The Battle of the Forms
Following is a list of documents that you may need to adjust your status from fiancé(e) visa to permanent resident. Some of them are mandatory for everyone, and some are needed only under certain circumstances.
- Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This is the main petition needed to apply for permanent residence.
- Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the Act. You will need this affidavit of support even though a similar form, Form I-134, was submitted during your fiancé(e) visa application process.
- Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, if you wish to work prior to the issuance of your green card.
- Form I-131, Application for Travel Document., if you plan to leave the US while your green card application is pending. Without it, your I-485 will be considered abandoned the moment you leave the US.
- Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record. You only need this if your previous medical examination (for your fiancé(e) visa) is over one year old, or if your previous medical exam uncovered a Class A medical condition. You might also need a vaccination record (Form DS-3025).
- G-1450, Authorization for Credit Card Transactions, if you are paying the filing fee by credit card.
You will need the following supporting documents to adjust status from fiancé(e) visa to permanent resident:
- A certified copy of your birth certificate (long form), accompanied by a certified translation if your birth certificate is not written in English.
- A copy of your passport’s biographical information page, plus a copy of the passport pages containing your fiancé(e) visa and your US entry stamp (these might both be located on the same page)
- A copy of your I-94 Arrival/Departure Record that you received when you entered the US. If you lost it, it is available online.
- A copy of the USCIS Approval Notice for your fiancé(e) visa petition.
- A certified copy of your marriage certificate.
- At least two color passport-style photographs of you (you will need a total of four photographs if you are applying for a work permit). These must be prepared in accordance with USCIS specifications.
The USCIS may request additional documentation, depending on your circumstances (and perhaps on the political climate at the time).
You will need to mail the application packet (the forms plus your supporting documents) to the USCIS Chicago Lockbox. You can expect to receive a Receipt Notice in the mail within a few weeks. Afterward, you might receive a Request for Evidence (RFE), which you will need to respond to promptly.
The End Game
Several weeks or even several months after you submit Form I-485 you will be scheduled for fingerprinting, probably at the USCIS office nearest you.
The Conditional Permanent Residence Interview
After you are fingerprinted, an in-person interview with the USCIS will be scheduled. You will be notified of the date well in advance, and the USCIS will send you a list of documents to bring with you. This list will include evidence of the bona fide nature of your relationship (photo, correspondence, evidence of a joint bank account, etc.).
At the interview, the officer will inspect the documents you brought with you and ask you some questions. The questions will be mainly designed to determine whether your marriage is legitimate, or entered into for the sole purpose of obtaining immigration benefits. If the interview is successful, you will receive your green card in the mail within a few weeks.
Since you will have been married less than two years by the time your interview takes place, you will receive something called a “conditional permanent residence.” What this means is that at this point, your green card is not really permanent, but only valid for two years.
The Unconditional Permanent Residence Interview
Within 90 days before your conditional permanent residence expires, you will need to apply to have the “condition removed.” You will need to file additional paperwork and attend another interview, this time together with your spouse. If the interview is successful, your “unconditional permanent resident” green card will be approved. Only then will you become a permanent resident of the US.
If you have divorced during the two-year period and your spouse is not willing to accompany you, you might be eligible for a waiver that would allow you to appear at the interview alone.