Navigating U.S. immigration law to adjust status can be daunting, especially for non-native English speakers. Our guide provides essential information and eligibility requirements to avoid errors and ensure success. Let's dive in and help you navigate the application process.
What Is Adjustment of Status?
Adjustment of Status (AOS) is applying for a green card in the United States. It allows you to stay in the country while your application is processed, even if your visa expires. Alternatively, consular processing requires applying for a green card outside the United States, where your nearest U.S. consulate or embassy will process it. During this process, you'll remain outside the United States until your green card is approved. These are the two primary ways to apply for a green card; knowing which one is right for you will depend on your circumstances.
Eligibility to File an Adjustment of Status (AOS)
Eligibility for Adjustment of Status (AOS) is a crucial factor when applying for a green card from within the United States. You must understand the requirements when you use them and ensure that you meet them to avoid any setbacks or rejection of your application.
One of the most important eligibility requirements is to be eligible for an immigrant visa. It means you must have a qualifying family relationship or an employer sponsor or qualify through a humanitarian program such as refugee or asylee status. In addition, you must be physically present in the United States when applying and have entered the country legally.
Another critical requirement for AOS is that you must have maintained lawful nonimmigrant status during your stay in the United States. It means that you must have entered the country with a valid visa and have complied with the terms of that visa. If you have violated your status, your application may be denied.
In addition, you must not have committed any crimes that would make you ineligible for AOS. Crimes such as drug offenses, domestic violence, and crimes involving moral turpitude may make you ineligible for AOS. It is important to note that even if you have committed a crime, you may still be eligible for AOS if you can obtain a waiver of inadmissibility.
You must also be admissible to the United States. It means that you must not have committed any acts that would make you inadmissible, such as fraud or misrepresentation, health-related or security-related grounds. If you are found to be unacceptable, you may be able to obtain a waiver of inadmissibility, depending on the circumstances.
Finally, you must have an approved immigrant petition. It means someone, such as a family member or employer, must have filed a petition on your behalf. That petition must have been approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Meeting the eligibility requirements for AOS is critical for a successful green card application from within the United States. Understanding these requirements and ensuring that you meet them will help to avoid any setbacks or rejection of your application. Suppose you have any questions about your eligibility or the AOS process. In that case, it is recommended that you consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can guide you through the application process.
Find Out What Is 90-Day Rule
Adjustment of Status (AOS) is an option for individuals eligible to apply for a green card from within the United States. Several categories of individuals may be eligible for AOS, including those who hold a nonimmigrant visa or those who have entered the United States through a family-based or employment-based immigrant visa.
For those who hold a nonimmigrant visa, such as an H-1B or F-1 visa, AOS may be an option if they are sponsored by an employer or family member and meet all other eligibility requirements. This option allows them to remain in the United States while their application is being processed and avoid the need to leave the country for consular processing.
For those who have entered the United States through a family-based or employment-based immigrant visa, AOS may be an option if they are physically present in the United States when they file their application and meet all other eligibility requirements. This option allows them to adjust their status to that of a lawful permanent resident without having to leave the country.
In addition, those who have entered the United States on a K-1 or marriage visa may also be eligible for AOS. However, it is essential to note the 90-day rule, which requires the individual to marry their U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of entering the United States. Please comply with this rule to avoid ineligibility for AOS.
Who Can't Apply for Adjustment of Status?
Only some people can file for an Adjustment of Status (AOS). The following are some examples of individuals who are not eligible:
- Individuals who entered the U.S. without inspection;
- Individuals who are currently in lawful status but violated the terms of their nonimmigrant visa;
- Individuals who are in removal proceedings;
- Individuals who are outside of the U.S. and do not have a valid immigrant visa;
- Individuals who have certain criminal convictions;
- Individuals who have committed immigration fraud or misrepresentation.
It is essential to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to determine eligibility for AOS and explore alternative options.
Documents Requirements for Adjustment of Status
Adjustment of Status (AOS) requires specific documents to be submitted with the application.
A passport-style photograph is one of the documents required for Adjustment of Status (AOS). The photo must be 2x2 inches and have been taken within the past six months. The picture must be in color, with a white or off-white background, and the applicant must face the camera directly with a neutral expression. Hats or head coverings are only allowed if worn daily for religious purposes, and you can wear your glasses as long as there is no glare from the lenses.
Adjustment of Status (AOS) requires a government-issued photo identification, such as a passport or driver's license, and an Alien Registration Number (ARN) if the applicant has been issued one.
Certificate of Birth
As part of the Adjustment of Status (AOS) application, the applicant must provide a copy of their birth certificate. A certified translation is necessary if the birth certificate is not in English. In some instances, such as when the birth certificate is unavailable, or the applicant was born abroad to U.S. citizen parents, alternative documentation such as a Consular Report of Birth Abroad (CRBA) may be accepted. It is essential to consult with an immigration attorney to ensure all necessary documentation is submitted with the AOS application.
Documents: Inspected, Admitted, Paroled
When filing for Adjustment of Status (AOS), applicants must provide evidence that they were inspected, admitted, or paroled into the United States. It means they entered the country legally, with a valid visa, or through another authorized entry point. Examples of documents that can provide this evidence include Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, a passport containing an admission stamp, or a transportation letter. Provide sufficient proof of lawful entry to avoid denying an AOS application.
Here are some documents that may be required when filing for an Adjustment of Status:
- Documentation of your immigrant category: This can typically be established with a copy of Form I-797, Approval Notice, or Receipt Notice for your petition.
- Marriage certificate and other proof of relationship: If you're filing Form I-485 as the spouse of the principal application, you must typically submit a copy of your marriage certificate. If either party in the marriage was previously married, USCIS requires you to present evidence showing all earlier marriages were legally ended.
- Evidence of continuously maintaining a lawful status since arriving in the United States: Several documents can help you prove you maintained legal status, including:
- Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record;
- Employment authorization documents (EADs);
- Form I-20;
- Certificate of Eligibility for Nonimmigrant Student Status;
- Form DS-2019;
- Certificate of Eligibility for Exchange Visitor Status.
- Affidavit of Support/confirmation of bona fide job offer: USCIS requires an affidavit of support from either an employer, relative, fiancé(e), or an employment-based visa if the business is at least 5% owned by a relative.
- Evidence of financial support: To demonstrate financial aid, you must likely complete Form I-864, Affidavit of Support.
- Report of medical examination and vaccination record: Nearly all green card applicants will have to undergo a medical examination to ensure no health concerns. The exams have to be done by a USCIS-approved civil surgeon.
- Certified police and court records of criminal charges, arrests, or convictions: USCIS requires all applicants to report any criminal charges, arrests, or beliefs they may have on their roster, even when they were a minor. In most cases, you do not need to submit information relating to traffic violations that didn't involve a physical arrest and if the penalty was less than $500 or points on your driver's license.
- Waiver of inadmissibility: Certain immigrants can be inadmissible to the United States by determining their inadmissibility for several reasons. However, there is a way to become admissible through form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility.
Remember, not all of these documents may be necessary for your application. Always double-check to ensure you remember all critical information before you file.
How to Apply for Adjustment of Status?
The Adjustment of Status process allows eligible foreign nationals to obtain a green card from within the United States. Here is a step-by-step guide to help you navigate the process:
- Determine eligibility: Review the eligibility criteria to determine whether you qualify to file an Adjustment of Status application.
- File Form I-485: Complete Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Submit it along with the required documents and fee.
- Wait for a biometrics appointment: USCIS will schedule one for you once your application is processed. Your fingerprints, photograph, and signature will be taken at the meeting.
- Attend the interview: After your biometrics appointment, you will be scheduled for an interview. You will be asked questions about your background, family, and qualifications during the interview. The USCIS officer will also review your application and supporting documents.
- Receive decision: If your application is approved, you will receive a green card in the mail within a few weeks. If your application is denied, you may be able to file an appeal or motion to reopen or reconsider the decision.
Note that the Adjustment of Status process can take several months or even years to complete, depending on your situation and the backlog of applications. By taking the necessary precautions, you can increase your chances of successfully obtaining a green card through the Adjustment of Status process.
Adjustment of Status Fee
The Adjustment of Status application fee varies depending on the applicant's age, category, and other factors. For most applicants, the Adjustment of the status fee is $1,140, which includes the $1,130 Form I-485 filing fee and the $85 biometric services fee. However, specific categories of applicants may be eligible for reduced or waived fees, such as refugees and asylum seekers, applicants under the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and certain military personnel.
It's important to note that the Adjustment of Status fee is non-refundable, even if your application is denied or withdrawn. Please see the table below for a breakdown based on age.
What Is Adjustment of Status Timeline?
Adjusting your status to obtain a green card can be long and challenging. The exact Adjustment of Status timeline depends on various factors such as your visa type, your immigration category, and where in the United States you apply. On average, the Adjustment of Status processing time can take one to three years. It is essential to remember that the process is often lengthy due to the high volume of applicants and the detailed review of each application.
For instance, applying for a marriage green card through Adjustment of Status can take anywhere between 12-27 months, depending on whether your spouse is a U.S. citizen or a green card holder. Similarly, if you are adjusting your status after obtaining a K-1 visa, the timeline could take longer, depending on your situation. However, you can use the USCIS tool to check the estimated processing times based on the type of form you are filing.
Track the Application Status Online
To check the status of your Adjustment of Status application, you can use the USCIS website. It provides a way to see where your case stands at any time.
What Is Next?
After your Adjustment of Status (AOS) application is approved, you will receive your Green Card through the mail. The Green Card is your proof of legal permanent residency in the United States, granting you the right to live and work there. You should receive your Green Card within two to three weeks after approval. If you are still waiting to receive it within this timeframe, you can contact USCIS to inquire about the status of your Green Card.
It is important to note that you will need to renew your Green Card every ten years, and you may also need to renew it if there are changes to your personal information, such as name or address. Additionally, if you commit certain crimes or violate specific immigration laws, revoking your Green Card can happen, and you could face deportation. Therefore, it is crucial to abide by U.S. laws and regulations and maintain your legal status as a permanent resident.
What If Adjustment of Status Application Is Rejected?
If your Adjustment of Status (AOS) application has been disapproved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), your application has been denied. It means you are not eligible to receive a green card through the AOS process. The USCIS will provide you with the reasons for the denial in a written notice that you will receive in the mail.
There are several reasons why an AOS application may be denied, such as failure to provide the required documentation or information, a criminal history, or a lack of eligibility for the particular immigrant category you are applying for. In some cases, you may have the option to file an appeal or motion to reopen or reconsider the decision, but this depends on the specific circumstances of your case.
If your AOS application has been disapproved, it is essential to seek legal advice from an experienced immigration attorney. They can help you determine your options, including whether to file an appeal or reapply for the green card through other means.
Go Through the Adjustment of Status Process with Simvisa
Applying for an Adjustment of Status is a complex process that can take a long time. The timeline for approval varies, and the outcome is sometimes uncertain.
At SimVisa, our team of immigration attorneys has years of experience helping clients navigate the Adjustment of Status process. We understand the system's complexities and will work tirelessly to ensure that your application is complete and submitted correctly. If you need help with your AOS application, contact our immigration attorneys today.
Do I need a travel permit while the Adjustment of Status is processed?
If you have an Adjustment of Status application pending with USCIS, you can travel outside the United States, but you must obtain a travel permit. Otherwise, your application will be deemed abandoned. A travel permit, also known as Advance Parole, allows you to re-enter the United States while your Adjustment of Status application is being processed.
Can I work while waiting for AOS?
You can work while waiting for your AOS if you have a valid work permit. Once your AOS application is pending with USCIS, you can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), allowing you to work legally in the United States. In contrast, your AOS application is being processed.