Adjustment of Status

With adjustment of status, you can obtain a green card as a lawful permanent resident while remaining in the United States. While your application is being processed, you may be eligible to obtain employment authorization.

Immigrant visas that enable you to get a green card are issued in limited numbers each year, and in many categories, applicants have a significant wait for a visa to become available. To avoid mistakes that could cause your application to be set aside or denied, consider working with a skilled immigration attorney at American Dream™ Law Office when you apply for adjustment of status. We know how to demonstrate your qualifications and steer clear of practices that often cause problems when prospective immigrants apply for lawful permanent resident status.

Who Can Apply for Adjustment of Status?

Many foreign nationals currently living in the U.S. are not aware that they are eligible to seek adjustment of status to work and live permanently in the U.S. You might be able to apply if you are in the U.S. now and you are:

  • The immediate relative (spouse, parent, or unmarried minor child) of a U.S. citizen
  • Eligible for a family preference visa as the child or sibling of a U.S. citizen
  • Eligible for a family preference visa as the spouse or unmarried child of a lawful permanent resident
  • Eligible for an employment-based visa
  • A dependent of a qualifying visa applicant
  • Admitted as a refugee or granted asylum at least one year ago
  • A victim of certain crimes or abuse
  • A continuous resident of the U.S. since 1972

Note that anyone who entered the U.S. on a K-1 fiancé visa and does not marry the fiancé who filed the petition on their behalf cannot apply for adjustment of status even if they marry a different U.S. citizen or green card holder.

The Process of Seeking Adjustment of Status

To adjust your status to lawful permanent resident, you generally need a petition approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Your sponsor (often an employer or relative) files this petition on your behalf. If a visa is immediately available for you, it may be possible to file your application to adjust status at the same time as the petition. An immigration lawyer can tell you if you qualify for concurrent filing. Some victims and workers are able to petition on their own behalf.

After the petition has been approved by USCIS, you may need to wait until a visa becomes available in your category. (Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens do not have to wait because visas in that category are not limited by quotas.) Once you have been notified that a visa is available, you can file Form I-485 to adjust your status. 

Immigration authorities will review your documentation and ask for additional information. Then you will need to meet with officials for an interview to determine if you should be granted a visa. An experienced immigration lawyer can help you prepare for the interview and ensure that the information you supply throughout the process is not too vague or contradictory.

Frequently Asked Questions

Immigration law issues are complex, and clients usually have many questions, especially when they are first investigating their options. For basic reference, we’ve provided answers to some of the most common questions below, but we are happy to talk with you about the answers specific to your situation. 

What is permanent residence? 

Permanent residence is a legal status that allows you to live and work permanently in the U.S. Adjustment of status changes your legal status to that of a permanent resident. 

As a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR), you will have an identification card (green card) signaling your status and employment eligibility. With permanent resident status, you can petition to enable certain family members to also become permanent residents. You can eventually apply to become a citizen after you have held permanent resident status for the required length of time (assuming you meet the other requirements for citizenship). 

How do I apply for permanent residence using my marriage?

Marrying a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident is one of the quickest and least expensive ways to receive permanent residence because the U.S. government gives priority to foreign nationals married to citizens and LPRs. Individuals married to U.S. citizens are considered “immediate relatives,” so they do not need to wait for an immigrant visa. However, foreign citizens married to LPRs often have to wait for a visa to become available before they can complete the process of gaining permanent residence.

The first step in the process is for your spouse to file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You can also file a concurrent application to adjust your status to permanent resident if you are in the United States. If you are outside the United States, you will need to apply for a visa through the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country after USCIS approves your petition.

What is an immigration visa?

A visa is an endorsement on your passport that gives you permission to enter or leave a country. A U.S. immigration visa is a permanent visa that allows you to live and work in the U.S. for as long as you want. Only a small number of immigrant visas are available each year, and they are divided up by category and ranked by preference. 

Some applicants have a shorter wait for a visa because they have a close family relationship or other characteristics that put them in the higher preference category. Other applicants may have to wait much longer for a visa, particularly if they are coming from a country with a high rate of immigration. Working with an immigration attorney is one way to ensure that your application materials demonstrate your eligibility for the best available category. 

Can I apply for permanent residence through my job?

Permanent residence through employment is possible but depends on your background, the job, and your employer. Immigration visas enabling workers to receive permanent residence through employment fall into the following preference categories:

  • EB-1: This visa does not require a Labor Certification by the Department of Labor, so individuals may self-petition, but they must intend to continue working in their field. Professionals who can apply under this category include international managers and executives, outstanding professors and researchers, and persons with extraordinary ability in the arts and sciences.
  • EB-2: Applying for a visa in this category requires a Labor Certification unless the job is pre-certified or falls within the “national interest” requirements of the U.S. government. With a few exceptions, only individuals who have been offered jobs that require a master’s degree or higher or hold a bachelor’s degree with five years of employment experience can qualify.
  • EB-3: This visa category requires a Labor Certification and is reserved for jobs that require a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in work experience. It includes individuals who are skilled workers, professionals who hold a bachelor’s degree, or other workers who have two years of experience.
  • EB-4: Special immigrants, including religious workers and nationals of Afghanistan and Iraq who worked as translators with the US armed forces, are eligible to receive immigration visas under this category. Labor Certification is not required.
  • EB-5: Also known as the employment creation category, this visa category includes individuals who can gain permanent residence if they can create at least 10 jobs in the U.S. through a minimum investment of between $900,000 to $1.8 million (depending on the area) in a new commercial enterprise.

Can My Child Receive Permanent Residence With Me?

In many cases, your child can apply for permanent residence at the same time that you do. However, the opportunity is often limited to children who are unmarried and under the age of 21. An immigration attorney could review your situation and determine your child’s eligibility and the best way to apply for permanent residence based on the circumstances.

Can I receive permanent residence if I’m outside the U.S.?

Although you cannot apply for Adjustment of Status if you are physically outside the U.S., you can still obtain permanent residence through the procedure known as consular processing. Once USCIS has approved the immigration petition filed on your behalf, they forward your materials the U.S. State Department Visa Center for processing. The interview and other key parts of the process will be completed through the U.S. embassy or consulate in your home country. 

If I have a crime on my record, can I still apply for permanent residence?

Your ability to receive permanent residence will depend on several factors, but many people are able to obtain permanent residence despite having a crime on their records. It is a good idea to talk to an immigration lawyer, particularly if you have been charged with a crime but not yet convicted. Some plea arrangements commonly urged by defense attorneys can have a negative effect on your immigration status. 

Can I apply for permanent residence if I’m in immigration court?

Yes, absolutely. We have helped many immigrants apply for permanent residence in immigration court. 

What are the requirements for a visa and permanent residence?

The specific requirements to gain an immigration visa to become a permanent resident are different depending on the grounds for your eligibility. For instance, if you are applying for permanent residence on the basis of your marriage, you will need to demonstrate that your marriage is legally valid and represents a genuine marriage relationship. On the other hand, if you are applying for an EB-1 employment visa on the basis of extraordinary ability in  the arts, you will need to prove that your skills and achievements are internationally recognized.

In general, you will need to demonstrate good character, and show that you have not committed certain types of crimes that would make you inadmissible. Even if you have committed an action that would technically cause you to be considered inadmissible, however, you may still apply for a waiver to have that action overlooked by immigration authorities so that your visa can be approved. 

Find Out More About How American Dream Law Office Could Help You Adjust Your Status to Permanent Resident

For many people, adjustment of status to lawful permanent resident (with a green card identifying your status) represents the American Dream. That’s the foundation of our entire practice. At American Dream™ Law Office, we want to help others enjoy the same opportunities that we have found in the United States.

We know the process is not easy, and that’s why we offer assistance with many immigration issues, including adjustment of status to permanent resident. To learn more about how we could help in your case, contact us now for a confidential consultation.

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