Can I work in the U.S. if I have applied for permanent residency as a spouse of a green card holder living in the U.S.?
As the spouse of a green card holder (lawful permanent resident) who has applied for permanent residency (green card) through adjustment of status, you may be eligible to work in the U.S. while your application is pending if you meet certain requirements and apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
To work legally in the U.S. during the adjustment of status process, you will need to follow these steps:
File Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization:
- Form I-765 is used to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), commonly known as a work permit. You can obtain this form from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
Gather Supporting Documents:
- Along with Form I-765, you will need to submit supporting documents, which typically include copies of your Form I-94 (Arrival/Departure Record), your spouse’s green card (front and back), marriage certificate, and other evidence to show your eligibility.
Submit the Application:
- Once you have completed Form I-765 and gathered the required documents, you can submit the application to USCIS by mail or online, depending on the eligibility category you select.
Wait for Approval:
- USCIS will process your EAD application and, if approved, will issue the Employment Authorization Document. The EAD will typically be valid for one year and can be renewed as needed while your adjustment of status application is pending.
Start Working Legally:
- Once you receive your EAD, you can begin working legally in the U.S. for any employer. Your EAD will indicate the dates during which you are authorized to work.
It’s important to note that you should not start working until you have received your EAD and its validity period has begun. Unauthorized employment in the U.S. can have serious consequences for your immigration status.
Also, please be aware that the EAD does not grant you permanent residency or any other immigration status. It only provides temporary work authorization while your adjustment of status application is pending.
If you have any specific questions or concerns about your work authorization and eligibility, it’s advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative for personalized guidance based on your individual circumstances.
How long does it take to complete the immigration process for a spouse of a green card holder living in the U.S.?
The time it takes to complete the immigration process for a spouse of a green card holder living in the U.S. can vary based on several factors, including the specific circumstances of the case, the USCIS processing times, and the workload at the local USCIS field office where the adjustment of status application is processed. As of my last update in September 2021, here are some general timelines for the different stages of the process:
- Form I-130 Processing: The processing time for Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, filed by the green card holder spouse, can take several months. The USCIS processing times for I-130 petitions may vary based on the service center handling the case.
- Priority Date and Visa Availability: As a spouse of a green card holder, you will need to wait for a visa number to become available based on the visa bulletin issued by the U.S. Department of State. The waiting time for a visa number will depend on your country of birth and the visa category.
- Form I-485 Processing: After a visa number becomes available, you can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The processing time for Form I-485 may vary, but it can take several months to over a year to be approved. This timeline can be affected by factors such as the USCIS processing times and whether an adjustment of status interview is required.
- Work Authorization (EAD): If you apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) while your Form I-485 is pending, it usually takes a few months to receive the EAD card after filing Form I-765.
- Interview (if applicable): In some cases, USCIS may require an interview as part of the adjustment of status process. The interview scheduling and waiting time for an interview can vary based on the USCIS workload.
Please note that these timelines are approximate and may change due to fluctuations in USCIS processing times or other factors. Additionally, the availability of visa numbers can also impact the overall processing time.
It’s essential to keep track of your case status, follow up on any requests or notices from USCIS promptly, and seek legal advice if you encounter any issues during the process. If you have specific questions about your case, it’s advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative for personalized guidance based on your individual circumstances.
Can I file Forms I-130 and I-485 concurrently if I am married to a green card holder living in the U.S.?
If you are married to a green card holder and living in the U.S., you generally cannot file Forms I-130 and I-485 concurrently (at the same time). The ability to file these forms concurrently is usually limited to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, not green card holders.
Here’s how the process typically works for spouses of green card holders:
- Form I-130:
- The green card holder spouse must first file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to establish the qualifying relationship between you and your spouse. This form is used to initiate the process of obtaining an immigrant visa (green card) through family sponsorship.
- Waiting for Visa Availability:
- As a spouse of a green card holder, you will need to wait for a visa number to become available for your category. Visa numbers are subject to numerical limitations, and the availability depends on the visa bulletin issued by the U.S. Department of State.
- Form I-485:
- Once a visa number becomes available, you can then file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form is used to apply for your green card through adjustment of status. You must be physically present in the U.S. when you file Form I-485, and your priority date (the date USCIS received your I-130 petition) must be current based on the visa bulletin.
In summary, you cannot file Forms I-130 and I-485 concurrently if you are married to a green card holder. You must wait for the I-130 petition to be approved and for a visa number to become available before you can file Form I-485 to adjust your status to a lawful permanent resident (green card holder).
As immigration laws and policies can change, it’s essential to check the latest USCIS guidelines and forms instructions or consult with an immigration attorney or accredited representative for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding your specific case.