Adjustment of status ("AOS") is a
process that allows an eligible applicant to become a lawful permanent resident
of the United States without having to go abroad and apply for an immigrant
visa. The alternative to AOS is Consular Processing, where an individual applies
for an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate. You should carefully
review both options before deciding which one to pursue.
Basic Overview of Permanent Residency Process
Becoming a lawful permanent
resident of the United States is a multi-step process. In most cases, the US
Citizenship and Immigration Services must first approve an immigrant petition
for you, usually filed by an employer or a family member. Then, an immigrant
visa number must be available to you, even if you are already in the United
States. You can determine whether an immigrant visa number is available on the
After that, if you are already in
the United States, you may apply to adjust to permanent resident status
or choose consular processing of an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or
consulate abroad. 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
Eligibility for Adjustment of Status
To be eligible to file Adjustment
of Status, you must meet certain criteria. All other persons generally must do
consular processing abroad.
- You must be physically
present in the United States.
- If filing for permanent
residency based on family and you are not an immediate relative, your
immigrant petition must be approved first. For most employment-based
petitions (EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3) and immediate relatives, you may be eligible
to file to adjust your status at the same time as you file your immigrant
petition. For information on filing the I-140 immigrant petition at the
same time as the I-485, see our frequently asked questions about
- An immigrant visa number
must be immediately available. Other than immediate relatives, family-based
and employment-based green card applicants are subject to numerical quotas
for immigrant visas. To determine whether an immigrant visa number is
available, please check the State Department’s
- You must not have entered
the United States illegally. You must have been inspected and admitted into
the United States. The USCIS considers that you have been "inspected" when
you present yourself to an immigration officer at a U.S. port of entry. You
are admitted when an officer informs you that you are allowed to enter the
United States. As a rule, your I-94 and/or the stamp in your passport is an
indication that you have been admitted. If you have not been admitted and
inspected and you meet certain criteria, you may be eligible to adjust your
status under Section 245(i) by paying an additional $1,000 fee.
Ineligibility for Adjustment of Status
You may be ineligible for
adjustment to permanent resident status if:
- You entered the U.S. while
you were in transit to another country without obtaining a visa;
- You entered the U.S. while
you were a nonimmigrant crewman with a D visa;
- You are employed in the
United States without USCIS authorization, unless you are the immediate
relative of a U.S. citizen (parent, spouse, or unmarried child under 21
years old) or you are an employee of an international organization meeting
- You are a
J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor
subject to the two-year foreign residence requirement,
and you have not met or been granted a waiver for this requirement;
- You have an A (diplomatic
status), E (treaty trader or investor), or G (representative to
international organization) nonimmigrant status, unless you waive diplomatic
rights, privileges and immunities are submit USCIS Form I-566 (for those in
A or G nonimmigrant status);
- You were admitted into the
United States as a visitor under the Visa Waiver Program, unless you are an
immediate relative of a U.S. citizen;
- You are already a
conditional permanent resident.
- You were admitted as a K-1
fiancé but did not marry the U.S. citizen who filed the petition for you.
Or, you were admitted as the K-2 child of a fiancé and your parent did not
marry the U.S. citizen who filed the petition for you.
Adjustment of status is
discretionary. Even if you are eligible for adjustment and do not fall within
one of the statutory bars, the USCIS may still deny an application for
adjustment of status. Generally, adjustment of status will be granted if you
are eligible under the statute and there are no "negative factors." A negative
factor may include your intent to remain in the U.S. when you entered as a
nonimmigrant, even if you did not commit fraud or willful misrepresentation.
When such negative factors exist, the USCIS will weigh the negative and
positive factors to determine whether to approve your adjustment application.
Close family relatives, immediate relatives, may be a strong factor favoring
An application to adjust status
should include the following forms and supporting documents:
- Form I-485 Application to
Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Supplement A to Form I-485
is required if filing under 245(i).
- Form G-325A Biographic Data
Sheet, if you are between the ages of 14 and 79.
- Form I-693 Medical
Examination Sheet must be completed by a physician approved by the USCIS.
This examination is not required if you are applying based on continuous
residence since before 1972, or if you have had a medical exam based on a
- Two color photos taken
within 30 days.
- Form I-864 Affidavit of
Support, completed by the sponsor. This requirement may not apply to you if
you are adjusting to permanent resident status based on an employment
- Form I-765 Authorization
for Employment, if you are seeking employment authorization for yourself or
your dependents while your application is processed.
- Evidence of inspection,
admission or parole into the United States, such as a copy of your Form
I-94, Arrival Departure Record.
- If you have already been
approved for an immigrant petition, you must submit a copy of the approval
notice sent to you by the USCIS.
- If you were admitted into
the United States as a fiancé of a U.S. citizen and married that citizen
within the required 90 days, you must submit a copy of the fiancé petition
approval notice and a copy of your marriage certificate.
- If you are an asylee or
refugee, you must submit a copy of the letter or Form I-94
(Arrival-Departure Record) that shows the date you were granted asylum or
refuge in the United States. You also must submit USCIS Form I-643 (Health
and Human Services Statistical Data).
Applicants for adjustment to
permanent resident status are eligible to apply for a work permit while their
cases are pending. The spouse or children of the principal applicant may be
eligible for work authorization. Once your application to adjust status is
approved and you obtain permanent resident status, you will receive a permanent
resident card that will prove that you have a right to live and work in the
United States permanently.
If you are applying for
adjustment to permanent resident status, you must receive permission in advance
to return to the United States in order to travel outside the United States.
This advance permission is called Advance Parole. If you do not obtain Advance
Parole before you leave the country, you will abandon
your application with USCIS and you may not be permitted to return to the United
You can check the status of your
application online at the
USCIS Case Status website. You will need your case number,
listed on your receipt notice.