Marriage-based immigration to the United States is often mentioned as being the most straightforward method for foreign-born fiances and fiancees to become legal residents and later naturalized citizens. When compared to other types of immigrants, it is generally correct to assume that getting a K-1 visa to enter the U.S. as a fiance or fiancee is easier. The process of applying for legal residence, however, is the same: The new spouse or a U.S. citizen must file for Adjustment of Status (AOS).
The first step of the AOS process is to comply with the terms of the K-1 visa, which means that the immigrant must get married to a U.S. citizen within 90 days of arrival in the country. Prior to this step, the U.S. citizen must have already filed an I-129F form with the United States Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The next step is to gather the funds to pay for the filing fee, which stood at $1,070 during the second term of the Obama Administration. Certified and authenticated copies of the following documents must be obtained:
Copies of the I-94, the marriage license or certificate, and of the K-1 visa approval notice will also be needed along with photos of the couple.
The I-485 Package
At the center of the AOS process is a packet of documents anchored by the Form I-485, Petition for Alien Relative. Other forms in the packet may include:
Form G-325 for photographs and fingerprints.
Form I-693, Medical Examination of Aliens Seeking Adjustment of Status.
Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.
Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization.
Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.
The last two forms on the list above are optional; however, it is a good idea to obtain authorization to work and travel outside of the U.S. at the same time AOS is granted. The cover page of the I-485 package explains the purpose of each form. Another form found in the I-485 package is the G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, which should be clipped to the top of the packet before it is mailed to the Chicago processing center; this is a form that allows the USCIS to contact applicants via email or text message.
It is always a good idea to double check the completion of all forms more than once before the packet is assembled and mailed. The fee must be paid with either a personal check or money order that can be tracked.