Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status

Immigration Services | Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status
Immigration Services

Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status

Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status (USCIS Form I-485) allows a foreign national to remain in the United States and obtain a green card after marrying a United States Citizen, or in some cases, a green cardholder. The difference in this route from marriage-based consular processing is that the foreign spouse would apply and wait for her green card in the United States and have her interview at a USCIS office instead of a U.S. Embassy overseas.

For this process to be an option, the foreign spouse must be in the United States already on a visa – for example, a tourist visa or a student visa. After being present in the United States, if the U.S. Citizen and the foreign national get married, the foreign spouse can petition to adjust their status to a permanent resident.

The Adjustment of status after obtaining a Fiance Visa is slightly different in that some of the forms described below are not required. Similarly, if the foreign spouse first arrived as a fiance on a fiance visa, Adjustment of status would be the second step after that fiance married the U.S. Citizen spouse. For more details, read our fiance visa page.

What is generally needed for a Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status?

The requirements:
• The foreign national must have entered the United States with a Valid Visa. For example, a student visa or a tourist visa, and in some cases, even an ESTA visa waiver.
• The foreign national cannot be in the U.S. on a crewman visa – D-1, D-2, or C-1 visas.
• It is recommended that at least 90 days have passed since the foreign national entered the United States before making arrangements to marry or adjust status to avoid any preconceived intent issues regarding the initial entry on a non-immigrant visa.
• The foreign national must marry or be married to a U.S. Citizen. If the U.S. spouse is a green card holder, there may be timing and other visa issues that are not a consideration when the U.S. person is a U.S. Citizen.
• The U.S. Citizen petitioner must financially sponsor the foreign applicant or obtain a co-sponsor.
• The foreign national must be a person of good moral character – meaning that they do not have a significant criminal history.

What Documents Do I Need for a Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status?
  • Birth Certificates of:
    • U.S. Citizen (Include Certificate of Naturalization or Proof of U.S. Citizenship if born outside of USA)
    • Immigrant Spouse
  • Copy of passports/visas of Immigrant Spouse
  • Marriage License
  • Prior Marriage Licenses and Divorces of:
    • U.S. Citizen
    • Immigrant Spouse
  • Any records of prior criminal arrests.
    • U.S. Citizen
    • Immigrant Spouse
  • Past 3 Tax Returns and W2’s or 1099s of U.S. Citizen ( Of Co-Sponsor if one)
  • Pay Stubs from current Employment of U.S. Citizen ( Of Co-Sponsor if one)
  • 2 Passport Style Photos of Each person.
  • Photos of Couples together – i.e., trips, meetings, etc.
  • Affidavits of relationship and/ or documents showing relationship:
    • Birth certificates of marital children, deeds, mortgages, checking accounts, utility bills, insurances, wills, trusts, medical records, junk mail with both spouses’ names.
  • Immigration Medical Examination – Form I -693
If, at the time of your application filing, the Public Charge rule is in effect, the following additional items may be required
  • Credit Report from
    • If no credit report/credit score is available, provide a screenshot or document showing none is available.
  • Copies of Diplomas / Transcripts showing education level attained.
  • Copy of Health Insurance if obtained.
  • Statements of Any Significant Assets (Checking account/ Savings Account, Stocks, Property Deeds, etc. )
  • Statements of Any Significant Debt (Mortgages, car loans, etc.)
  • All documents submitted must be in English.

An experienced affordable Chicago Illinois adjustment of a status immigration lawyer can assist you in determining which documents are specifically needed for your case.

How Much Does a Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status Application Cost?

Fees as of October 2nd, 2020:

  • USCIS Petition for Alien Relative: $560.00
  • USCIS Adjustment of Status Fee: $1,130.00
  • USCIS Biometrics fee: $30.00
  • USCIS Employment Authorization fee: $550 (Optional)
  • USCIS Application for Travel Document fee: $590 (Optional)
  • (Please note that the costs change periodically and are at times subject to litigation and may change overnight. Check with your immigration lawyer for the most up-to-date prices.)
  • Immigrant Physical – Generally between $250.00 – $350.00 – but varies depending on service providers and vaccination requirements.

Call and ask about our affordable low flat legal fees and to speak to a Chicago Illinois Immigration lawyer.

What is the typical timeline for Adjustment of Status Based on Marriage?

(Please note this timeline may vary due to Covid-19 or other backlogs)

Obtain Documents and Prepare the I-485 Application

During this time, you will gather the required evidence and work with your attorney to prepare the Adjustment of Status application for filing with USCIS.

Week 1

Receive Receipt

A few weeks after the application is filed, you will receive a written receipt indicating the Adjustment of Status Application is being processed.

Week 2-4

Biometrics Appointment

Generally, 1-2 months after filing the Adjustment of Status Application, USCIS will request that the foreign spouse appears for a biometrics appointment. This is where USCIS will take fingerprints and pictures of the applicant.

Month 1-2

Approval of Work Permit and Travel Permit, also known as EAD Combo Card

The goal of USCIS is to issue a work and travel permit within 90 days of applying; however, due to backlogs and delays, the time frame can take as long as seven months or longer.

Month 3-7

Interview Stage

At the end of the processing stage, generally after about a year, the case is sent to the local office closest to the applicant for an in-person interview. Both the U.S. Citizen and Foreign Spouse must attend. During the consultation, USCIS will assess the veracity of the marriage and the eligibility of the foreign spouse to adjust status.

Month 7-12

Green Card Issuance

Usually, 2 -3 weeks after the Adjustment of a Status interview, the applicant can expect an approval letter followed by the issuance of a green card. If the marriage is less than two years old, the green card will be a two-year Conditional Green Card.

1-12 Weeks After Interview

How can I prepare for the actual Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status Interview? What questions can I expect?
Your Adjustment of Status Southern California Immigration Lawyer will prepare you for the specific topics to be discussed at your interview, but in general, you should keep the following in mind:

  • Dress Professionally
    • Suit and tie for men if possible, or at least a button-down shirt and slacks.
    • Professional dress or suit for women.
    • No flip flops or jeans
  • Arrive at your USCIS local office early. The time on your interview letter is the actual interview time; please allow at least 30-60 minutes to get through security and check-in.
  • When you arrive at the local USCIS field office, present your appointment letter and your valid I.D. (passport, DL or EAD Card.) Once you get through security, there is usually another reception desk where you check in and are typically assigned a number.
  • At some point, you will be called by name or number and will be taken to your interview location.
  • When you are in the office with the interviewer, be polite and do not sit until asked to.
  • The officer will ask you for your appointment letter and your passport.
  • You will then be asked to raise your right hand and to swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.
  • The questions that the officers ask may not always be the same and may not necessarily be in the following order, but usually, they are as follows:
  • Most officers begin by reviewing the I-130 form. They will ask for your name, address, date of birth, etc., and everything on the form. Please review the form and familiarize yourself with the questions. If there are incorrect or misspelled answers on the record, the officer will correct them. This is normal and part of the process.
  • The officer may ask your spouse for the information on the form relating to you and vice versa. For example, they may ask your spouse for your Date of Birth or Place of Birth.
  • If you do not understand a question, tell the officer, they will rephrase it.
  • At any point, the officer may ask to see documents about the petition, so be ready to present them.
  • After the officer reviews the form, they usually start asking questions about your relationship with your spouse. Below are some typical types of questions requested. Please note that each interview is different, so the questions you receive may not be the same:
    • How did you meet each other?
    • How long did you date before you became a couple?
    • When did you decide to get married?
    • Why did you get married?
    • Was there a proposal? Who proposed?
    • Where was the wedding?
    • Who was at the wedding?
    • What does your family think of your spouse?
    • If there are significant differences in Age, Race, or Religion, the officer may ask questions to address those topics.
  • At this point in the interview, the officer may ask to see evidence of your relationship – sometimes called the bonafide. This is when you show your joint documents and pictures. Examples of joint documents include birth certificates of marital children, joint house deeds, mortgages, car loans, insurances, bank accounts, and utility bills.
What if we are split apart during our I 485 Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status Interview?

Sometimes, couples are separated during the interview process. The most common reasons for this are:

    1. Lack of bonafide evidence – not enough joint documents
    2. Suspicious case – i.e., someone called in and said your case was fraudulent, you do not live together, multiple red flags, etc.
    3. I was randomly selected for a more thorough, separate interview.

If you are split during the interview, usually, one spouse is asked to go back to the lobby while the other stays behind and is questioned. The officer will typically ask the spouse in the interview room about ten or so questions, many times along the lines of:

    1. Where did you meet?
    2. Where was your wedding?
    3. How many people were at your wedding?
    4. Did you have a reception?
    5. Where was the reception?
    6. At your home, do you have a refrigerator? Does it have an ice maker?
    7. What color is the comforter in your primary bedroom?
    8. Do you have any pets? What kind?
    9. What did you guys eat for dinner last night?
    10. How did you spend the last weekend?

Once the officer asks the first spouse these questions, he will call the other spouse back in, ask the same questions, and compare the answers. The answers may not be 100% exact but should be close. The questions you need to prepare for or study; will not be trick questions. They are questions that an average couple should answer about themselves without preparation.

  • When the Adjustment of Status interview is over, the officer may ask for additional details or evidence to complete the petition. This is relatively common and nothing to worry about. Speak to Chicago Illinois Immigration Attorney Toma Makedonski about any other requests or concerns. The case usually gets approved shortly after we address their demands. If the officer has no requests, they will typically send out a decision letter in a few weeks.
Additional Interview Tips
  • When answering, answer out loud, yes or no. “Ahem” or shaking the head is not acceptable.
  • Be organized. The more you are organized, the easier the interview will be.
  • Do not joke with the officers.
  • Be polite.
  • If the officer is rude, be patient. If it becomes excessive, you may ask for a supervisor, but this is not common.
  • Do not bring electronics, weapons, or sharp objects.
What do I have to bring to my I-485 Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status Interview?
Always be sure to speak to your Adjustment of Status Lawyer about what to bring to the interview, but in general, the following items should be collected and brought to the USCIS Office:

Bring Originals of:

  • Interview Notice
  • Updated Medical Exam if the Old One Expired
  • Updated Tax Returns and W2’s or 1099s ( Of Co-Sponsor if one)
  • Latest paystubs ( Of Co-Sponsor if one)
  • Passport ( current and old passports used to enter the USA) of Foreign Applicant
  • Government ID of U.S. Citizen (Driver’s License, Passport, etc.)
  • Government ID (Driver’s License) of Foreign Applicant
  • Employment Authorization Card / Travel Permit
  • I 94
  • If the applicant is an F1 Student, bring I-20’s and School Transcripts.
  • Birth Certificates of:
    • U.S. Citizen
    • Immigrant Spouse
  • Marriage License
  • Prior Marriage Licenses and Divorces of:
    • U.S. Citizen
    • Immigrant Spouse
  • BONA FIDES: Bring Originals and Copies for USCIS to keep:
    • Joint Documents showing relationship:
    • Birth Certificates of any biological children of the marriage
    • Checking accounts, medical records, school records, utility bills, insurances, wills, trusts, junk mail with both names.
    • Or Affidavits of relationship.
    • Photos of Couples together – i.e., trips, weddings, etc.
    • Some officers like to see the past 12 months of joint checking/savings accounts – so try to bring those if possible.

More questions? Get Your Free Initial Consultation

Attorney Toma Makedonski offers a low-cost, flat fee in most cases, so you, as the client, know what your cost will be upfront. Toma Makedonski is a Chicago Illinois Immigration lawyer with upfront, low-cost, flat fees on most immigration cases.

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