Family-Based Adjustment of Status: A Short Guide

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Adjustment of Status Under Immigration Law

US immigration law allows individuals to change their immigration status from non-immigrant (temporary) to immigrant (permanent). 

To achieve this transition, they need to meet the stipulated requirements to obtain a green card, which would grant them lawful permanent residence in the country, according to the Immigration and Nationality Act. This conversion process is what is referred to as ‘Adjustment of Status.’ 

The implication of this process for non-immigrants is that they do not have to return to their native country to apply for a green card as long as they’ve entered the US legally. Even if their temporary visa expires before they receive their adjustment of status application approval, they are usually allowed to remain in the US until they receive a decision from the immigration authorities.

It is an excellent opportunity for students, workers, and non-immigrant visa holders who are already legally in the US to live and work here permanently.

If you’re in the US on a non-immigrant visa and have a close family member who is a US citizen or has a green card, you may be able to adjust your status and apply for a green card.

Family-Based Adjustment of Status 

Family-based adjustment of status means transitioning from a non-immigrant visa to permanent residency with the help of a family member or immediate relative.

For example, If you’re a foreign national who came to the US on a student visa, and then you fell in love and married an American citizen, you can apply for adjustment of status, with your spouse as your sponsor, subject to the fulfillment of other immigration conditions. The benefit of this procedure is that there’s a bit more certainty of a positive outcome if you do things right. To be safe, you might want to consult an experienced immigration attorney before you begin the process.


Eligibility for Family-Based Adjustment of Status

Before you proceed to adjust your immigration status on the basis of a family relationship, you need to be sure that you’re eligible for a family-sponsored green card. This means that you need to fall within one of the approved green card eligibility categories depending on whether your sponsor is a citizen or lawful permanent resident.

Generally, immediate family members of citizens and green card holders, such as spouses, parents, children under 21 years old, and in some cases, siblings, can benefit from this procedure.

Foreign nationals engaged to marry US citizens who entered the US via a K-1 or K-3 visa can also adjust their status after their marriage.


Petition for Family Adjustment of Status: How to Apply

The family-based Adjustment of Status procedure usually begins by filing immigration Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This form is completed and filed by the sponsor on behalf of the intended immigrant.

Once the petition is approved, the applicant can proceed to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form is usually submitted after the USCIS approves Form I-130, but in some cases, concurrent filing may be allowed.

Generally, you’re not supposed to file Form I-485 until you confirm visa availability for your category. However, this doesn’t apply to immediate relatives of US citizens.

Once the USCIS receives the family-based Adjustment of Status application from you, you’ll be required to participate in a biometric screening. You may also be invited for an interview or asked to provide additional documents if necessary.

The USCIS will notify you of their decision in writing, and if it is approved, you’ll receive your green card after a while.

If your application is denied, you’ll also receive a notice stating the reason for the denial and whether or not you can appeal the decision.

Denial means that the applicant may need to leave the US voluntarily or undergo deportation proceedings. You might need to contact a top-rated immigration attorney in Atlanta at this point to either assist in your immigration appeal or file a motion for reopening or reconsideration of the decision. If your appeal or motion succeeds, you’ll likely be allowed to remain in the US.

How Long Does Family-Based Adjustment of Status Take?

The time frame for Adjustment of Status varies and could take months.

This is because you have to factor in the processing time for each application stage, which only the USCIS can determine.

Nevertheless, you can estimate how long the process could take by submitting your details at the USCIS processing times portal. The good part is you get to remain in the US legally until you receive a decision, so try not to worry too much about the duration.


How an Immigration Attorney Can Help You

Many people may find it challenging to understand the process of converting their non-immigrant visa into a family-based green card. The multiple forms and paperwork required could easily throw one off balance and leave room for error.

But with the USCIS, you’ll want to avoid any errors in your application by any means necessary, as such errors could prove to be very costly.

So, to improve your chances, it might be better to seek professional help from an experienced immigration attorney. Immigration attorneys understand the law and are familiar with the relevant immigration processes. With their knowledge, they can help you correctly prepare your application for adjustment and represent you throughout the process.

If you are in the Atlanta area and need an immigration attorney, Manji Law, P.C. is here to help. Our Atlanta DACA attorneys can answer your questions about the family-based adjustment of status process and work to make your application as smooth as possible.

So, if you wish to bring a spouse to the USA or you need to get immigration help in Atlanta, contact us today to schedule a free consultation and get the assistance you need.


315 W. Ponce de Leon Ave, Suite 400, Decatur, GA 30030

5745 Lawrenceville Hwy Tucker, GA 30084

368 W Pike St, Suite 203, Lawrenceville, GA 30046

Manji Law, P.C. 

Email: [email protected]
Phone: 678.902.2999
Fax: 404.410.4922