Step 1. Understand your situationBy that I mean, know your visa type, the regulations associated with it and how are they related to your native country. For me, I married a U.S. citizen and went to the International Students Office of my university for information, and went home with a piece of paper with a long list of forms and fees, and thought "Alright! I can do this!" Even though we really don't have the kind of money they're asking, but if we eat nothing but roman noodles and cabbages for a few months, we could make it.
Until half way through the I-485, they ask me this question:
Have you EVER been a J nonimmigrant exchange visitor who was subject to the 2-year foreign residence requirement and have not yet complied with that requirement or obtained a waiver?
The first thing that came to my mind was - "Crap! What does that mean?"
So make sure that you know exactly what is needed for you to complete your immigration paper work.
Step 2. Go see an Immigration Officer - This is probably not helpful if you are outside of U.S.It's free, and it will save you so much trouble. If you go to the USCIS home page, you'll see a side bar on the left, just under Case Status is InfoPass - Schedule a free appointment. Click on it, you will be taken to this page. After choosing the language you need, you will want to click the "make an appointment" button, put in your zip code, they ask you why you need an appointment. I think what I did was selecting the one that says I need more information. After selecting a time for your appointment, you will want to print out the last page with your appointment address and time, with your pin number also. You need to show that piece of paper when you have your appointment. The people who work there are very helpful and friendly, they will tell you what to do and give you all the forms you need. Ask any questions you may have, and you'd want to write them down, cause there's just so much information to remember.
Step 3. Read all instructions for all the forms you fill outThis is such a obvious thing, but since there's so many pages of instructions, I personally am very tempted at times to just skip them and go straight to the forms. Reading all the instructions will help you to give the correct information, which will save you time in the end.
It's pretty straight forward once you get the information from reliable sources, but my biggest problem was the waiver for J-1 visa, which took me a year half to get. Good luck to us all~~