What Forms Do I Need for Spousal Adjustment of Status?
This is one of the most often asked questions and the answer is always changing. With USCIS changing the required forms depending on certain criteria, and the Trump administration constantly modifying immigration laws, now more than ever it is important to complete this process right the first time.
The most important thing to remember is that not every adjustment of status through marriage is the same so not each one requires the same forms. The process seems simple from an outsider’s perspective, but having practiced immigration law for years, the one thing that I can guarantee you is that it is anything but simple. The forms have almost doubled in page count in the past few years and have only gotten more and more nuanced and complex.
The best piece of advice I, or anyone else that has gone through this before enough is, do not this by yourself. USCIS is not your friend, they are not here to help you, and they will not fix your mistakes. An innocent error could result in a delay or even a denial depending on the circumstances. Lawyer up and get it done right.
The various forms refer to one party in an adjustment of status in about four different ways. For example, a petitioner for purposes of this USCIS, refers to the person soliciting a benefit from USCIS. While a beneficiary is the person, in this case the immigrant spouse, that will be receiving that benefit. The petitioner may be the U.S. citizen/LPR spouse in one form, while on another form the word petitioner refers to the foreign national spouse.
What Forms Do I Need To Complete?
The I-130 is the petition for an alien relative. Straight from the USCIS website, “Submitting Form I-130 is the first step in helping an eligible relative apply to immigrate to the United States and get [a] Green Card.” This form is one of the most used because it applies to not just spouses but also qualifying relatives and establishes a relationship between the petitioner and the foreign national. This is also filed in conjunction with form I-130a. I-130a is supplemental information for the spouse beneficiary.
Once an I-130 is approved your benefit is…. well essentially nothing. All you have done is prove to USCIS that the person you are petitioning for has some sort of eligible relationship with you.
This is the final boss of immigration forms. The instructions alone for this form are 43 pages. Why? Because USCIS hates you. Form I-485 is used by a person in the U.S. to apply for lawful permanent resident status, otherwise known as a green card.
Form I-765 is the applicant for employment authorization. If the foreign national spouse is in the U.S., there is a good chance they will be looking to work while this process is pending. While the green card itself is its own work authorization, often our clients would also prefer to be lawfully employed during the lengthy adjustment process. This form serves as a tool to ask USCIS for employment authorization and an employment authorization document.
If you are subject to the public charge ground of inadmissibility, INA 212(a)(4), you need to submit this form in conjunction with your I-485. If you don’t know what public charge is, or you are unsure if you fall under the umbrella of admissible vs. inadmissible, you need to contact an attorney immediately. The consequences of making an error on this form especially could be detrimental to the outcome of your case.
If you have researched this process to some detail, one term you likely have come across is “Affidavit of Support.” Most family-based immigration cases and some employment based cases use this form to show that they possess the sufficient financial support and are not likely to rely on the U.S. for financial support. You may also need an I-864a depending on your financial situation.
In the end, it’s easy to see how confused someone can become in trying to do this process without an attorney. Even doing all of these forms perfectly is still not enough to get a green card granted. There is also an extensive list of documents that USCIS requires in order to even consider your application. On top of that, USCIS will flat out reject your solicitation if their filing fee check is not written out in the very specific way they want. Get an experienced immigration attorney to rid you of this headache.