The immigration process to the US differs depending on your current place of stay. If you are outside the US, you have to go through consular processing at the embassy in your country. If you are already in the US and eligible to apply for a green card (through sponsorship by an employer or family member or based on holding asylee or refugee status), you can file an Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident through Form I 485.
If you are in the US and have an approved immigrant petition, you will be eligible to file an application to adjust status to a permanent resident (green card holder) of the US. In a layman’s words, adjustment of status is the process by which a foreign national applies for a green card while being in the US. It is important that you have a “current” priority date in order to qualify, unless you are applying in a category for which visa numbers are always available. Priority date is the date you filed the immigrant petition. If you are applying based on being married to a US citizen spouse, the parent or child may qualify to file the application to adjust status to a permanent resident at the same time your immigrant petition is submitted.
Are you an individual who held asylee or refugee status for one year or more? If so, you may also be eligible to file to adjust status to a permanent resident. However, if you are outside the US, you cannot file to adjust status. Under such circumstances, you can apply for an immigrant visa at a US consulate in your country. Cuban nationals requesting a change in the date their permanent residence began in the US may also file Form I-485.
Form I 485 Process
You really need to know the ropes when it comes to filing immigration petitions/applications as it might be sophisticated at times. You have to file Form I 485 with the needed supporting documents and fees with the local USCIS office. If you are 79 years of age or older or under 14 years, you will not be charged a biometric fee. If you are filing this form based on being admitted to the US as a refugee, then you need not pay any fee.
Once you have submitted your application with the required supporting documents and fee, the USCIS will start the processing. After processing, if your application is approved, you have to make an appointment to get your passport stamped through INFOPASS. You can use this stamp as temporary proof that you are a permanent resident until your physical card (the green card) arrives. You can use this to travel outside of the US.
If your application is rejected, USCIS will send you a letter that will have the details as to why the application was denied. If you are not in a legal status in the US, the process to remove you from the country will begin as soon as your application is denied.
In such a case, you can have an immigration judge review the denial of your Form I-485 during removal proceedings. During this review, immigration officials have to prove that the information on your application was untruthful and that your application was rightly denied. Even after this, if the judge decides to remove you from the country, you can still appeal this decision. You can appeal within 33 days after the immigration judge passed the judgment. The appeal will then be referred to the Board of Immigration Appeals once your appeal form and the required fees are processed.