Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing?
Before you keep reading about the AOS process, let’s discuss consular processing first. If you’re applying for a green card outside of the US, you’ll need to use consular processing, not the AOS route. Through this process, the green card application is reviewed by the closest US consulate or embassy near you. While the application is under review, you can’t enter the US until it’s approved.
The timelines, forms, and fees for consular processing are different from the AOS requirements. If you think you may need this process but aren’t sure, contact a skilled legal immigration attorney like Visa2US.
Yes, Adjustment of Status It Is!
Your H-1B visa permits you to apply for a green card, but just like with the initial visa process, you’ll need your employer to sponsor your petition by filing Form I-140. (Note: Family green cards file the I-130 form, and humanitarian applications need the I-730 form.)
After your sponsor files the petition, USCIS will decide whether or not to grant it. This can take months or longer. Your unique situation and background, plus the backlog at the USCIS service center when you apply, will determine the wait time.
Should all go well, your petition will be granted, but you’re not a permanent resident quite yet. There are limited green cards available for each category, so until one becomes available in the employment-based permanent residence status, you can still live in the US, but you don’t have a green card yet.
Waiting for a Green Card
How long you can expect to wait for your green card depends on a few factors besides the employment-based preference category. For example, if you’re an immediate family member of a US citizen, you may not have to wait at all. You can switch your petition to a family-based category instead of employment-based (and you don’t need an employer to sponsor you).
Another factor that determines wait time is your country of origin. Each country has different rules and limits. You’ll be provided a date when your application is approved, and you can follow your country’s progress in the visa line on the Visa Bulletin each month.
When a visa becomes available, file Form I-485, along with a request for work permits and travel permission (advance parole) documents. These will allow you to work and travel without restrictions while you are waiting for your completed Adjustment of Status application.
Moving Forward After the I-485 Submission
When USCIS receives your I-485 form, they’ll send you a date, time, and place to attend a biometrics appointment, which is a screening for fingerprint and an eye scan. You may also be called to attend an in-person interview, although this isn’t required for everyone.
At the interview, you’ll be asked — under oath — questions about the information you entered on your application. The USCIS officer may need more evidence to process your case, and they’ll mail you this request formally. After receiving this information, they may move forward with your application or request a follow-up interview.
The decision to grant or deny your application is typically provided within 90 days after the final interview. You can follow the progress online by logging into your case status portal.
When you have questions about obtaining or keeping your H-1B visa, our skilled professionals at Visa2US are here to help. The immigration process can be challenging, and you want to abide by all the terms and regulations that come with your visa. Contact our experts before you make any major changes or invest in filing an H-1B petition. We’re available 24/7 to answer your questions and guide your journey to the US.