J-1 Exchange Visitor to Permanent Resident
There are several avenues to gain lawful permanent residency. Read more.
This information focuses on application through a family member: your spouse who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.
If you marry a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, you may have your spouse apply to USCIS in your behalf to adjust your status to a permanent resident; this would allow you to live and work in the U.S. while retaining citizenship in your home country.
The marriage must:
- not have been entered into for the sole purpose of conferring permanent residence status on the alien,
- be legally binding when performed and
- be currently in effect.
- application procedure
Obtain and complete the required forms and documents as listed by USCIS.
You may also apply for an employment authorization document (EAD) that authorizes you to work where and when you would like. Information is on the USCIS website.
If you plan to travel during the processing of the application, you should apply for the appropriate travel documents and receive authorization before you travel. Information is on the USCIS website.
NOTE: For answers to questions and concerns, you should consult directly with USCIS officers or with an attorney knowledgeable in immigration law since the application process involves your immigrant status and International Student Services works with non-immigrant status.
- Submit your application for conditional permanent residency after your marriage.
- Processing may take up to 14 months and involves interviews and providing biometrics. During this time you may work and travel outside the U.S. only if you have applied for and have received the appropriate work and travel authorizations. These take approximately three months to process. NOTE: During this time, you become ineligible for non-immigrant benefits like re-entry into the U.S. with a Form DS-2019 after a temporary absence from the country.
- You are officially designated as a conditional permanent resident when a designating stamp is placed in your passport. Conditional permanent residency extends for two years.
- Within 90 days before the two-year anniversary of being granted residency, you must apply to have the conditions removed and to become a permanent legal resident; otherwise, your residency is automatically terminated. Legal permanent residency is granted for ten years and may be renewed multiple times. After a minimum of three years of legal permanent residency, you may apply to become a U.S. citizen. This process is called naturalization.
NOTE: IT IS ILLEGAL TO LEAVE THE UNITED STATES AND RE-ENTER ON YOUR STUDENT VISA IF ANY TIME DURING YOUR STUDIES YOU INTEND TO APPLY FOR PERMANENT RESIDENCY.