A Guide on Adjustment of Status
Do you want to apply for lawful permanent residence in the U.S through the adjustment of status process? The Law Offices of Christopher Chaney can help
What Is an Adjustment of Status?
Immigration matters are often complex. There is a lot of terminology that can be confusing. If you are interested in the immigration process, you may wonder what is meant by the phrase “adjustment of status.” According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), you can change your immigration status from a nonimmigrant to an immigrant. This process is known as an adjustment of status (AOS).
Adjustment of status enables you to apply for lawful permanent resident status (Green Card) while in the United States. However, you must be present in the U.S. on a valid visa.
You do not have to return to your home country after your visa expires. You can remain in the U.S. until the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes your application.
If you are abroad, however, you must get your visa in your home country through consular processing. That may involve getting a visa and then a green card. The AOS process can be complex and may require the knowledge of a green card lawyer in Los Angeles. The Law Offices of Christopher Chaney can help.
Adjustment of Status Eligibility
To begin the AOS process, you must file Form I-485 (Application to register permanent residence or adjust status). However, to file Form I-485, you need to meet the eligibility requirements. Your eligibility for Form I-485 will vary depending on your reason for applying for a green card.
You might be able to adjust your status under one of the following categories:
- Special immigrant
- Refugee or asylee status
- Human trafficking and crime victims
- Victims of abuse
Who Is Not Eligible for Adjustment of Status?
There are several scenarios in which a person would be ineligible for an adjustment of status. According to section 245 (c), you cannot file Form I-485 if:
- You entered the U.S. as an alien crewman
- You are in unauthorized employment or without lawful immigration status (unless you qualify for 245K relief)
- You are in transit without a visa
- You are a nonimmigrant visitor without a visa
- You have a nonimmigrant status
- You are deportable
- You were admitted to the U.S. as a witness or informant
- You are seeking a green card without lawful nonimmigrant status
Additionally, you cannot adjust your status if you are inadmissible under one of the categories in Section 212 of the INA.
What Is the Adjustment of Status Process?
There are several steps to applying for AOS A skilled attorney can help you do the following:
File AOS Form
Your green card sponsor must file Form I-130 (Petition for alien relative) with the USCIS on your behalf. Form I-130 is used to prove your relationship with a U.S. citizen or green card holder. If you apply for an employment-based green card, your U.S. employer must file a Form I-140 immigrant petition.
You must send the required supporting documents with your application for each of these forms. The adjustment of status cost may vary based on your age.
If you are under 14 and filing with a parent, the filing fee is $750.
If you are between 14-78, the filing fee is $1,140.
If you are required to pay a biometric services fee, it is an additional $85.
File Form I-485 Once USCIS Approves I-130 Petition
After the USCIS approves the Form I-130 petition, you must file Form I-485. You may only file Form I-485 if you have a visa number immediately available. You may use the U.S. Department of State’s visa bulletin to check your visa availability.
There is no green card cap for the family members or immediate relatives of U.S. citizens. So, they may apply for their green card immediately after Form I-130 is approved. If you want to work in the U.S. while awaiting your green card, you must file Form I-765 and Form I-485 to get employment authorization.
If you are eligible, you may file Form I-130 and I-485 together through concurrent filing. This enables the USCIS to review your green card application and your sponsor’s petition. Therefore, you do not have to wait for the USCIS approval of Form I-130 before submitting Form I-485.
Attend a Biometrics Appointment and Green Card Interview
After submitting your green card application, the USCIS may require you to attend a biometrics appointment. Your fingerprints, photograph, and signature will be taken at the appointment. The USCIS may also conduct background and criminal history checks with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
You may be required to attend a green card interview at a USCIS office. You must bring the original of all documentation submitted with the Form I-485 application. This includes your passport, birth certificate, official travel documents, and Form I-94.
The USCIS may request that the family member who filed the AOS application attend the interview. At the interview, the USCIS official will ask questions about your application. For instance, if you apply for a marriage green card, they will ask questions about your relationship.
It may be beneficial to consult with an immigration attorney to prepare for this interview
USCIS Decision on Your Green Card Application
Shortly after your green card interview, you will receive a decision on your AOS application. The USCIS may approve or deny your adjustment of status application. An approval notice means you will receive your green card document in the mail.
If you applied for a marriage green card and your marriage is less than two years, you may receive a conditional green card.
The USCIS may deny your application for various reasons. Some of these reasons include:
You submitted an incorrect or incomplete AOS application.
You paid the wrong filing fees.
You provided inadequate evidence or supporting documentation.
You are ineligible to adjust your status.
You committed a criminal offense that made you inadmissible after filing the AOS application.
You failed to attend your biometric appointment or interview.
If you fail to include all the necessary documents or sign your application, you can send a new application with the corrections.
If the USCIS denies your green card application, you will no longer have lawful status. So, you must prepare to leave the U.S. as soon as possible. If you accrue unlawful presence, you may be placed in removal proceedings (deportation).
Can You Travel Outside the U.S. While Your Adjustment of Status Application Is Pending?
Traveling outside the U.S. while your adjustment of status application is pending can be risky and is generally not recommended unless you have obtained an Advance Parole document. Without this document, a foreign national risks abandoning their application, according to U.S. immigration laws.
If you leave the U.S. without Advance Parole, you may not be allowed to re-enter on a temporary visa, such as a tourist visa, and would need to restart the green card process through consular processing in your home country.
However, if you have an employment authorization document that allows for travel (often combined with Advance Parole), you may be able to travel and return without affecting your pending application.
Always consult with an immigration law expert or USCIS officer before making travel plans. It’s also crucial to check visa availability and ensure that your approved immigrant petition remains valid during your travel.
What Happens If the Adjustment of Status Application Is Denied?
If your application for adjusting status to become a legal permanent resident is denied, the consequences can be severe. You may be required to leave the U.S. immediately, and in some cases, you might be barred from re-entry for several years.
The denial could be due to various reasons, such as failing the immigration medical examination, not meeting green card eligibility criteria, or not providing additional evidence when requested.
In the event of a denial, you have the option to file an appeal or a motion to reopen or reconsider the case. However, this can be a lengthy and complicated process. Alternatively, you may also opt for consular processing, where you complete the immigrant visa process in your home country.
It’s crucial to consult an immigration lawyer to understand your options and the best course of action based on your specific circumstances.
Why Should You Contact an Immigration Attorney?
Applying for a green card may be a challenging and time-consuming process. You cannot recover the filing fees if the USCIS denies your AOS application. If deported, you may lose valuable time with your loved ones in the United States. Therefore, it is recommended that you seek guidance from a knowledgeable attorney at the Law Offices of Christopher Chaney.
As immigration lawyers in Los Angeles, we help our clients prepare for their AOS interviews and collect supporting evidence in advance. We are an established law firm. We work hard to give you a greater chance of obtaining a green card.
If you are ineligible to apply for a green card, we can advise you on other routes that may allow you to legally remain in the country. Our Russian immigration lawyer can help our Russian clients understand the immigration process.
For answers to your questions about adjusting your status, contact our law office today. We look forward to hearing from you!