Certain individuals are eligible to adjust their status to that of lawful permanent resident based on a bona fide marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. The process enables individuals to change their status from non-immigrant to immigrant (or green card) status. The adjustment of status route is only available to those who have been inspected and admitted to the U.S. however. Those who have entered the U.S. without inspection, that is, without being inspected by U.S. Customs and Border Protection may be able to obtain a green card through the waiver and consular process routes.
It is important to bear in mind that there are many reasons why a person in a legitimate, bona fide marriage to a U.S. citizen may nevertheless not be eligible to adjust his status and become a permanent resident. There are several grounds of inadmissibility, for example, criminal convictions or prior fraud. An immigration attorney will also advise a client relative to the timing of the adjustment of status application. An application filed too close in time to a recent entry into the U.S. may cause an applicant to be denied in certain instances.