already in the United States, you may apply to adjust to permanent resident status. (If you are outside the United States, you will be notified to go to the local U.S. consulate to complete the processing for an immigrant visa.)

AOS home
Filing Procedure
Processing Times

Affidavit of Support

Adjustment of Status [AOS] is the process to get lawful permanent residence [a green card] inside the U.S. by filing an application (I-485) with the Immigration and Naturalization Service.  Not everyone is eligible to do this. Refer to the Eligibility section to make certain you qualify to adjust your status before proceeding with the application. You may need to consult with an immigration professional to make this determination, especially if a waiver is needed. Consult Us.

If there is a visa available, you can file your application for adjustment of status with CIS Usually this means that you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizens, or if you were subject to a quota, your visa is now current.  

AOS is filed in different places depending on how you intend to adjust. If you are sponsored by a relative, you can file at the local district office. If you are sponsored by an employer, you must file at the Service Center having jurisdiction over your residence. If you are a special immigrant, or under the court's jurisdiction, there are specific rules applying to you.   Back to Top

It is impossible to
address all of the requirements or special situation for an individual to qualify for adjustment of status in the U.S. Generally, the following requirements are needed:

(1) There must be a visa immediately available. If you are an immediate relative [spouse, minor child or parent of a U.S. citizen], this is not a problem because a visa is immediately available.  However, if you are subject to a quota, there may be a long waiting period for a visa to become available. This is true of some employment categories as well. Refer to the priority date of your approved petition and check the visa priority dates before assuming a visa is available.

(2) The alien must be IN STATUS. That means the alien must be present in the U.S. on a valid non-expired non-immigrant visa. There are two basic exceptions to this requirement if you entered the U.S. legally and married a U.S. citizen, or if you are eligible to adjust under 245(i). 

(3) The alien must have been inspected and admitted or paroled into the U.S. An I-94 entry document is required to prove this entry/inspection.  This requirement does not apply for individuals who qualify under section 245(i). Please review the information below as to who qualifies under this section of immigration.

(4) The alien must be admissible as an Immigrant.  

It is important to note that some immigrants will only be granted conditional residency good for two years based on the satisfaction of certain conditions after which full lawful permanent residency can be granted. Back to Top

Section 245(i) allowed individuals who could not qualify for adjustment of status based on failing to meet the requirement of having been admitted or paroled to apply for this benefit by paying a penalty fee of $1,000.00 to CIS. This section, however, expired on September 30, 1997. Congress later passed a grandfather provision contained in H.R. 2267 which kept the provision alive until April 30, 2001.  

Section 245(i) privileges can be applied to those individuals and their derivatives who are the beneficiaries of immigrant visa petitions filed before or on April 30, 2001; and/or those individuals and their derivatives who are beneficiaries of labor certification applications filed with the Department of Labor as of April 30, 2001.

Click here for a more detailed discussion on eligibility for lawful permanent residence. Back to Top

FORMS and DOCUMENTS needed for AOS
Again, it is impossible to address all of the specific forms that may be required by
a particular office because each district office and service center have their own agenda with particular requirements, and order of forms. However, the CIS is working hard to standardize this process and beginning in December, 2004, all filings will be done via mail to a central location.

The basic forms and documents needed are:

Forms  Fees

I-130 or I-140 Petition for Immigrant Visa


I-485 Application for Permanent Residence


I-765 Application for Employment


I-864 Affidavit of Support

No Fee

I-131 Application for Advance Parole


G-325 for alien

No Fee

G-325A if relative sponsor

No Fee

I-693 Medical Exam in sealed envelope

Varies on Doctor

NOTE: In addition to the fees for the forms, there is a $70 fee for fingerprinting also required.



2 Passport style photographs for each

I-94 showing valid entry

Birth Certificates

Passports with visa page

Marriage Certificates

Divorce Certificates

3 years of Income Tax returns with W-2's

Evidence of current income if sponsor

Certified copy of criminal convictions

Other documents dependent on special circumstances

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Up until now, an application for adjustment of status (Form I-485) by a foreign national not in removal proceedings is filed with the local district office having jurisdiction over the applicant's residence in the U.S. Applications for permanent residence which are based on an approved immigrant visa petition in an employment-based category are filed with the regional service center that adjudicated the petition or the service center with jurisdiction over the applicant's residence.

However, beginning in December, 2004 Phase One of a new procedure began for most eastern and southern states. Phase Two (Alaska, California, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, and Washington)  will begin in April, 2005 whereby all forms must be filed directly to:

US Citizenship and Immigration Services
P.O. Box 805887
Chicago, IL 60680-4120             

PROCESSING TIMES are not yet available, but the general rule at present is approximately one year to adjust once filed for relatives, and approximately three years through employment. Back to Top

The information contained herein is intended for general informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice. You must consult with an attorney to obtain specific, comprehensive legal advice. Also note that the INS fees are subject to change without notice. For current INS fee information contact the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service directly.