This guide will provide the basics in filing for adjustment of status if you are married to a U.S. citizen. Different field offices will require minor variations of this basic package.
Step One: Make sure you qualify
The first requirement would be to make sure you qualify. You must have entered in a lawful status, tourist, student, etc..., in order to qualify for adjustment of status unless you fall under a 245(i) exception which we will not discuss here. If you entered in lawful status, then you can be out of status at the time you file your adjustment package based on marriage to a U.S. citizen. Please note that a J-1 with a two year foreign residence requirement cannot adjust (unless they seek a waiver) or in some cases fiance K-1 visa who did not marry the person that had petitioned for her.
Step two: Make sure you dont have crirmes that make you inadmissible
Many clients think that pleading guilty and paying all their fines will make the crime go away. This is not true. Anytime you plea to a crime it will stay on your record for immigration purposes. For an adjustment of status, you cannot have crimes that make you inadmissible. Such crimes are crimes of moral turpitude such as theft, drug charges, crimes of violence, domestic assault, etc. Aggravated felonies and other crimes can also make you inadmissible. If you pled to a crime in the past, then you need to talk to an immigration attorney before filing for adjustment of status.
Step three: Finding a sponsor
Your petitioner has to make enough money in order to be your sponsor. This means that the petitioner has to make 120% of the poverty guidelines. These guidelines are listed on form I-864P. If your spouse, the petitioner, doesn't make enough money to meet or pass the guidelines, then you will need to find a joint sponsor who meets the poverty guidelines and who is able to provide their private information and tax return in order to prepare and fill out an I-864 affidavit of support. This form is a big burden on low income families. Your joint sponsor has to be a permanent resident or a U.S. citizen.
Step four: Preparing the package
The adjustment of status package generally consists of an I-130, I-485, I-765, I-864, G-325a and medical exam. Prepare these documents truthfully and thoroughly. Do not leave blank. If it doesn't apply, then mark the question N/A. The supporting documentation is usually a marriage certificate and both birth certificates plus any divorce orders or decrees, the supporting paperwork for the I-864, and the evidence that the person entered lawfully into the United States.
Step five: Finalizing the package
Attach the filing fees, check or money order, to the package along with two passport photos of the petitioner and two passport photos of the beneficiary. If you want to make the package a little more approvable from the beginning, then attach also copies of birth certificates of any child born to the marriage and also evidence of joint life between the petitioner and beneficiary such as joint bank statement, joint lease, joint credit card, insurance, etc... Mail the package to the address listed on the instruction sheet for the I-485. Good Luck!
Additional resources provided by the author
For additional information you can go to the uscis.gov website and access the form section to download the forms and instructions.
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