If you are currently present in the United States and wish to become a permanent resident, you must undergo an immigration process known as adjustment of status. Adjustment of status is a complex process that could take anywhere from a few months to several years, depending on your basis for adjustment. Adjustment of status will be particularly difficult and uncertain if you are not legally present in the United States. Here is an overview of the process.
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Things You'll Need
Birth Certificate, Passport, 2 Photos, Proof of Family or Employment Relationship
Determine the basis of your application. The most common bases are (i) an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and (ii) employment, usually in a professional position that requires a graduate level education such as an M.S. or Ph.D. The quickest way to have your application approved is for a U.S. citizen spouse to apply on your behalf.
Find someone to petition on your behalf. If you are applying based on a family relationship, your relative will have to petition for you using USCIS Form I-130. If your application is based on employment, your employer will have to petition on your behalf using USCIS Form I-140. Download the required initial application documents from the USCIS website (see Resources below), and have your sponsor complete your petition.
Complete Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence of Adjust Status. Form I-485 will also require you to assemble certain documents such as your birth certificate, proof of family relationship, photographs and other documents.
Obtain police reports from every place that you have resided since your 16th birthday. Even if you have never been arrested, the USCIS will still require police certificates confirming this.
Undergo a medical examination at a USCIS-approved medical clinic using Form I-693. The examining doctor will place this form inside a sealed envelope (which you should not open) for inclusion in your application packet.
If your adjustment of status is based on a family relationship, the sponsoring family member should complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, on your behalf. By executing this form, your sponsor is providing a financial guarantee of your support in the event that you become destitute in the United States. Your sponsor's income and/or assets must equal or exceed 125% of the federal poverty line to qualify. In some cases you may choose a sponsor other than your petitioning relative. If your immigration is based on employment, you probably will not need an Affidavit of Support.
Send the entire application packet to the USCIS office with jurisdiction over your place of residence (there is at least one USCIS office in every state).
Tips & Warnings
If you have been in legal status since entering the United States and it is not necessary for you to remain in the country at present, you may want to consider applying for permanent residence from abroad (at a U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country) because processing times are usually faster.
If you have been unlawfully present in the United States for more than 180 days, attempt to adjust your status rather than go abroad for your application at a U.S. embassy or consulate, because once you leave the United States you will be subject to a three-year bar from reentering the country. Longer bars apply the longer you are unlawfully present in the United States.Tags: United States, your application, present United, present United States, your behalf, family relationship