When a U.S. citizen decides to marry a foreign-born person who is here in the U.S., then that person may be eligible to adjust if:
- he/she entered U.S. with inspection
- he/she has not committed a serious crime
- he/she entered without inspection but is covered by the provisions of 245(i), a special program whic expred on 04/30/2001
Assuming that the foreign spouse is eligible to adjust, then a “one-step” process can be used, where the I-130 and I-485 can be filed together, and sent to the CIS National Benefits Center. At the time of filing, work and travel documents can also be applied for, assuming the applicant is eligible. The applicant will eventually receive a notice for fingerprinting (biometric appointment) and then later an interview notice. A personal interview, with both spouses, will be conducted at the local USCIS office. Assuming that all necessary documents have been presented, the application will be approved, and the status of conditional resident (CR) will be granted.
When the parties have been married for less than two years, the green card is approved for only a conditional, two-year period. Three months before the end of this period of time, the CIR should file form I-751 to remove conditions, and then a permanent (valid for 10 years) card will be issued.
The period of time spent in both CR and LPR status does count towards the requirements for naturalization.