Upon the approval of an immigrant visa petition by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services(USCIS), an applicant who is lawfully present in the United States has the option to process the last step of the permanent residence application at the appropriate regional USCIS service center. This process is known as Adjustment of Status and is also commonly referred to as I-485 processing (named after the USCIS application form that is used for this purpose).

In certain circumstances, the USCIS permits the concurrent filing of Form I-140 Employment-Based Immigrant Visa Petitions with I-485 Applications for Adjustment of Status. This policy allows applicants to file the last stage of the permanent residence process more quickly, provided that the applicant elects to process through the Adjustment of Status procedure. The regulation applies to employment-based I-140 applications, excluding certain categories from time to time. In theory, this should reduce the total processing time by several months, depending on the regional USCIS office where the application is filed. Concurrent filing of the I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status requires the employee’s priority date to be current. If an immigrant visa is not available, then the I-140 petition must first be filed and the I-485 application is filed at a later date when the immigrant visa becomes available.

The concurrent filing option does not apply to Consular Processing applications. Applicants who wish to process their final permanent residence application at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad are not eligible to proceed with final processing until their Form I-140 has been approved.

Another provision in the law allows adjustment of status applicants, whose applications have been pending for 180 days or more, to change jobs or employers without invalidating the underlying I-140 or Labor Certification, provided that the new job is in the same or similar occupational classification described in the original petition and other requirements are met.

Other important aspects of the Adjustment of Status process include:

Work Authorization. Adjustment of Status applicants (including spouses and children) may obtain temporary work authorization while their adjustment applications are pending.

International Travel. International travel is permitted only with the proper USCIS documents and authorization. Persons with pending I-485 applications who travel abroad must obtain proper USCIS authorization or risk the abandonment of their permanent residence applications.

Interviews. USCIS requires that all Adjustment of Status applicant attend a personal interview at a USCIS District Office.

Approval. When an Adjustment of Status application is approved, an applicant’s status is changed, or “adjusted”, to that of lawful permanent resident. The approved applicants’ passports are stamped with interim travel and work authorization. The permanent residence “green card” will arrive in the mail several months later.