Family-Based Adjustment of Status: Navigating the  Path to Permanent Residence


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Explore the family-based adjustment of status process with The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A. Learn about eligibility, application steps, and how we can help.

Understanding Family-Based Adjustment of Status

Have you ever envisioned a future for yourself and your family rooted in the opportunities only the United States can offer?

As a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, you can help certain close family members obtain green cards and enjoy all the associated benefits of green card holder status. However, each eligible family member must go through the formal green card application process and prove that they meet the immigration law requirements before they can receive green cards.

Usually, family-based green card applications are processed by the U.S. embassy or consulate in the applicant’s country of residence. But what if the applicant (the person seeking a green card) has already entered the U.S., perhaps on a non-immigrant visa or through other lawful means? Would they need to return to their home country to begin the green card application process? Thankfully, the answer is no.

Eligible family-based green card applicants who are already in the U.S. can transition from their current immigration status into lawful permanent residents without having to travel back to their home country. This transition process is formally called adjustment of status, and it is an essential pathway for individuals and families to achieve permanent residence without separating from their loved ones in the U.S.

Family-based adjustment of status requires the significant involvement of both the applicant and the sponsoring family member. So, whether you are the sponsor or applicant, it is important for you to understand how the process works. 

At The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A., we understand what the outcome of the family-based adjustment of the status process means to you and your loved ones. We stand ready to empower applicants and their families with the legal knowledge and experience necessary to demystify the process and increase their chances of a positive outcome.

In this guide, we discuss the fundamentals of family-based adjustment of status to help you stay informed and prepare for the journey ahead. 

Eligibility Criteria for Adjustment of Status

A foreign national seeking adjustment of status must meet certain basic requirements, including the following:

  • They must be physically present in the U.S. during the application process.
  • Their entry or admission into the U.S. must have been lawful.
  • They must formally apply for adjustment of status. 
  • They must be eligible for an immigrant visa
  • An immigrant visa must be available in their green card category

If an applicant fails to meet these requirements, it does not mean that they cannot obtain a green card at all.  However, depending on the circumstances, they might need to leave the U.S. and complete the application process from their home country.

Additionally, there are legal exemptions that could offer relief to applicants who do not meet certain requirements. It would be wise for applicants (or their sponsors) with concerns about their eligibility to consult an immigration lawyer who can evaluate their case, determine their qualification for an exemption, and help them understand their options if they are found ineligible.

The Family-Based Adjustment of Status Application Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

The steps in the family-based adjustment of status process can be summarized as follows:

Filing Form I-485

Form I-485, officially known as the Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust status, represents the formal adjustment of status application. This form is processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and its primary purpose is for applicants to demonstrate that they meet the legal requirements for adjustment of status and qualify for a green card. 

Completing and filing this form accurately is paramount; otherwise, the application could be rejected.

Form I-485 Prerequisites 

Usually, Form I-485 cannot be filed unless 

  • An immigrant visa is immediately available in the applicant’s green card category
  • An immigrant petition (Form I-130) ( filed by the sponsor) has been approved on the applicant’s behalf.

However, in a few limited instances, it is possible to file forms I-485 and I-130 at the same time. This joint filing process, formally known as concurrent filing, can help shorten the duration of the adjustment of status process for those who qualify. 

Documentation and Evidence Required

The USCIS forms ( I-130 and I-485) must be accompanied and supported  by certain documents, including:

  • Government-issued personal identification documents (such as birth certificates and passports)
  • Proof of a qualifying family relationship between the applicant and the sponsor, such as marriage certificates for spouses and birth certificates or adoption documents for children.
  • Proof that the applicant entered the U.S. lawfully and that they have maintained lawful status since their arrival.
  • Proof of the sponsoring relative’s immigration status.

The specific documents required to succeed with the authorities vary with each case. Nevertheless, every document is a stepping stone towards securing the desired lawful permanent resident status, so you must do all you can to avoid documentation errors.

Missing or incorrect information could result in the application being denied. In less severe cases, such issues could trigger a request for evidence (RFE).

An RFE is the USCIS’ way of asking for additional documentation to process a case thoroughly. While RFEs do not equal denials, they could prolong the processing period and possibly trigger a denial if the USCIS’ queries are not adequately or promptly addressed.

RFEs can be avoided by ensuring that the USCIS has all it needs to process your application from the start. But if you’ve already received one as an applicant or a sponsor, it is important to provide a timely and adequate response to get the process back on track.

What Happens After Filing?

Once the USCIS receives the adjustment of status application, the sponsor’s participation reduces, and at that point, the focus is on the applicant alone.

The applicant will be issued a notice of receipt and scheduled for a biometric services appointment at an Application Support Center. There, their fingerprints, photographs, and signatures will be collected to enable the authorities to conduct the necessary background checks.

The applicant may also be scheduled for an interview, during which a USCIS officer will assess their eligibility for adjustment of status.

Attendance at all scheduled USCIS appointments is crucial to avoid jeopardizing the application.

The USCIS’ Decision

Once the USCIS has all the necessary information and documents, they will review and decide on the application.

If the application succeeds, the applicant will be notified, and they will receive their green card subsequently. If the application is denied, they will also be notified. The USCIS will explain the reason for the denial and explain whether they can appeal the decision.

However, adjustment of status decisions are generally unappealable, so in the event of such an undesirable outcome, the applicant might need to begin the process afresh depending on the reason for the denial. 

Filing a fresh application involves additional costs and fees. So, while it can be a source of hope to applicants dealing with denials, it is important that you do all you can to prevent such an outcome if you’re yet to begin the process, including getting help from an experienced immigration lawyer.

How The Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A. Can Help

At The Law  Law Office of Tatiane M. Silva, P.A., we understand that the path to permanent residence through adjustment of status can be complex. We are prepared to work with you and leverage our extensive immigration law experience to help you overcome the hurdles associated with the process and navigate it with ease.

Over the years, we’ve found that insufficient documentation, inadmissibility issues, or mistakes in the application documents are some of the major causes of adjustment of status processing delays or application denials. Our skilled immigration lawyer can help to 

  • Meticulously review or prepare your application and supporting documents to ensure completeness and accuracy, minimizing the risk of delays.
  • Address issues of inadmissibility that could render an applicant ineligible for adjustment of status and work toward obtaining immigration waivers where possible.

We understand the significance of the adjustment of status interview, and you can also count on us to help you prepare so you’ll know what to expect beforehand.

From the initial application to the final decision, we stand by our clients, offering committed and personalized support every step of the way. You can trust us to hold your hand during the family-based adjustment of status process and guide you through every hurdle to ensure you and your loved ones realize your dreams of a permanent stay in the U.S.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation. Together, let us take the next steps toward a secure future in the land of your dreams.


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