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EXPLAINER: Adjusting Status & Form I-485 (Green Card)



Adjusting status is the process of applying for a green card (lawful permanent residence) while you are already in the United States. If you are eligible to adjust status, you can use Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, to apply for a green card without having to leave the United States.

The process of adjusting status begins with the filing of Form I-485. This form must be filed with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with supporting documentation and the appropriate fees. Supporting documentation may include proof of your identity, proof of your eligibility for a green card, and evidence of your current immigration status.

Once your Form I-485 has been filed, USCIS will review your application and supporting documentation to determine whether you are eligible for a green card. If your application is approved, you will be granted a green card and will become a permanent resident of the United States. If your application is denied, you will receive a notice explaining the reasons for the denial and your options for appealing or re-filing the application.

There are several factors that can affect your eligibility to adjust status, including your current immigration status, your relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, and your criminal history. It is important to carefully review the requirements for adjusting status before applying, and to consult with an experienced immigration attorney if you have any questions or concerns. The reality is that an immigration attorney is not always necessary, especially if your case is straight forward. An immigration attorney will typically charge $100-$300 per hour or a flat rate of several thousand dollars. An experienced immigration form specialist can do the same work for half the price. You can then pay an attorney to sit in on your green card interview if you so choose.


Adjusting status can be a complex process, and it is important to be organized and prepared. By gathering all necessary documentation and working with an expert, you can help ensure that your application is successful and that you are able to achieve your goal of becoming a permanent resident of the United States.

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