Become a Lawful Permanent Resident

Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status

Overview

If you are a foreign national who is physically present in the United States, you may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residency without having to leave the United States. This process is known as adjustment of status or “green card” application. To apply, you will need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You must demonstrate that you meet the underlying category’s requirements for adjustment of status. Keep in mind that any immigration violations or criminal conduct on your record will reduce your chances of approval.

Benefits

Filing Categories

There are several categories of Form I-485, each with its own specific requirements. Our office only handles family-based and employment-based AOS cases. 

Family-Based Adjustment of Status

Family-based applications are for foreign nationals who are related to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents. There are several types of family-based visas, including:

  • The immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen: The immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen are spouses, unmarried children under the age of 21, and parents of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old. There is no limit to the number of immediate relatives who can be granted lawful permanent residency each year.  As an immediate relative, you may be eligible to file Form I-485 and adjust status if you:
  • Entered into the United States lawfully
  • Are physically present in the United States with a valid, unexpired visa (except spouses of U.S. citizens)
  • Have an immigrant petition (Form I-130) filed on your behalf with USCIS
  • An immigrant visa is immediately available for your category depending on the county of your citizenship
  • Are not otherwise inadmissible to the United States
  • Other relatives of a U.S. citizen or relatives of a lawful permanent resident (the family-preference categories): The family-preference categories are for foreign nationals who are related to U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents but do not qualify as immediate relatives.  There is an annual limit on the number of visas that can be issued in each family-preference category.  As a result, there may be a waiting period before a visa becomes available.  The family-preference categories are:  
  • Unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (First preference)
  • Spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents (Second preference)
  • Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens (Third preference)
  • Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens (Fourth preference)
  • Fiancé(e) or child of the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizenIf you were admitted to the United States as a fiancé(e) or child of the fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible to file Form I-485 and adjust your status. You must have a valid, unexpired immigration status and be admissible to the United States. As part of your Form I-485 application, you must also show that: 
  • Your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) filed Form I-129F on your behalf
  • You entered the United States within 90 days of the Form I-129F approval date
  • You and your U.S. citizen fiancé(e) married each other within 90 days of your entry into the United States
  • You are still admissible to the United States

If you have a child who entered the United States on a K-2 visa, you must include your child in your Form I-485 application.

  • Widow or widower of a U.S. citizen: If you are the widow or widower of a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible to file Form I-485 and adjust your status. You must have a valid visa and be admissible to the United States. As part of your Form I-485 application, you must also show that: 
  • Your spouse died within the 2 years prior to your Form I-485 filing
  • You were married to your spouse for at least 2 years before his or her death
  • You have not remarried since your spouse’s death
  • You entered the United States with a valid visa
  • You are not inadmissible to the United States
  • VAWA self-petitioner: If you are a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking and meet the requirements, you may be eligible to file Form I-485 as a self-petitioner. You must have a valid visa and be admissible to the United States. As part of your Form I-485 application, you must also show that: 
  • You are the child, spouse, or parent of a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident
  • You have been a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking by your U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, parent, son, or daughter
  • You are not inadmissible to the United States

If you believe you may be eligible for an adjustment of status, we encourage you to contact our office to speak with one of our experienced immigration attorneys. Our attorneys can review your case and help determine if you are eligible. The application process can be complex, so it is important to speak with an immigration attorney to determine your eligibility and understand the requirements.

Employment-Based Adjustment of Status

Employment-based applications are for foreign nationals who have a valid job offer from a U.S. employer or who intend to work in the same profession that was the basis of their original admission. There are five employment-based categories, including;

  • EB-1 Priority Workers
  • EB-2 Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Persons with Exceptional Ability
  • EB-3 Professional or Skilled Workers
  • EB-4 Special Immigrants
  • EB-5 Immigrant Investors
  • EB-1 Priority Workers: There are three types of EB-1 priority workers:
  • E1: Eligible for first preference as a worker with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, who have obtained sustained national or international acclaim that can be demonstrated through extensive documentation. Such individuals should intend to continue to work in the same field of expertise, and their admission as permanent residents should substantially benefit the US.
  • E2: Eligible for first preference as an outstanding professor or researcher you must be internationally recognized in particular academic areas and possess at least 3 years of academic research or teaching experience. They must have tenured or tenure-track position at universities or institutes of higher education, or in comparable research positions in institutions that employ at least three full-time researchers. Such institutions must also demonstrate documented accomplishments in the field.
  • E3: Eligible for first preference as a manager require individuals to be employed abroad in the same capacity during at least one of the three years preceding their applications for admission to the US as priority workers. Such individuals must enter the US to be employed as executives or managers for the same firm, corporation, or legal entity, or for a subsidiary or affiliate of the entity that employed them abroad.
  • EB-2 Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Persons with Exceptional Ability:  This category includes aliens who are “members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent” and aliens “who because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural, or educational interests or welfare of the United States.”

  • EB-3 Professional or Skilled Workers: The EB-3 is for professionals who hold a US baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent degree that is normally required for the profession. Education and experience may not be substituted for the degree.  The EB-3 is also for skilled workers and other workers who are not seasonal or temporary and require at least two years of experience or training as well as other workers are those who are capable of performing unskilled labor, not of a temporary or seasonal nature, for which qualified workers are not available in the US.

  • EB-4 Special Immigrants: This category is designated for special immigrants such as religious workers, certain long-time employees of the US government, citizens or Iraq or Afghanistan that have worked for the US Armed Forces as a translator for at least 1 year, some physicians who have residence in the US for a number of years, juvenile dependents of a court who are eligible for foster care, some dependents of diplomats, employees of the American Taiwan Institute for at least 15 years, persons who have served in active duty in the US armed services for 12 years or after 6 if they have reenlisted for 6 additional years, etc.

  • EB-5 Immigrant Investors: Permanent resident status based on EB-5 eligibility is available to investors, either alone or coming with their spouse and unmarried children. Eligible aliens are those who have invested — or are actively in the process of investing — the required amount of capital into a new commercial enterprise that they have established. They must further demonstrate that this investment will benefit the US economy and create the requisite number of full-time jobs for qualified persons within the US.

What is Section 245 (i) Adjustment of Status?

In general, the applicants for adjustment of status must show that they have entered the United States legally through inspection process. Section 245(i) of the LIFE Act allows certain persons, who have an immigrant visa immediately available but entered without inspection to apply for adjustment of status if they pay a $1,000 penalty.  To be eligible for 245(i) protection, you must:

  • Be the beneficiary of Form I-130, I-140, I-360 or I-526 filed on or before April 30, 2001, OR
  • Be the beneficiary of an application for labor certification filed with the Department of Labor on or before April 30, 2001, and
  • Also have been physically present in the United States on December 21, 2000 if the petition was filed after January 14, 1998.

Note that if you fall under the protection of section 245(i) but left the United States, you may have triggered the 3 or ten-year ban. Please discuss this this important issue with your attorney.

Process

We offer in-depth consultations to make sure of your eligibility. Having your petition prepared by a qualified immigration attorney can help prevent potentially devastating outcomes and reduce delays caused by improperly or incompletely prepared packages.

This will generally consist of the written material your case needs.  Each case is different and fact-sensitive.  We will help you prepare supporting letters and obtain legal documents if necessary. Our office will also provide you with the necessary templates and sample documents.

Once it has been determined that you meet the requirements, one of our attorneys will complete the necessary Forms (I-130, I-485, and I-864, I-765, and I-131). We will then assemble a robust and comprehensive application packet.

Our office will file the final packet with the appropriate USCIS office.  Our attorneys review your case multiple times to ensure the final application packet is strong and complete.  

Once received by USCIS, a receipt notice (Form I-797) will be sent to the parties involved.  Form I-797 verifies USCIS has received your forms and government filing fees.  At this point you can track the process of your case. 

At this appointment USCIS will take your fingerprints and run a security background check. 

After the initial review, USCIS officers may issue a request for additional evidence if your petition is missing certain documents or information.  Our office rarely receives a request for additional evidence as our attorneys always ensure to prepare and file a strong and complete petition. 

After the interview, USCIS will conduct a final review  and issue the decision notice.  After approval, the lawful permanent residency card (green card) is mailed to the applicant’s mailing address. 

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Immigration law is one of the most complex areas of law. Our experienced attorneys will ensure that your case is handled correctly. Anyone can fill out forms; very few are able to correctly analyze an immigration case. Mistakes can be very costly – you may lose time, money, and the opportunity to live securely with your family.

Our attorneys are completely dedicated to the field of immigration, and that has enabled us to become experts. In fact, we have a reputation for successfully handling very complex cases. We have been successful in thousands of cases and we know how to handle yours. 

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thank you so much Ali Hassanzadeh for all your help in my immigration case and helping me become an U.S citizen. Highly Recommended very knowledgeable, professional and friendly. Ali guided me through all my process from Political Asylum application to obtain a green card and until I got my U.S naturalization certificate he was always there, Ali was supportive and patient and answered all questions I had and gave great advice when I need it Ali went above and beyond! Thank you!
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Frequently Asked Questions
Adjustment of Status

I want to petition for multiple relatives. Do I file a separate petition for each relative?

Yes. File a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for each relative you want to sponsor.

Am I required to file an affidavit of support for each relative for whom I file a petition?

Yes. As the petitioner you are obligated to financially support your relative when he or she immigrates. An Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) is required for each relative. If you do not meet the income requirements, a co-sponsor will be necessary. Consult one of our attorneys of to determine if you meet the income requirements for the affidavit of support.

Besides petitioning for immediate relatives, who else can U.S. citizens petition for?

In addition to petitioning for immediate relatives, U.S. citizens may also petition for the following relatives:

  • Unmarried sons or daughters over the age of 21;
  • Married sons or daughters of any age; and
  • Brothers or sisters (if the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years old).

Unlike immediate relatives, however, these relatives are not given the same priority and must wait for a visa to become available. There is also a cap on the number of visas that may be granted for these relatives each year.

Rather, these relatives are given what is called preference. There are four family-based preference categories. Three of those preference categories are designed for relatives of U.S. Citizens. Meanwhile, one family preference category is reserved for immediate relatives and unmarried adult children of Legal Permanent Residents (LPRs). When a petition is filed for a non-immediate relative, that relative is assigned to his or her corresponding preference category. For example, petitions for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens are given first preference. Currently, there is a limit of 23, 400 visas per year available for relatives eligible under the first preference category. Petitions for married sons or daughters of U.S. citizens are given third preference. The number of visas that can be granted annually to relatives under the third preference category is also 23, 400. Finally, petitions for brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens are given the fourth preference. In order to petition for a sibling, the U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years of age. The number of visas available for siblings of U.S. citizens is capped at 65,000 per year.

These preference categories also allow the spouse and/or minor children of the main relative beneficiary to be included in the petition. Once the priority date has been reached, your relative’s immediate relatives may apply for their visas simultaneously. However, their inclusion is added toward the cap of visas granted for that year.

Because there are generally more applicants than visas available, an immigration wait is created. When a petition is filed for any of the family-based category preference relatives, the beneficiary is given what is called a priority date. The priority date is the date the petition was filed. Visas are then awarded chronologically according to the priority and when priority date is reached. The beneficiaries of family preference petitions could wait years for the priority date to be reached. For this reason, petitioners and beneficiaries must be aware of their priority date and review the monthly Visa Bulletin from the Department of State regularly to verify if a visa has become available.

The application process for other relatives is similar to that for Immediate Relatives. To begin the process, the petitioner first files a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative and the required documentation and fees with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. If the relative is present in the United States, he or she may be eligible for adjustment of status. If not eligible for adjustment of status, the relative will be referred to the appropriate consulate or embassy to complete processing of his or her application. For relatives outside the United States, their visa will be processed through the appropriate consulate or embassy. Once the visa is approved, the relative may travel to the U.S. and become admitted through a U.S. port of entry.

Am I required to file an affidavit of support for each relative for whom I file a petition?

Yes. As the petitioner you are obligated to financially support your relative when he or she immigrates. An Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) is required for each relative. If you do not meet the income requirements, a co-sponsor will be necessary. Consult one of our attorneys of to determine if you meet the income requirements for the affidavit of support.

My unmarried son or daughter is contemplating marriage. Will marriage affect his or her petition?

Yes. Marriage of son or daughter under the age 21 will affect their status as immediate relatives. If a son or daughter of U.S. citizen under age 21 marries, he or she will no longer be considered an immediate relative. Rather, the relative will be placed into the corresponding family-based preference category for married sons or daughters of U.S. citizens and become subject to an immigration wait.

Furthermore, marriage will also affect the preference category in which the beneficiary adult son or daughter is going to be placed. Unmarried adult children are given higher preference than married children. Visa availability and waiting periods may vary depending on the family preference category. Marriage will bump down your relative to a preference category three and cause further delays in a visa becoming available.

If your relative is unmarried and is contemplating marriage, then he or she may consider postponing marriage until after a visa has become available. Any change in marital status after the petition has been filed and prior to a visa becoming available must be reported to USCIS.

Who can be a Sponsor?

A USC or LPR can be the Sponsor of a family based immigration petition. However, the Sponsor has to meet income requirements and legal obligations. The Sponsor has to execute a legally binding affidavit of support for the Beneficiary, in which the Sponsor guarantees to maintain the standard of living of the intending immigrant at a level not lower than 125% of the national poverty level. This obligation continues until the Beneficiary has become a U.S. citizen or has worked in the United States for 40 qualifying quarters.

If I do not meet the poverty guidelines necessary to sponsor a family member, what can I do?

You can use a co-sponsor or provide evidence of assets that are readily available along with your household income.

Who can be a joint sponsor?

A co-sponsor must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident who is at least 18 years of age. They must also fulfill the domicile requirement (must reside in the U.S.), the affidavit requirement, and the income requirement.

How can I determine if my assets are sufficient to meet the financial support requirements?

The value of your assets less any offsetting liabilities must exceed by at least 5 times the poverty lines minus the sponsors household income. For example: John has an annual income of $5,000. If the federal poverty line for a 2 member household is $10,000, he must show that the value of his assets is not less than ($10,000 – $5,000) x 5 = $25,000.

What evidence of assets may I submit?

Evidence of assets includes almost all tangible or intangible properties. Usually, they are: bank statements covering the last 12 months, stocks, bonds, personal property, and real estate.

I have a child who is a U.S. citizen. Can my child file an immigration petition for me?

Until the U.S. citizen child reaches 21 years of age, he or she will be unable to sponsor their parent.

What is a Conditional Green Card?

A Conditional Green Card is issued to the Beneficiary if the beneficiary is the spouse of the U.S. citizen sponsor and the marriage occurred less than two years before the Beneficiary is admitted as a U.S. permanent resident. To remove the condition, both spouses need to jointly petition to remove the condition within 90 days before the second anniversary of the beneficiary’s admission as a permanent resident. Failure to do so will result in the termination of the Beneficiary’s conditional permanent residence.