Applying for a Green Card from Within the U.S. After an I-130 Approval

Stage 2 - Adjustment of Status

After completing Stage 1 of the green card process (either I-130 or I-130 Immediate Relative) successfully, the foreign national family member still needs to complete Stage 2 before they can receive their lawful permanent resident status (i.e. green card).  Immediate Relatives do not have to wait, and may have in fact filed Stage 1 and Stage 2 paperwork concurrently. 

However, those beneficiaries who are subject to family-based preference categories may be faced with priority date backlogs and must wait to proceed to Stage 2. 

If the foreign national is eligible to proceed to Stage 2 and is physically present in the U.S., the foreign national may be able to apply for a green card from within the U.S. by filing an application for Adjustment of Status under INA §245. If the foreign national is not physically present in the U.S., they may be able to apply for lawful permanent resident status through Stage 2 - Immigrant Visa Processing (IVP).

What is involved in applying for Adjustment of Status?

Applying for Adjustment of Status requires submitting a comprehensive package to USCIS emphasizing the applicant’s eligibility for adjustment of status. The main form is: Form I-485 – Application to Adjust Status. 

Additional forms to be submitted include the I-864, Affidavit of Support (applicable version) and the I-693, Medical Exam Results. Lastly, to establish or preserve employment eligibility and travel privileges, other forms to be submitted include the I-765, Application for Employment Eligibility and the I-131, Application for Advance Parole.

  • Once an application for adjustment of status has been filed, the applicant may not be able to depart the U.S. until advance parole is issued (in certain situations, if the applicant is an H or L nonimmigrant who is concurrently maintaining their nonimmigrant status, they may be able to depart the U.S. without facing adverse consequences). Should an applicant depart the U.S. while the application is pending, but before advance parole is issued, they may be considered to have abandoned their application to adjust status.

What form and supporting documents are necessary to apply for Adjustment of Status?

Form I-485 – Adjustment of Status

The I-485 is the form that the foreign national family member must file to apply for adjustment of status within the U.S. The I-485 form inquires about an individual’s status in the U.S., any prior immigration or criminal problems, and any other issues that may cause an individual to be inadmissible to the U.S. or be ineligible to adjust status within the U.S.

One of the fundamental requirements to be eligible to adjust status is that foreign national family member last entered the U.S. lawfully (i.e. after inspection by U.S. immigration officials). If the foreign national family member last entered the U.S. without adhering to the proper inspection procedures and/or failing to main their status, they will likely not be eligible to adjust status, but may be eligible for Immigrant Visa Processing (with or without a immigrant hardship waiver).

Additionally, the I-485 petition should be supported by:

  • Copy of I-130 Approval Notice, which grants the foreign national family member their relative status
  • Criminal History (if applicable)
    • If the foreign national has any previous criminal history, copies of disposition documents should be enclosed. It is also important to clearly establish why the criminal history does not make the foreign national family member ineligible to adjust status.
  • Form G-325A
    • Form G-325A is a comprehensive form which aims to provide basic biographic information on the Applicant. This Form asks for residential and employment history for the preceding five (5) years, information regarding current and previous spouses, information on parents, and other biographic information. This form is submitted in quadruplicate.
  • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support
    • There are different versions of the Affidavit of Support requirement, the use of each dependent upon the situation.
    • The I-864 is completed by the U.S. Citizen/LPR Petitioner. The purpose of the Affidavit of Support requirement is to demonstrate that the U.S. Citizen/LPR Petitioner will be able to provide sufficient financial support to avoid having the foreign national family member become a public charge.
    • Form I-864P (updated annually) provides the minimal income guidelines to satisfy the Affidavit of Support requirement. The applicable amount is dependent upon the U.S. Citizen/LPR Petitioner's household size (including the foreign national family member).
    • Form I-864 EZ
      • If the U.S. Citizen/LPR Petitioner has sufficient earned income (documented by W-2’s), then this version of the form should be utilized.
    • Form I-864
      • This form should be used if the U.S. Citizen/LPR Petitionerhas sufficient earned income (self-employment income, retirement benefits, VA benefits) or if the U.S. Citizen/LPR Petitioner has insufficient income and either has a joint sponsor or is relying upon a household member’s income. If using a joint sponsor, the joint sponsor must submit their own I-864 also.
    • Form I-864A
      • This form is used when the U.S. Citizen/LPR Petitioner has insufficient income and is relying upon a household member’s income to meet the total income requirements and is a contract between the U.S. Citizen/LPR Petitioner and the household member. In some cases, the foreign national’s income may be used to satisfy this requirement.
    • Form I-864W
      • There are limited circumstances in which a foreign national does not need to submit an Affidavit of Support, including situations in which the foreign national has already accrued 40 credits of work with the Social Security Administration. This form provides a summary of other situations in which the Affidavit of Support requirement is waived.
    • Using a Joint Sponsor
      • If using a joint sponsor, the joint sponsor must submit their own I-864 also. Additionally, they must also submit proof of their U.S. Lawful Permanent Resident or U.S. citizen status.
    • Each I-864 Sponsor must submit proof of income, usually by submitting:
      • Copy of most recently filed tax return, including W-2’s, Schedules, etc.; and
      • Copy of recent paystubs/earning statements (usually 2-3)
  • Form I-693, Medical Exam Results
    • The Form I-693 is used to determine whether the foreign national family member is inadmissible to the United States on medical grounds.
    • The medical examination must be completed by a USCIS approved civil surgeon. A list of USCIS approved civil surgeons can be found at www.uscis.gov.
    • After the medical examination is completed, the civil surgeon will provide the foreign national family member with a sealed envelope. The envelope must remain sealed when filed.

Form I-765 – Application for Employment Authorization

The I-765 can be filed concurrently with the adjustment of status paperwork to establish work employment eligibility while the adjustment of status paperwork is pending. Upon approval, the foreign national is issued an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which is valid for any position with any employer, including for self-employment purposes. In most cases, the EAD is issued within 60-90 days after filing.


Form I-131 – Application for Advance Parole

The I-131 can also be filed concurrently with the adjustment of status paperwork to allow for international travel privileges while the adjustment of status application is pending. Upon approval, the foreign national is issued an Advance Parole Document, which is valid for multiple entries returning to the U.S. In most cases, the Advance Parole Document is issued within 60-90 days after filing.

Caution: If the foreign national has any unlawful presence issues or concerns, travel outside of the U.S. is ill-advised even if you have an approved Advance Parole Document. If the foreign national is unsure whether they have any unlawful presence issues, they should thoroughly discuss the matter with an immigration attorney. Please note that a failure to maintain status or being out of status is not the same as unlawful presence.

What to expect after filing the application packet?

Receipt Notices
After all of the paperwork is filed, the foreign national will receive Receipt Notices within 2-3 week of filing for each application filed (I-485, I-765 and/or I-131). The Receipt Notices will assign the foreign national an Alien # (if they do not have one already). The Receipt Notices are also important for following up with USCIS in the future on these matters and checking the case status online.

Biometrics Notice
Approximately 2-3 weeks after the Receipt Notices are generated, USCIS will schedule the foreign national for a Biometrics Appointment at a local USCIS Field Office or an Application Support Center. At that appointment, the foreign national will have their picture and fingerprints taken so that the necessary security background checks can be completed.

Request for Evidence
If USCIS determines that the information/documentation submitted is inadequate to satisfy the applications requirements and further information is needed, they will issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). The Request for Evidence will specifically state the documents/information they are seeking and a timeline under which they need to be submitted (all requested information should be submitted at the same time). Failing to respond to the RFE may result in the denial of the application(s).

Interview Notice
Approximately 2-3 weeks after the Biometrics Appointment, USCIS will likely schedule an interview on the pending adjustment of status application. The interview notice will list documents that need to be brought to the interview and may require that both the foreign national and the U.S. Citizen/LPR Petitioner attend the interview.

EAD/Advance Parole Documents
EAD and Advance Parole Documents are usually issued within 60-90 days after filing.

Conditional Lawful Permanent Residency v. Lawful Permanent Residency

If the case is approved, the foreign national will receive lawful permanent residency and receive a “green card” valid for a period of ten years (or for two years, if they are the beneficiary of a marriage-based immigrant petition and then the marriage is less than two years old at the time the foreign national is approved for lawful permanent resident status).  In the future, the foreign national can apply for naturalization to become a U.S. citizen if they meet certain requirements. See Naturalization.