Adjustment of status is the last step in the green card or (LPR) process (that of becoming a legal permanent resident). You, the foreign national have to file an I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status, most likely based on a pre-existing and approved or approvable Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) or Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative). I-485 applications and I-130 or I-140 petitions can be filed concurrently depending on the immediate availability of an immigrant visa number. You are required to file the adjustment of status application along with an I-693 Medical Examination of Alien issued by a licensed Civil Surgeon and also a G-325A, Biographic Information form. These serve as documents to a complete medical and immunological history as well as a record of your places of employment and residence during the past five years.
The USCIS will schedule a date for you to have your fingerprints, picture and signature recorded for their FBI background check and entry in the USCIS records. Normally, an interview with a USCIS official is required in a majority of cases.
You are allowed to work and travel with a pending adjustment of status application. The application will be considered abandoned if you do not attend a biometrics appointment or interview. Applications may also be rejected if
– The underlying immigrant petition is denied/withdrawn
– You are found to have entered or resided in the US illegally (this may be waived if you originally entered with a valid visa and are an immediate relative of the US citizen-petitioner)
– You are judged as undesirable on the grounds of previous criminal convictions, affiliation with unsuitable political parties/organizations (former members of the Communist Party) and poor character or have weakening health problems, as well as other inadmissible grounds.
Once your Form I-485 is approved, a permanent residency card (green card) valid for ten years will be issued to you. After five years, you will be eligible to apply for naturalization. If you are an LPR who got your green card through marriage, you will be eligible to apply for naturalization after only three years if you are still living with the same spouse who originally filed the petition for you.
If you are a green card holder, you have certain restrictions on your rights. If you marry a foreign born spouse, you may have to remain separated for years from your spouse or family while the paper work needed to get immigration authorization wades through the system. As mentioned earlier, permanent resident cards come with a validity of ten years and you have to renew it on its expiration. You have to file Form I-90, Application to replace green card to get your green card replaced.
Persons who have held asylee or refugee status for one year or more will also qualify to file the application to adjust status to a permanent resident.
However, note that if you are outside the US, you are not eligible to file an application to adjust status to Permanent Resident. Eligible applicants outside the US may get a green card by applying for an Immigrant Visa at a US consulate abroad.