Having a Green Card makes you a permanent resident of the United States. You can legally stay in the country without any requirement to leave or to renew a visa. There are certain rights that you still don’t have, including the right to vote and to hold public office. Still, a permanent resident can live in the United States indefinitely if they avoid criminal charges and similar issues.
Becoming a permanent resident means that some of your family is eligible for immigration through your support or sponsorship. In order to go from a visa holder to a Green Card holder, you have to ask for the change. This process starts with the adjustment of your status. How do you adjust your status as a legal resident of the United States?
The process starts with paperwork
The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is the government organization responsible for analyzing visa applications and requests from those who would like to become citizens. As with most USCIS proceedings, the first step involves filing paperwork with the government.
You will have to file Form I-485. Usually, this step happens some time after you have approval for a visa, although some people apply for entry and permanent residence at the same time.
USCIS will require biometric data
Part of the adjustment of status process involves a thorough background check both internationally and here in the United States. To prevent abuses and keep people from tricking the system, USCIS typically also requires biometric information from applicants. This could include fingerprints, photos and signatures.
You may need to do an interview
If you have already secured a visa, then the chances are good that you have already sat through at least one USCIS interview. You may need to undergo another one as part of the adjustment of status process. You may have to provide additional evidence. Some people who get denied can possibly secure a Green Card when they appeal.
If you successfully complete all of these steps, you may then be eligible for your Green Card. Requesting the adjustment of your status is simply the first step in the process of staying in the United States. It could also be one step on your path to citizenship.