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Adjustment of Status through Marriage

Adjustment of Status (green card) through Marriage

Foreign spouses of US Citizens and US Permanent Residents can receive green cards if they meet certain criteria and submit the required petitions and applications. This blog will focus on green cards through marriage to a US Citizen.

If you are married to a US Citizen and you were inspected by CBP upon your entry into the United States, you may be eligible to adjust status/ obtain a green card (permanent resident status) based on your marriage. However, it is important to understand that marriage alone without filing the required petitions, applications, and supporting evidence does NOT automatically turn you into a permanent resident. In order to obtain immigration benefits such as employment authorization card, advance parole, or ultimately a green card, you and your spouse must file the following applications/petitions:

I -130 - Petition for Alien Relative

G-325 A – Biographic Information for both the petitioner (the US citizen) and the beneficiary (the immigrant)

I-485 – Application for Adjustment of Status

I-864 – Affidavit of Support

I-693 – Medical Examination (the form is filled out by a physician)

G-325A – Biographic Information for the Applicant

I-765 – Application for Employment authorization – this application is not mandatory but if you would like to work while your Adjustment of Status Application is pending, you should apply for work authorization. If you file I-765 based on your I-485 and it is your first I-765 application, there is no fee

I-131 – Application for Advance Parole – this application is not mandatory but if you would like to travel while your Adjustment of Status Application and you are otherwise eligible to obtain an Advance Parole document, you should file I-131. If you are filing I-131 based on your I-485, there is no fee for I-131.

In addition to the above-referenced petitions and applications, you must file the required supporting evidence. For more information on documents to submit, please check the instructions posted on Please note that this is the process for foreign spouses who are already in the United States and were inspected by CBP upon their entry.

Once you file the above-referenced applications, you will receive Receipt Notices with your priority dates. Keep these receipts for your record. The applicant will receive an appointment for fingerprints (biometrics). The applicant should receive a work authorization card within 90 days of submitting his or her application for adjustment of status. If the applicant does not receive his/her work authorization, she/he should schedule an infopass appointment to inquire as to the status of her Employment Authorization application.

All applicants for adjustment of status through marriage to a US Citizens are scheduled for an interview at the local USCIS office. During the interview, a USCIS officer or adjudicator will ask questions in order to determine whether the marriage was entered into good faith and whether the applicant is otherwise "admissible." In the event that the applicant has any criminal record or arrests (even if they were already expunged), he/she should bring the disposition records for each arrest, conviction or dismissal.

If the officer is satisfied that the parties entered into a bona fides marriage and the applicant is otherwise "admissible," the officer will approve the I-130 petition and the I-485 application. She/he may tell the parties at the time of the interview that their petition and application are approved or reserve her decision. If your application is approved, you are likely to receive your Welcome to the United States notice and green card within 2 weeks of your interview.

The officer may request additional evidence. If this happens, make sure you understand what documents you need to submit and what is the deadline for submitting these documents. It is extremely important to comply with the officer's request for more evidence. Gather the requested documents, make copies and submit them as soon as possible.

The officer may tell you that she needs to further review your file before she makes a decision. If this happens, do not panic. It does not always mean your application will be denied. In most cases, if an officer is not persuaded that the parties entered into the marriage in good faith, she/he will schedule a second interview. This interview is often referred to as a "stokes" interview.

If you receive a notice for a "stokes" interview, you should consult an immigration lawyer immediately (if you don't have one already). If you need more information regarding what happens during a 'stokes" interview, please see my blog "stokes interviews."

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