Adjustment of status through marriage (I-485)
Are you qualified to adjust status?Sometimes people assume that just because their spouse is a citizen, they qualify for adjustment of status through marriage. This misconception could be very dangerous.
First you need to make sure that you have an i-94, or a document indicating LAWFUL entry into the United States. If you jumped the border, you will generally not qualify to file for an adjustment of status. Some exceptions exist, but those exceptions relate to people who have had a prior application filed on their behalf, prior to April 30, 2001.
Visa Waiver entrances can often qualify to adjust status, but it will depend on the jurisdiction.
Do you have an intent issue?Each and every immigration benefit for US immigration carries with it a very specific intent requirement.
Did you enter on a student visa? Student visas carry a "non-immigrant intent" requirement. Non-immigrant intent means that you intend to return to your home country. If you enter as a student and immediately seek to adjust status to a green card holder, or a legal permanent resident, your intent requirement for the student visa is contradicted by your later action to apply for permanent residency in the United States.
While you are permitted to have changed intent, you are not permitted to have fraudulent intent at the time of procuring any immigration benefit.
Are you unsure about your taxes?All immigration agencies care about how you are filing your taxes. Taxes are important. If you are unsure, do not go ahead and file. Have someone take a look at all your documents so that you can make modifications to your taxes if needed.
Do you have a "complex" relationship history?Adjustment of status through marriage means that all your relationships will be scrutinized, including every prior marriage, divorce, children, etc. If you have certain 'red flags' about your present relationship, then your scrutiny may be heightened.
For example, pay attention to whether you have a large age or experience gap from your spouse, whether you have language barriers, or cultural or religious differences that need to be explained. While differences are common, they could heighten relationship scrutiny.
Your prior immigration history will be examinedKeep in mind that immigration history does not disappear-it keeps on building. This means that if you or your spouse have had previous petitions filed, they could be re-examined. If you have obtained your citizenship based on a prior marriage and are now petitioning a new spouse, both of your marriages and all the petitions can be questioned.
Have you misrepresented or committed fraud?Misrepresentation can come up in a "simple" adjustment of status application based on violation of intent. However, if you have actually entered on a false visa, or passport, or have falsified information on any of your previous applications, you will likely need a misrepresentation or fraud waiver I-601. This is a serious matter, and not one you can afford to handle without a highly qualified attorney.