Adjustment of Status through marriage is an important avenue for individuals seeking lawful permanent residency in the United States. This article will walk you through the process, eligibility criteria, common challenges, and the importance of maintaining legal status. Understanding the intricacies helps you navigate through the adjustment successfully and increase your chances of obtaining a Green Card.
What Adjustment Of Status Through Marriage Is
Adjustment of Status is a process whereby a non-immigrant in the United States can apply for a Green Card. One advantage of this process is that they do not need to return to their origin country for Visa processing. This allows them to complete the process while maintaining their non-immigrant status. However, only individuals who meet specific requirements are eligible to apply.
Eligibility Criteria For Application
Certain eligibility criteria must typically be fulfilled to pursue the Adjustment of Status. Below is a closer look at each requirement:
- Valid Marriage. The couple must have a legally recognized marriage. This includes both opposite-sex and same-sex marriages. Proof of a valid marriage, such as a marriage certificate, is typically required during application.
- U.S. Citizenship or Permanent Residence. The petitioner, the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident spouse, must establish their status. A U.S. citizen petitioner can provide proof of citizenship through a birth certificate, passport, or naturalization certificate. In the case of a permanent resident petitioner, proof of lawful permanent residence, such as a Green Card, is required.
- Entry with Inspection. The foreign spouse must have entered the United States legally, usually through authorized means. These include a valid non-immigrant Visa or other proper documentation. This requirement ensures the individual has undergone the necessary immigration procedures upon entry.
Eligibility for application may vary on specific circumstances, such as prior immigration violations or criminal history. Consulting with an experienced immigration attorney is necessary. They can provide personalized guidance and help navigate any complexities or exceptions that may arise during the process. Couples can obtain lawful permanent residence in the United States by meeting these eligibility requirements.
Why go through all this trouble? That’s easy. Status adjustment to become a lawful permanent resident brings certain benefits. It will also pave the way for obtaining U.S. citizenship through naturalization.
Benefits Of Adjustment Of Status
Adjusting status via marriage offers numerous benefits for foreign spouses seeking to establish lawful permanent residence in the United States. Here are some key advantages.
Legal Residence & Work Authorization
Upon approval of the Adjustment of Status application, the foreign spouse will receive a Green Card. It grants them lawful permanent residence. This status allows them to live and work in the United States indefinitely, providing numerous opportunities for employment and career growth.
Keeps Families Intact
The process allows families to remain together in the United States. It enables spouses to build their lives together, raise children, and create a sense of stability and security within the family unit.
Access To Social Benefits
As a lawful permanent resident, the foreign spouse becomes eligible for certain social benefits, such as healthcare coverage through government programs. They may also qualify for in-state tuition rates for higher education, providing better personal and professional development opportunities.
With a Green Card, the foreign spouse can travel internationally and reenter the United States without the need for additional Visas or entry permits. This freedom to travel facilitates visits to home countries, reunions with family and friends, and exploration of new destinations.
Path To U.S. Citizenship
Lawful permanent residents are generally eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship after meeting specific residency requirements. The foreign spouse takes a step toward becoming a U.S. citizen by obtaining a Green Card through the process. This comes with the potential to enjoy all the rights and privileges that come with it.
Every applicant’s situation is unique, and the benefits may vary depending on personal circumstances. Consulting with an immigration attorney can help clarify the specific advantages and implications of adjusting status through marriage for each couple.
Step-By-Step Process For Status Adjustment Of Foreign Spouse
Adjusting status via marriage involves several important steps that couples need to follow. Here is a detailed breakdown of the process.
Filing Petition For Alien Relative
The U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse must initiate the process by filing Form I-130. This form establishes the marital relationship between the petitioner and the foreign spouse. It should be accompanied by supporting documents, such as marriage certificates and evidence of a bona fide marriage.
Filing Form I-485
Once the USCIS approves the petition, the foreign spouse can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence. This is the official application for adjusting status to become a lawful permanent resident. Along with the completed form, the foreign spouse must submit supporting documents, including biographical information, photographs, and required fees.
Biometrics Appointment & Background Checks
After submitting Form I-485, both spouses will receive a notice for a biometrics appointment. Fingerprints, photographs, and signature samples will be taken to conduct background checks at the appointment. These checks aim to verify the identities and backgrounds of the individuals involved in the application process.
Interview With USCIS
Following the biometrics appointment, USCIS will schedule an interview for the couple. The interview is a crucial step to evaluate the authenticity of the marriage and ensure compliance with immigration laws.
During the interview, both spouses may be questioned separately or together about their relationship, living arrangements, and other relevant details. Applicants must prepare by reviewing the application and gathering supporting documents to establish the bona fide nature of the marriage.
USCIS Decision & Green Card Issuance
After the interview, USCIS will review the application, supporting documents, and the results of the background checks. If the agency is satisfied with the evidence and determines the marriage is genuine, they will approve the application.
Upon approval, the foreign spouse will receive their Green Card, officially granting them lawful permanent residence in the United States.
Processing time for this adjustment may vary, and additional steps or requirements may apply based on individual circumstances.
Consulting with experienced immigration lawyers can provide personalized guidance and ensure a smoother and more successful amendment. Following this step-by-step process, couples can navigate the Adjustment of Status procedure and secure a future together in the United States.
Common Issues & Challenges
While adjusting status via marriage is a milestone for couples seeking lawful permanent residence in the United States, the process is challenging. Understanding and being prepared for these potential issues can help couples navigate the application process more effectively. Here are common issues and challenges that couples may encounter.
One of the primary challenges couples face is gathering and submitting the required documentation to support their application. This includes providing evidence of a bona fide marriage, such as joint financial accounts, shared leases or mortgages, and photographs. Insufficient or inadequate documentation can delay the process or even result in denial.
Filling out the necessary forms accurately and completely is crucial. Mistakes or omissions on the forms can result in delays or denials. It is essential to review all forms carefully. It is advisable to seek assistance from an immigration attorney to ensure the application is properly completed.
Consistency in providing information throughout the application is essential. Inconsistencies in statements made by the couple during the interview or in their documents can raise doubts about their marriage’s legitimacy. They may lead to further scrutiny or denial.
Couples who are not fluent in English may face challenges understanding the application forms or communicating effectively with USCIS officers. It is advisable to seek translation services or have an interpreter present during the interview to ensure clear and accurate communication.
The processing time for applications can vary. Delays in processing can cause anxiety and uncertainty for couples. Staying informed about the current processing times and maintaining open communication with USCIS can help manage expectations and address concerns.
If the foreign spouse has a history of immigration violations, criminal records, or other grounds of inadmissibility, it can complicate the process. In such cases, hiring a lawyer is crucial to assess the potential impact of these issues and explore possible waivers or remedies.
Each couple’s circumstances are unique, and their challenges may vary. Seeking the advice of experienced lawyers can provide personalized guidance and assistance in navigating these potential obstacles. This will increase the likelihood of a successful status adjustment.
Conditional Permanent Residence
After approval of the adjustment status, petitioners may receive conditional permanent residence status. This kind of status is granted for two years instead of the usual permanent residency. This condition ensures the marriage is bona fide and not entered solely for immigration purposes.
The couple must jointly file a petition to remove the conditions on residence 90 days before its expiry. This petition, known as Form I-751, should provide evidence of the ongoing marital relationship and demonstrate that the marriage is genuine.
If the petition is not filed, the foreign spouse may lose their immigration status and face potential removal from the United States. Upon approval of the petition to remove conditions, the conditional permanent resident will receive a new Green Card.
This card will grant them permanent residence without conditions for ten years. This allows the couple to continue their lives together in the United States without the restrictions associated with conditional status.
Maintenance Of Legal Status During The Adjustment Process
While the application is pending, it is crucial to maintain valid nonimmigrant status to ensure a lawful presence in the United States. Falling out of status may have severe consequences on the application.
If the Visa is expiring or no longer suitable, applicants may explore options for extending or changing their status. This may include filing a timely extension or applying for a different reason to stay in the country. Violating immigration laws, such as overstaying a Visa, can have serious consequences and may negatively impact the applications.
Adjustment of Status via marriage offers a pathway for non-U.S. spouses to obtain permanent residency in the United States. A foreign spouse can navigate this process and achieve lawful permanent residence by meeting the eligibility requirements and following the necessary steps. While the process may have its challenges, seeking guidance from an experienced immigration lawyer can provide invaluable support throughout the journey.