Common Mistakes People Make When Applying for a Green Card Through Adjustment of Status


Mistake #1 – Not understanding the Eligibility Requirements.

Adjustment of Status requires lawful entry into the U.S. The applicant must have been inspected or paroled into the U.S. and have some evidence of the entry. There are many ways to enter the U.S. lawfully and some options after an illegal entry. Speaking with an Immigration Attorney is very important to determine if the Adjustment of Status option is available or if a Green Card could ever be granted.

Mistake #2 – Not filling out all of the forms.

The Adjustment of Status application is composed of seven or more different forms. Missing one form or completing a form incorrectly can lead to a denial or add many months of avoidable processing time. (See Our Post on G-325A Error).

Mistake #3 – Not having the supporting documents.

The Petitioner, Applicant, Sponsor, and Household Members will have to provide a lot of evidence. Proof of a marriage or birth is not enough. Every spousal process will need to overcome a presumption of marriage fraud. Tax Records, Proofs of Current Income, Divorce Certificates, and Criminal Records must be provided in every filing. Generally, the applicant must prove to the U.S. Government that he or she is admissible as a Green Card Holder, and nothing in their file will lead to a denial.

Mistake # 4 – Moving and error in a mailing address.

USCIS may deny a filing if any mail is ever returned to USCIS by USPS. USPS mail forwarding is insufficient, USPS may deem an applicant does not reside at a given address (different name on the mailbox), and USCIS may receive a change of address, but not update a filing before a notice is created. Changing one’s address with USCIS can happen within a 5 week period, in my experience. Notices from USCIS is monumentally important since barcodes may be present, they state when an appointment is needed, and that may state a request for supporting documents the immigration officer needs to receive, to name a few examples. In short, an error in a mailing address can be very costly. (See USCIS Change of Address Post).

Mistake #5 – Not having the affidavit of support.

The affidavit of support is a critical form in every Green Card application. The I-864 series of forms are confusing and require a substantial amount of evidence. Failure to provide a sufficient affidavit of support will lead to a denial. (See Post on Affidavit of Support).

Mistake # 6 – Not sending your packet to the right location.

Where to send a form is critical because certain offices only handle specific types of forms and geographic locations. It is important to know the correct location for filing, or USCIS will return the filing one to two months later to the sender with a denial. (See Our Youtube Video).

Mistake # 7 – Not telling the whole truth.

If an applicant lies or fails to tell the whole truth, the green card application will be denied. If approved and the lie is discovered, the green card could be revoked and deportation issued. In short, any lying to the USCIS is a crime. (See Our Post on Marriage Fraud).

Mistake # 8 – Leaving the US.

Applying for a green card does not (2) change your immigration status or (2) give you the right to re-enter the US. Many aliens are understandably eager to visit their home country after years away from home. An applicant can apply for a travel permit while an adjustment of status application is pending; however, any travel may lead to a denial. Travel outside of the U.S. should only be done when absolutely necessary and an I-131 had been approved by USCIS prior to exiting the U.S.

Mistake # 9 – Not being prepared for your interview.

The immigration interview is like a final exam. At the interview, the immigration officer will ask you questions from your forms and supporting documents or lack of supporting documents. Also, not bringing an original and copy of all required interview documents, can make the interview very difficult. (See Our Interview Preparation Post).

Mistake # 10 – Relying on USCIS advice.

USCIS is not a replacement for an attorney. The can read the instructions to a caller on their “help line.” However, they cannot answer many kinds of questions. Even something as simple as “correct address for filing a form” may be misstated by USCIS or an answer not even given. The aid of an immigration attorney can be helpful and can give advice for a client to act upon with confidence.

If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to call Fickey Martinez Law Firm at (910) 526-0066 or email us at


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