Lawful Resident Green Card: “What Do I Do About Her Adjustment of Status?”

Lawful Resident Green Card: “What Do I Do About Her Adjustment of Status to Lawful Resident Green Card?”


A Fiancee Visa holder who marries a U.S. Citizen sponsor within their 90-day visit must begin a new immigration petition process called “Adjustment of Status“. This will change the immigration status of the Fiancee to the new status called Lawful Permanent Residency, shown with an identification often simply called “Green Card.”

The Fiancee’s accompanying Minor children (under Age 21) may adjust their immigration status to Lawful Permanent Residency at the same time.

Lawful Permanent Residency for Fiancee or Minor Children obtained in this way is limited to 24 months, provided the marriage union continues. Thus, this status is often referred to as “Conditional Residency.”



This article will review the basic forms and documents needed for obtaining the Lawful Residency Green Card for the Fiancee after marriage in the U.S.

The average processing times for the Lawful Resident Green Card around the country can be lengthy – 6 to 12 months for Interview Date and Approval. You can check current processing times for the Lawful Resident Green Card (Form I-485) at U.S. Immigration here: Processing Times. However, the Temporary 12 Month Travel and Work Permissions are approved in about 90 days after filing date. U.S. Immigration mails the applicant an Identification Card called a “Red Card” to prove temporary travel and work permissions. (Applicants with a documented Emergency Situation can schedule, via the USCIS online website, a personal appointment at the local USCIS Immigration Office, and ask for immediate consideration: InfoPass Appointment.) 

Documents suggested for the Forms: 

  • Certified or Exemplified Copy of Marriage Certificate
  • Certified Birth Certificates of the Applicant(s) and Petitioner
  • Notarized Copy of Petitioner’s U.S. Passport
  • Copy of Form I-797 Notice of Approval of Fiancee Visa Petition
  • Copy of Applicant’s I-94 Arrival/Departure Record, U.S. Visa and Foreign Passport
  • Copy of Applicant’s Social Security Card, if there is one
  • Two(2) Color Passport Photographs of Applicant and Petitioner (separately).
    See Color Photo Specifications.
  • Written, signed, dated and notarized Statements of the Applicant about her or his International Travel Plans (where, when, how long away and how often and for what reason), and Job Search and Employment Plans (where she will look for a job, what kind and when, and if she or he already has a job offer, details of the job offer such as name and address of employer, start date, job title and starting wage).
  • Copy of Applicant’s Embassy Vaccination Report, if available
  • Financial Documents of Petitioner U.S. Citizen: Proof of Employment, Proof of Income, Federal Tax Returns
  • Proof of Sincere Marriage Relationship and Residence of Couple at a Joint Home Address 


1. When Do I Have to File the Adjustment of Status and Related Petitions?

USCIS Immigration advises Applicants to file Adjustment of Status as soon as possible after marriage, and within the 90 day period of the Fiancee Visa. Realistically, this is often not possible for many couples who after marriage might be more concerned with honeymoon, family and other issues. Thus, in the past, USCIS Immigration has allowed a “reasonable time” after marriage or the expiration of the Fiancee Visa to file Adjustment of Status, usually interpreted to mean 30 to 60 days. However, because USCIS procedures can change without notice, it is suggested that Applicants file Adjustment of Status, without delay, as soon as possible and practical after marriage.

2. What About the Social Security Card and Number?

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) is responsible for issuing the Social Security Card and Number. Click here for the website of SSA.

The general rule is that under current SSA regulations, a Fiancee Visa holder can obtain a temporary Social Security Card and Number valid for work during the visa’s 90 day visitation period BEFORE MARRIAGE. The Applicant simply applies at the local SSA Office with all identification, including Passport and Fiancee Visa. (Naturally, this should only be done if a final decision to marry the U.S. Citizen has been made first.) The Social Security Card and Number however will be marked temporary, and must be made permanent after marriage with the filing of the Adjustment of Status and related Petitions.

The other alternative, in the event there is no urgent need to immediately work or obtain Social Security status, is for the Applicant to conclude the marriage first, and then file for Adjustment of Status with related Petitions, one of which is the Employment Authorization. After a 90 day processing period, the Applicant will receive an identification card called a “Red Card”, valid for work and travel, and can then apply for a Social Security Card and Number. See SSA website “Visa Classifications That Allow You to Work in U.S.”

3. What About the State Driver’s License?

The Motor Vehicle Departments of the various states are responsible for issuance of the State Driver’s or Operators License. Fiancee Visa holders can usually apply for a state driver’s license in many states, but some states will require Employment Authorization called “Red Card” or a Lawful Resident “Green Card”. Applicants who hold a foreign driver’s license or an International Driver’s Permit may qualify more easily. Naturally, Motor Vehicle Departments will require identification documents, passports and immigration visas, and a written and driver’s test. Some states may also require a Social Security Number and Card. (Unfortunately, the Social Security Office will NOT normally issue a Social Security Number and Card solely for the purpose of applying for a state driver’s license. Thus, the visa holder may be forced to first secure work permission with Immigration.) Check this website for more information on State Driver’s Licenses in the various states.

4. Does the Applicant Need to Obtain Medical Examination, and What Do I Need to Know About the Personal Interview?

Medical Examination: USCIS Immigration is responsible to make sure that arriving immigrants do not spread communicable diseases in the U.S. Thus, immigrants are required to show general good health and proper vaccinations with a Medical Examination and Form I-963 Report from an approved medical physician. Generally, the applicant can simply show their Medical Examination and Report from the U.S. Consulate which issued the Fiancee Visa. The applicable federal regulation states that no additional medical examination and report is necessary if the Consular Medical Examination was done within 12 months of the date of the Adjustment of Status petition. See 8 CFR Section 245.5. However, the USCIS Immigration Case Officer retains final discretion to order another medical examination and report, if appropriate in a given case. If it becomes necessary, USCIS offers a lengthy list of approved doctors serving all jurisdictions in the U.S. 

Personal Interview: USCIS Immigration Case Officer will typically conduct a personal interview of the couple in the local office on a designated date and time. The purpose of the interview is to satisfy Immigration that the marriage relationship is sincere and genuine, without any sole intent for immigration benefits. Typical questions at the interview cover: biography of each partner, details of the relationship such as how, when and where the couple met, and the current relationship. Sometimes, references or affidavits of family or friends, or financial or other supplemental documents are requested. Extensive background checks are conducted. If all goes well, the Lawful Resident Green Card is approved and mailed. 

5. Can the Applicant or Holder of a Green Card sponsor their relatives to the U.S.?

Only a Green Card holder (or U.S. Citizen) can sponsor relatives to the U.S. (It is strongly suggested that any Green Card holder first research, pursue and secure U.S. Citizenship before sponsoring relatives to the U.S. because the visa processing times are significantly shorter.)
IMMIGRANT VISA (for Permanent stay in U.S.): A Green Card holder can only sponsor a spouse or minor child but it will take 5 to 7 years or longer. If the Green Card holder can secure U.S. Citizenship first, he or she can sponsor immediate relatives such as a spouse, minor child or parent in 10 to 12 months, and preference relatives such as adult child or sibling in about 5 years. NON-IMMIGRANT VISA (for temporary, limited visit for particular purpose such as tourism, study or work): No sponsor is necessary. The foreign visa applicant can apply on their own at the U.S. Consulate in their country, often on the Consular website.


Please visit: Marriage License Requirements