What is Adjustment of Status?
According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the phrase “adjustment of status” provides an opportunity for an individual, while remaining in the U.S., to change his immigration status from nonimmigrant or parolee (temporary) to immigrant (permanent) if he was inspected and admitted or paroled into the U.S. and is able to meet any and all required elements for a green card in the particular category.
How to Get Adjustment of Status
In conjunction with having had proper inspection upon his initial entrance into the U.S., the immigrant must also:
- Submit the proper application: An I-485 form must be completed along with the requisite fee.
- Be eligible to receive an immigrant visa: He must fit within one of the approved visa categories and his immigrant visa petition must have been approved.
- Be admissible in the U.S.: Being granted adjustment of status means the same as being approved for permanent residence. This means that the same inadmissibility grounds provided for by the INA are also used to determine one's eligibility for adjustment of status. In limited situations, a waiver may be permissible.
- Have an immigrant visa be immediately available to him at the time the application is filed: If an alien is applying by means of a family-sponsored preference category, an employment-based category, or as a diversity immigrant, a decision must be made about whether a preference number is available for the alien regarding his country and the corresponding priority date.
Bars to an Adjustment of Status
The INA details a variety of situations in which an alien will not be granted an adjustment of status. These do not apply to an individual who qualifies as a VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) self-petitioner. Generally, if an alien is classified within one or more of the following categories, he will not be eligible for an adjustment of status:
- An alien crewman;
- An alien who continues in or accepts unauthorized employment prior to filing an application for adjustment of status, or who is currently in unlawful immigration status on the filing date of the application for adjustment of status, or who has failed to maintain a lawful status upon entry into the U.S.;
- An alien who was admitted in transit without a proper visa;
- An alien who was admitted as a nonimmigrant visitor without a proper visa;
- An alien who was admitted as a nonimmigrant described as unfavorable by the Attorney General based on involvement with a criminal enterprise;
- An alien who is deemed deportable due to terrorist activity;
- An alien who requests adjustment of status under an employment-based preference and is not in a lawful nonimmigrant status; or
- An alien who was employed while classified as an unauthorized alien, or who has otherwise violated the terms of a nonimmigrant visa.
What Happens After My Application is Filed?
After the I-485 application has been properly filed, the next step is generally receiving notice that you are to visit an Application Support Center in order to have your picture and signature taken and fingerprints collected.
This information will be kept on file and used in the event that you are approved for a green card, employment authorization, or an advance parole document.
If applicable, you will also be requested to be present for an interview at a USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) office. During the interview you will be required to verify under oath that all the information you provided in the application is honest and correct. Once this has been accomplished, you will receive the final decision regarding your adjustment of status application in the mail.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Immigration laws are detailed and often confusing. An experienced immigration attorney can help you make sense of it all and will provide you with competent representation in order for you to ensure that you have completed all the necessary steps to apply for adjustment of status.