Because we, too, were recently stressed out and wanting to guarantee our AOS from VWP, I want to share our story and timeline with all of you.
I hope it helps!!
I am a USC, born in the US. I moved abroad to live in New Zealand in 2006. Shortly after arriving, I met my (now) husband and in 2009 we had a baby. We continued to live in New Zealand until September of 2013, when I was promoted to a job in the US, from a foreign ( NZ ) branch of my US- headquartered company.
My husband had been working in New Zealand, in a position which required frequent international travel, on behalf of a NZ-based company which also has a foreign branch in the US.
I had 3 weeks from the signed offer of the new position to move everything and start to investigate the process to bring my family here.
Incidentally and quite serendipitously, my husband also had a work trip planned back in June 2013 for September 2013, for which he would travel overseas, and tack on a work/pleasure trip to the US. This was also when my offer came through and when my daughter and I had planned to arrive in the US.
This was a critical factor in being able to adjust status from VWP.
in September, I was actually advised by the American consulate in New Zealand that my husband was required to file direct with them in NZ. This essentially meant that he would file in September, be required to return to NZ after his work trip and wait 3-12 months for formal processing of the Immigrant petition, AOS, and visa to come to the US before approval.
I completely freaked out at this advice, knowing my daughter and I couldn't survive without him for up to 1 year.
The time to leave came very quickly, and we did not have the time to start the process before leaving NZ - this was very lucky!!!!
My daughter and I landed in the US in September, followed a few weeks after by my husband who came in on the VWP due to his previously planned work trip. It was no issue for him to enter as he showed his work documents and return ticket to the immigration officer, with no issue.
We ( joyfully! ) connected here in the US and after settling in, I completed more research on what options were available to us, so he would not have to leave us in 3 months and return to NZ.
After consulting with an attorney, we learned that he could actually apply to adjust status from the VWP WITHOUT returning back to NZ, and filing through the consulate! This was obviously much preferred to him having to leave in December, as previously planned. Although I consulted with a lawyer, I read through the law and the required documents thoroughly, and completed the entire application myself....with no problems, whatsoever!
We prepared HEAVILY for the interview - mulling over hundreds of questions and scenarios. Perhaps it is because we have a child, and have been married for four years, but the officer did NOT ask us a single question related to our relationship!
The interview was at 7:45am. It took us longer to check in ( security check, waiting room ) than the actual interview itself.
I dutifully brought originals and 2 x copies of all the documents submitted for the AOS and petition, best practice from what I read online.
After swearing us in ( which takes about 5 second )she spent the first 10 minutes of the interview collecting:
1. All 3 passports from myself, my daughter and my husband
2. All 3 birth certificates
3. All 3 social security cards
She then went into a separate room making additional photocopies of this information. ( this was included in our original application )
She asked me for documents showing joint financial accounts & life insurance, which I provided. ( this was included in our original application )
She asked me for a copy of my husband's previous divorce decree ( this was included in our original application )
Then she asked my husband what the purpose of his trip in September was - we furnished documents and explained
She asked him to confirm that the purpose was for business, which he did.
She asked when he decided to immigrate - we explained our story. She wrote down a note in the file and then left the room for 5 minutes.
Then she said ok - we need to further review your file. If we need additional documents, I will send you a notice in the mail.
I said I have all documents with me, both originals and copies, to which she said, don't worry about that. ( which I thought was weird considering the effort I took in compiling everything for the interview )
She shakes our hand and gives us a notice of continuance. We freak out and think there is something wrong, as we read they typically stamp your passport and give you a decision right there.
Fifteen minutes after leaving, I get a call from her asking if I can fax information related to the I-864, including tax returns, W-2, and a copy of my offer letter at work. Luckily we were not far, and I did this immediately. No further response that day.
31/10/2013 - Filed I-130, I-131, I-765, I-485 with National Benefits Center
04/11/2013 - Notice of Action receipt
07/11/2013 - Notice of Biometrics appointment for 22/11/2013
22/11/2013 - Fingerprints taken
29/11/2013 - call to the USCIS National Customer Service to check on the I-131 status for husband to return to New Zealand for work ( not abandon the whole process. They gave minimal information and we were very nervous as the status NEVER appeared on the online portal. I assumed they had lost the application
23/12/2013 - we received the Combo card advance parole & EAD
02/01/2014 - Notice for AOS interview for 05/02/2014
05/02/2014 - Interview date - given a "reason for continuance" document at the interview. Worried thinking this would delay approval
9/02/2014 - Welcome letter
10/02/2014 - Received Green card in the mail!!
From start to finish 3 months and 10 days :)
As an aside, in January my husband had to leave the US for a previously planned work trip back to New Zealand. After reading about some issues others have had with the advance parole/EAD combo card, we were quite nervous about his successful re-entry to the country.
After researching this, we found the best way to enter back into the US on this card was to arrive at a small/lesser populated POE, late at night, with all the relevant documents for the I-131 & I-485. I selected to route him through Honolulu late at night ( 10pm ), versus LAX, and his wait time was 15 minutes. no questions asked - he was the on his connecting flight immediately following, no issue.
I hope this gives some of you insight and hope about the process!
you don't have to be separated from your family - and the USCIS DOES/CAN quickly process applications. To be honest, it was 1/4 of the time NZ took to process my residency application - most unexpected :)
I wish you all the best of luck!!!