Adjustment of status is a procedure by which foreign nationals who are already living in the U.S. may apply for Lawful Permanent Resident status.
This status is typically applied for by someone who is in the U.S. illegally, for a number of reasons, including having overstayed their visa. Adjustment of status allows that person to apply for a green card without having to return to their country of origin and restart the residency application process.
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Who is Eligible for Adjustment of Status?
There are numerous categories of persons who are eligible to apply for (not necessarily receive-this will be determined by a variety of factors during the application process) adjustment status. Some of these categories are:
- Someone who came to the U.S. on a work visa and is being sponsored for a green card;
- Someone who came to the U.S. with a visa to visit their fiancé, and who married their fiancé before their visa expired; and
- Someone who received asylum in the U.S.
Who is Ineligible for Adjustment of Status?
The following are some of the categories of people who are ineligible:
- Someone who entered the U.S., in transit, without a visa;
- Someone who entered the U.S. without being inspected and admitted by an immigration officer;
- Someone who entered on a visa waiver (from a country that has a visa waiver agreement with the U.S.); and/or
- Someone who has worked in the U.S. while here illegally.
In some cases, even if a person falls into one of the ineligibility categories, they will still be eligible to apply for adjustment of status because of their connection to someone in the U.S. For example, such a person who has an immediate relative who is a U.S. citizen can still be eligible.
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How Can I Apply for an Adjustment of Status?
Those wishing to apply must fill out the proper form, I-485. Other forms and documentations will likely be required, including a medical exam certificate, passport-style color photos and any necessary fees. The applicant must also provide proof of their eligibility for permanent resident status, for example, the certificate from their marriage to a U.S. citizen.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Apply for Adjustment of Status?
A local immigration lawyer can assist you with understanding immigration laws, completing the application process correctly, meeting any deadlines and with possibly improving your chances of gaining permanent resident status via a complex process.