This guide will provide a brief overview of the most common type of application that most immigration attorneys handle, an application seeking adjustment of status based on marriage to a citizen of the United States. The information provided below is intended as a guide only and it is intended to cover situations where there is a marriage between a citizen of the United States (USC) and a foreign national who arrived in the US legally.
If the spouse with immigration status is not a USC or if the foreign national spouse did not enter the US lawfully, the case may be more complicated than the description provided below. And as with any other legal guide that we publish, do not let this anonymous recitation of practice and procedure substitute for a personal consultation with a knowledgeable and competent immigration attorney.
Unfortunately, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not do anywhere near a decent job of explaining this process to those who do not have familiarity with immigration paperwork. And if you do find the right applications and try to read them together and in conjunction with each other, none the explanations will make sense. Despite this process being as common as it is, USCIS appears to be just fine with applicants being completely lost on how to get started and on exactly what to do and where to file to make this process work correctly.
The forms that you would be looking to complete are the following :
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative - this is the application that says that you are a USC and that you married for the right reasons. Moreover, this is an application for an immigrant visa that would permit your spouse to reside with you in the US
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status - this is the application that your spouse would file to indicate that she is a foreign national who has an immigrant visa petition available to her and that she would like to become a resident alien in the US. This application is most interested in whether there is anything in your spouse's background (i.e. criminal activity, prior immigration problems, immigration fraud) that may prevent her from being considered as a resident in the US.
Form G-325 - this is a Biographical Information form which both you and your spouse would be required to submit. This form provides certain basic background information about the both of you.
Form I-864, Affidavit of Support - this is an affidavit that you compete to establish that you (and/or other co-sponsors if required) have the financial means necessary and available to ensure that your spouse will not need the resources of the federal, state or local governments to provide for her financial well being in the US.
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization - to obtain a work permit while the application for adjustment of status is pending.