A marriage-based adjustment of status is a direct way to access a permanent residence and eventually to citizenship.
If you are a foreign-born spouse of a United States citizen and currently live in the United States, you may be eligible for lawful permanent residence–popularly known as the “green card.” The green card enables the holder to permanently live and work in the U.S., provided that you don’t commit any actions that would make you inadmissible or removable under immigration law.
To obtain the green card, you must apply for it through a process called “Adjustment of Status.” Here are answers to the most frequently asked questions about the marriage-based Adjustment of Status process.
Who is eligible to apply for a marriage-based Adjustment of Status?
You are eligible to apply for a marriage-based Adjustment of Status if your marriage meets two conditions. Your marriage must be legally valid in the country or region where it took place, and legal under U.S. federal law. You must also be able to show that your marriage is based on a genuine, good-faith relationship that was not entered into solely to obtain a green card.
How do I apply for the green card?
The U.S. citizen spouse starts the Adjustment of Status process by submitting a Form I-130 to the United States Citizenship Immigration Service (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign-born spouse. After the USCIS approves the I-130, the foreign spouse must file a Form I-485 (Application to Adjust Status) along with all supporting documents with USCIS. Such supporting documents include a birth certificate, proof of nationality, and proof of lawful entry to the U.S. You may be able to file the two forms at the same time, but not always.
How long will it take to receive a green-card interview?
Once you have filed the application forms and the USCIS deems them complete, the agency will schedule you for an interview. Depending on where you live, it could take anywhere from 6 to 30 months.
What should I expect from the green card interview?
The green card interview will take place at a USCIS field office. The purpose of the interview is to detect fraud in your application and assess whether your marriage is authentic. The USCIS officer conducting the interview will ask you numerous questions about your application, marital life, and personal questions about your spouse. Sample questions may include:
- When, where, and how did you meet?
- Who proposed to whom and where?
- When and where did you meet your in-laws?
- What kinds of activities do you do as a couple?
- Who takes care of the family finances?
- Who usually wakes up first at home?
- What is your spouse’s favorite meal or restaurant?
- What is your spouse’s monthly salary?
- How long has your spouse driven their current car?
- Do you have mutual friends?
It is best to be honest during the interview. If you forget the name of the school your spouse attended or their salary, just admit that you have forgotten. The officers typically know when someone is lying, so there is no need to raise suspicions needlessly. It is a good idea to prepare for the interview in advance.
What happens after the interview?
If the officer believes that the marriage is bona fide, they will approve the foreign-born spouse for a green card. Sometimes, they will decide immediately after the interview; other times, you may need to wait several weeks for a decision. Occasionally, the officer may send a Request for Additional Evidence (RFE), which will make the waiting time even longer.
What happens after I am approved for the green card?
You will receive your green card in the mail, usually 3 to 6 weeks after the interview.
What happens if I am denied the green card?
If you are denied a green card, you might be subject to deportation proceedings. You should consult with an immigration lawyer as soon as possible to determine why you were denied, and whether it will be possible to adjust your status, when, and how.
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