A Guide to Legalizing Your Family’s Immigration Status: What You Need to Know

Navigating the complex landscape of US immigration laws can be overwhelming to say the least.

Consular processing is the process through which eligible individuals who are outside the United States apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country or the country where they reside.

With this article, we’ll provide a comprehensive guide on what you need to know to legalize your family’s immigration status, including the documents you’ll need to provide, the cost associated with it, and more.

Read on for all the information you need to make sure your family is safe and secure!

Introduction and Overview of the Immigration Process

The process of legalizing your family’s immigration status can seem overwhelming, but it’s important to know what you need to do to make sure that your family can stay in the US legally.

You can achieve legal status in multiple ways, and hiring a lawyer can help you determine the best course of action.

When you consult your attorney, the next step is acquiring the necessary documentation.

After you’ve gathered all of the necessary documentation, you’ll need to submit it to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

The USCIS will then review your application and determine whether or not your family is eligible for legal status. If approved, you’ll be issued a green card, which will allow you and your family to live and work in the United States indefinitely.

Qualifying Relationships for a Green Card

A citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States may apply for a green card on behalf of certain family members.

The entire procedure starts when the beneficiary’s U.S. citizen or permanent resident parent submits Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative (intending immigrant).

The recipient must fall under either the immediate relative or family preference categories to be granted a green card based on family ties. Form I-130 is used to prove a qualifying relationship so that a relative can submit a green card application.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible to apply for adjustment of status, the person (or people) who are applying for the adjustment need to fulfill three basic conditions. They will need to:

  1. Be physically present in the United States.

Your family member must be in the country when the application for adjustment of status is submitted (and will need to do the process in the US).

  1. Have entered the US legally

Your family member entered the country legally and was granted admission or parole. For the majority of people, this implies that they arrived in the United States legally, made eye contact with a US immigration official, and the officer acknowledged their admission. They had a legal entry if they came with a valid visa that has since expired.

  1. Have a visa for immigration readily available

The I-130 petition and the adjustment of status application may both be filed by immediate family members of US citizens. That is because visas are constantly accessible.

Family preference candidates, however, need to confirm that a visa is accessible. Before submitting Form I-485, their category must be listed as “current” in the visa bulletin.

If you and your family meet these criteria, you are all set to apply for the adjustment of status.

Required Documents

You’ll need to obtain a few documents before you can start the process of legalizing your family’s immigration status.

Prospective immigrants who fulfill the criteria for status adjustment may submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

Immediate relatives can file concurrently, meaning that Form I-485 and Form I-130 are filed simultaneously. However, these forms are just the two primary forms. The following forms are typically included in family-based adjustment application packages:

  • Application to Register as a Permanent Resident or to Adjust Status, Form I-485
  • Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130.
  • Biographical Information, Form I-130A (if the relative is a spouse).
  • Affidavit of Support, Form I-864
  • Report of Medical Examination and Immunization Record, Form I-693
  • The Employment Authorization Application, Form I-765 (optional)
  • Application for Travel Document, Form I-131 (optional)

Once you have all of these documents gathered, you’ll be ready to start the process of legalizing your family’s status.

As this process can get a bit complex, you should consult an experienced immigration attorney to ensure that you are taking the right steps and not missing any documentation.

Filing Fees

Filing fees and timelines can vary depending on your family’s immigration status. However, we broke it down so you can know what to expect and to prepare in advance.

For the I-130 petition for an adjustment of status, you can expect to pay $535. If you’re submitting a different petition, make sure you read the filing instructions to ensure you pay the right amount.

Once your petition is granted, you must pay an additional fee to submit your I-485 green card application. The average application will cost you $1,140 and an additional $85 for biometrics.

If you are under 14 and file an I-485 with one of your parents, the fee is $995; if you file on your own, the fee is the full $1,140. However, if you’re under 14 or over 79 years old, the biometrics fee is waived.

If you’re submitting Form I-485 as a refugee, both the filing fee and the biometrics charge are entirely waived.

The timeline for processing an adjustment of status application can vary, but you can expect it to last between 12 and 22 months.

Resources for Assistance

If your loved one wants to obtain legal status in the United States, several resources can help.

The first step is to consult an experienced immigration attorney who can assess your individual situation and advise you of your options. If you are in the New York area, contact a Law SB immigration lawyer in Manhattan for help with your family’s immigration status.

Next, there are certain organizations that provide legal services to immigrants. These organizations can help with the process of filing for legal status, as well as provide other support services such as English classes and job placement assistance.

In addition, many online resources can provide information and guidance on the process of legalizing your immigration status. These resources can be a valuable addition to the advice and assistance of an experienced attorney.


Legalizing your family’s immigration status can be a long and complicated process, but with the right guidance, it is achievable.

We hope that this guide has provided you with the information you need to start this journey in the right direction.

From researching visa options to preparing for interviews and gathering paperwork, there are many steps involved. But taking one step at a time will help make sure that your family’s legal status is secured as soon as possible.