how long does adjustment of status take

How Long Does Adjustment of Status Take?

If you’ve applied for a green card inside the United States, I bet you’ve asked yourself “how long does adjustment of status take?”.

Human beings are very impatient. We all want things to happen quickly especially when it comes to US immigration.

Well, I’m going to answer that question for your today. 

Case Example:

Janet is a US citizen that met Robert who immigrated form Australia on a work visa. They quickly fell in love and began dating shortly there after.

After a year of dating, Robert proposes to Janet and she agreed to marry him. After the wedding, they begin the process of getting Robert a green card so he can stay in the US permanently.

What forms should they complete and submit to USCIS?

In the example above, Janet and Robert would need to submit the I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. In addition to the I-130 petition, they also submit form I-485 Application to Adjust Status.

Who Can Apply For For Adjustment of Status?

You are eligible for a green card if you fall under one of the below critters when applying to adjust status. Take a look at the list of below options to be eligible for adjustment of status:

  • Adjust status through marriage to US citizen.

    • This is probably the most common way to become a lawful permanent resident. Marrying an US citizen will automatically mean you are eligible to adjust status whether you are in the US on a tourist visa, work visa, or student visa. Even someone who enters the US illegally can adjust status after marrying an American as long as they file a waiver for any unlawful presence time.
  • Adjust status through your employer.

    • If your employer is willing to help you adjust status for a green card then this is another option for you. I will not go into detail about adjusting status through your employer. You can find more information about this on USCIS.gov.
  • Adjust status through VAWA self petition.

    • One interesting way to adjust status on your own is through VAWA self petition. Not everyone is able to go this route but for those of you who have been abused by your US citizen spouse and you have proof, this is a great option for you. It will not be easy but if you have enough evidence of the abuse, you can submit a strong case for adjustment of status.
  • Other ways to adjust status inside the US.

    • There are other ways you can adjust your status for a green card such as refugee, asylum and U visa applicants. Again, I will not go into detail about these options, please visit the USCIS.gov website for more info.

How Long Does Adjustment of Status Take For K1?

After you arrive in the US on a K1 fiancé visa, you are generally required to apply for adjustment of status after getting married within 90 days.

Did You Know? The K1 visa is a unique type of visa because it is considered a nonimmigrant visa but in fact you are supposed to adjust status after using it.

Interestingly enough, how long it takes to adjust status on a K1 visa is similar to anyone else filing to adjust status. You will not get faster processing simply because you are adjusting from a fiancé visa.

Expect to wait at least 6-12 months for the I-485 adjustment of status to complete processing.

Additionally, if you applied for the work permit or Employment Authorization Document, you will likely get this approved before your green card is issued.

Case Example:

Carson got engaged to his long distance girlfriend from the Philippines Kristi. They apply for the K1 visa and after 10 months it is approved and she flies to the US.

Carson and Kristi apply for adjustment of status a week after getting married at the courthouse. They made sure to include form I-765 so that she can get her EAD card and begin working right away.

Kristi will likely get her EAD card within 90 days of submitting the I-485. If she doesn’t receive her card within this timeframe it’s recommended she call USCIS customer service at 1 (800) 375-5283.

How Long Does Adjustment of Status Take After I-130?

If you are already inside the United States and marry a US citizen you will likely need to file the I-130 and I-485 concurrently. This means at the same time.

Remember, USCIS will first process the I-130 to be sure you are have a valid marriage to a US citizen before processing the I-485.

Time it takes to process I-130: 6-8 months.

Time it takes to process I-485: 4 to 6 months.

As you can see, this process can take a long time but if you’ve submitted a strong and organized case, you’ll zip right through without receiving the dreaded Request For Evidence.

Note: for those of you who have entered the US illegally or overstayed a visa, you will likely be required to complete a waiver I-601 or I-601A. To learn more about the waiver for unlawful presence, read this post.

After the I-130 petition is processed and approved, USCIS will send you a notice letting you know of the approval.

USCIS will begin processing the I-485 for your green card application. Additionally, you may have also submitted the I-765 for your EAD card which will be processed within 90 days.

Related Post: I-130 and How To Prove A Bona Fide Marriage 

How Long Does Adjustment of Status Take After VAWA?

If you are in the unfortunate situation of having to apply for VAWA, I’m sorry! No one deserves to mistreated by their spouse.

VAWA stands for “Violence Against Women Act” but in fact it also holds true for men so don’t let the term dissuade you.

In some cases, you will be able to self petition for a green card without your US citizen spouse. This is very helpful in situation where there is serious abuse and you don’t want your spouse (or ex-spouse) know your application status.

The process is a bit different when you are applying for VAWA.

For starters, there is no filing fee.

Additionally, the type of evidence is a bit stronger and you must show real evidence of abuse not just your side of the story. This can include police reports, medical records, photos and affidavits from professionals.

Winning a VAWA approval will not be easy and the whole process is made difficult because of how many people abuse it.

Case Example:

Maria came to the US on a K1 visa to marry her fiancé Albert. After arriving from Ghana to live with Albert, she soon realized how abuse he can be. On many occasions he has chocked and kicked her during an argument.

After she finds out that she is 3 months pregnant, Maria decides to leave Albert for good and seeks shelter at a local church. She then files for divorce and looks into applying for a green card through VAWA.

Is Maria eligible to adjust status through VAWA?

If you answered YES to the question above, you are correct!

Maria can file for VAWA using form I-360 and include form I-485 as well. As long as she can prove she married in good faith, suffered abuse by her husband and that he is a US citizen, she can self petition for a green card.

Related Post: How To File For VAWA For A Green Card.

Related Post: How To Put Together a Strong VAWA Case.

Can Adjustment of Status Be Denied?

Of course, we all want our adjustment of status applications to be approved (and quickly!) but sometimes this isn’t the case.

Being denied a green card can be devastating. Not only will you face possible deportation but it will be that much harder to apply for a green card in the future.

It’s best to avoid a green card denial and there are ways to do just that.

  • Submit a VERY strong adjustment of status application.
  • Include as much evidence of a good faith marriage.
  • Include the correct filing fee amount.
  • Sign all forms with your signature in black ink.
  • File for a waiver if you are required to do so.

What happens if you are denied adjustment of status?

Okay, so if your case is ultimately denied by USCIS you have a few options:

  1.  Reapply for adjustment of status with stronger evidence.
    • If you are denied adjustment of status, you can reapply if there was a technical error with your application that can be easily corrected. If you forgot to submit something that was important and caused the denial, you can fix this by submitting it with your next application. Remember, you will need to pay the filing fee again as the first payment you made is nonrefundable.
  2. Appeal the denial decision by USCIS.
    • There is also the option to appeal a denial but I’ll admit that this is difficult. Unless you have proof that the denial decision was in error, I wouldn’t waste time trying to appeal the decision. I find that it’s rare that USCIS will allow an appeal if there was a valid reason for denial. Plus, there is along processing delay for appeals so why waste more time?
  3. Leave the United States before being deported.
    • If you can’t appeal and won’t reapply the next best option is to leave the US. This will give you a clean slate so that you don’t overstay your valid status int he US. Leaving the US also ensures that you will be able to reenter in the future or apply for another visa.
  4. Face deportation proceedings.
    • If leaving the US is out of the question because you have family here, then you risk being picked up and deported. USCIS will notify ICE that you have been denied a green card and have no legal status now. This puts you on their radar to be picked up and deported back to your home country. Removal proceedings are not fun and you will always worry if today is the day you will be detained.
  5. Live in hiding from ICE.
    • There are thousands of immigrants that choose to stay in the US without legal status. Whether they simply entered the country illegally or overstayed a visa, they refuse to leave. Some have US born children that they don’t want to abandon while others simply want to continue working under the table to earn money. This is not the kind of life you want. Especially under the watchful eye of President Trump. If possible, leave the US and figure out how to apply to enter the country legally.

Related Post: Applying for Adjustment of Status with Very Little Evidence.

Conclusion: How Long Does Adjustment of Status Take?

To answer this question simply: it can take up to 12 months for adjustment for status to be approved.

There is no way to rush this process and its based on who applied ahead of you. There are thousands of applications submitted to USCIS (about 150,000 each year) and just over 10% are denied.

To avoid adjustment of status denial, be sure to submit a strong effective case with lots of evidence.

Simply being married to a US citizen isn’t enough. You must show that you are eligible for a green card and that you married in good faith for love and not just for immigration benefits.

Are you ready to apply for a green card? Take a look at our Online Immigration Courses.

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