Filing for Permanent Residence

The final step in getting permanent residence (or in getting a “green card”) is for the scholar to file for permanent residence. This part of the application is between the individual, USCIS, and the US Department of State. In order to file, the scholar's priority date must be current per the monthly Department of State Visa Bulletin.

The final step can be done while the scholar is inside the US, in which case it is referred to as Adjustment of Status, or when the scholar is outside the US, referred to as Consular Processing. A qualified immigration attorney should be engaged for this last stage of the permanent residency process. Scholar Services will provide a list of immigration attorneys with whom scholars have had success in the past.

Applying for Permanent Residency From Inside the US: Form I-485, Adjustment of Status

If a scholar is in the US in a nonimmigrant status, they may apply for permanent residence by filing Form I-485 (Adjustment of Status) with USCIS. This can be done concurrently with submission of the I-140, while the I-140 is pending, or after it is approved.

The I-485 is the primary form for Adjustment of Status but the application requires many other supporting forms and documents, including a medical form that requires a physical exam and signature by a USCIS-approved physician (civil surgeon). Spouse and children under 21 may submit an I-485 and supporting documents as well. All USCIS forms associated with Adjustment of Status can be downloaded from the USCIS website. The I-485 must be submitted with the appropriate fees. The fee includes the cost of biometrics and accompanying work and travel permissions.

Within a couple weeks of submission of an I-485, an applicant will be notified to visit a Department of Homeland Security office in New York City to have biometrics taken.

Processing time for Adjustment of Status varies widely.


As of October 2, 2017, USCIS requires in-person interviews of all employment-based permanent residency applicants at a USCIS Field Office. USCIS may waive the interview for children under the age of 14, but all family members will receive individualized interview notices regardless of age. OGS highly recommends that scholars retain outside counsel to prepare and accompany them to the interview. We are able to provide referrals to outside immigration attorneys as requested.

Applying for Permanent Residency from Outside the US: Consular Processing

Scholars interested in this option should consult an immigration attorney. We can provide you with a list of immigration attorneys upon request; legal fees would be incurred if you use their services.