Adjustment of Status Through Marriage: A Brief Guide

What is meant by an adjustment of status through marriage? The skilled professionals at the KC Immigration Lawyers answer this question and more. Contact us!

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Marriage-Based Green Cards

If you are a foreign national married to a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., you can apply for an adjustment of status. However, it is essential to note that you must be present in the U.S. through legal means to gain a lawful permanent resident status (alternatively known as a green card) via adjustment of status.

The whole process of getting a marriage-based green card can include adjustment of status through marriage. It involves legal complexities since you may have to deal with more than one government agency. This article will help you understand the various steps to get your green card through adjustment of status after marrying a U.S. citizen.

Who Can Apply for Adjustment of Status?

A foreign national spouse can apply for an adjustment of status to get a marriage-based green card. However, a few things play a critical role in gaining lawful permanent residence.

Firstly, your foreign spouse will have to pass a background check. If they have criminal activities on their record or a violation of immigration laws, obtaining approval would become increasingly challenging and, in some instances, impossible. Moreover, the purpose of marriage should not be only to adjust status.

For engaged couples, a K1 visa is issued to a fiancé or fiancée of a U.S. citizen who wants to enter the country. This should not be confused with a visa waiver program. Upon entering the U.S., a foreign national has to marry their U.S. citizen petitioner within 90 days. In such cases, it is advisable to get in touch with a K1 visa lawyer for assistance with the legal processes associated with obtaining a green card.

Spouse Eligibility Requirements

According to the law, a foreign citizen who marries a U.S. citizen becomes their “immediate relative,” making them eligible to apply for a green card. But they also need to meet specific additional requirements for the adjustment of status through marriage, as enumerated below:

  • The foreign citizen should be physically present in the U.S.

  • Legal means should be used to enter the U.S.

  • The foreign citizen should not have any criminal records.

Another significant factor that you need to consider while adjusting the status through marriage is that the couples need to prove that they are in a “bona fide marriage,” which means that their relationship is not for the primary reason of availing immigration benefits. This requires you to present various documents and paperwork throughout your adjustment of status application and interview process.

Moreover, you’ll have to pass through the questions that a United States Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) officer might raise when going through your immigration petition.

Marriage-Based Green Card

Getting a green card means filing various forms and other documents that the USCIS requires. It will verify your marriage and the eligibility of your foreign spouse. The three primary forms that you need to file are:

Additionally, you have to submit the following forms:

  • Form I-864, which is the affidavit of support.

  • Form I-765, which is an application for employment authorization.

  • Form I-693, which is the report of medical examination and vaccination record.

  • Form I-131, which is the application for travel documents.

A vital thing to remember is that after the submission of an application, the foreign immigrant spouse can’t leave the U.S. without advance parole. If they do so before the advance parole is available, USCIS may consider their application for adjustment of status to have been dropped. Thus, it is advisable to consult a green card lawyer to deal with scenarios like these.

Checklist for Adjustment of Status Through Marriage 

Besides the documents mentioned in the above section, you’ll also have to submit other records to adjust the status through marriage. Most of these documents are required to prove the legitimacy of the marriage, such as:

  • Pictures showing the couple with their family and friends in different gatherings of their combined assets.

  • Mail  (including letters, bills, and statements) that the couple has jointly received at their joint address.

  • Joint bank accounts or other supporting documents which show that the couple owns combined assets.

  • Documents showing that both partners have addressed each other as beneficiaries in their life insurance policies.

The documents and other records would vary from case to case. An experienced immigration attorney can help you with the application to register as a permanent resident by guiding you through the immigration process.

Procedure to Submit an Adjustment of Status Application

Here is the step-by-step process you can follow to submit an application to get a permanent resident card for your spouse, who is a foreign citizen.

Step 1: Fill Out and Submit the Application to USCIS

First, you have to fill out the I-130, and I-485 forms that USCIS issues and submit them. 

Step 2: Receive Receipt Notices

Once you submit the application, you will get receipt notices from USCIS after a couple of weeks.

Step 3: Biometrics Appointment

USCIS will then schedule a biometrics appointment at the nearest office. The foreign spouse would have to give their fingerprints and photos so that USCIS can run relevant background checks.

Step 4: Interview

This is the most critical step in getting a green card. USCIS will send an interview notice to the U.S. citizen and their foreign citizen spouse along with the list of the required documents for the interview.

The primary reason for the interview is to ensure that the marriage isn’t for the sole purpose of availing benefits of immigration. It can also be to check if the foreign spouse’s background is clear of any criminal record or if they have an unlawful presence in the U.S. USCIS will check all the aspects to ensure their eligibility to secure a marriage-based green card.

After the interview, you will have to wait for the approval notice from USCIS. You can check the status online to know where your application is currently.

Timeline for Adjustment of Status Through Marriage

Getting a green card can be a long and time-consuming process. Therefore, giving an exact timeframe for a marriage-based adjustment of status is not easy. If the spouse is a U.S. citizen, then it can take up to 12 months or more for the process to be completed.

The process can take longer than that, depending on where you are applying from and other factors. Nevertheless, you can consult Kansas City Immigration Lawyers, a law firm that provides citizenship and immigration services, to understand your options.


KC Immigration Lawyers, Your Immigration Law Firm


While you can apply for adjustment of status on your own, having experienced immigration lawyers by your side through the process is always a good idea. A knowledgeable immigration lawyer can determine your eligibility, complete your paperwork, and prepare you for your interview. We are here to help you with all your immigration needs at KC Immigration Lawyers!