Under immigration laws, a change of status allows a non-citizen alien to live permanently in the United States. The person will have their temporary residence status changed into lawful permanent resident status. This will grant them other civil rights as well. This is process is also known as "adjustment of status."

There are various requirements for an adjustment of status, and not everyone is eligible for the process. Also, there may be a limited amount of permanent visa slots that are granted in each particular year. "Change of status" can also refer to the process of changing from one type of visa to another type.

How Can I Obtain a Change of Status?

In order to obtain a change of status or an adjustment of status, the applicant must specifically file a request with the U.S. immigration authorities. In other words, the process in not generally granted in an automatic way. The person must also meet various requirements, such as:

  • There must be a permanent visa slot available for the applicant that year
  • Various immigration forms, including Form I-485, must be completed
  • The applicant must not be in the country illegally
  • The applicant must not have worked illegally in the U.S.

Also, the applicant might not be available for a change of status if they have entered the country using a visa waiver, or under similar special circumstances. A change of status is typically granted to persons who have travelled to the U.S. on a temporary visa such as a marriage visa or certain types of work visas and are looking to relocate permanently in the country.

What if I Have Been Denied a Change of Status?

In some cases, it might be possible to appeal a request for a change of status that has been denied. This of course depends on the reasons why the person was denied the adjustment of status in the first place.

For instance, an appeal or review of an application might not be available if the applicant was disqualified due to a recent criminal record. This is especially true if the criminal charges were very serious or if the person might be facing a removal hearing in the future. On the other hand, if the application was denied because the person accidentally failed to include a document in their application, it might be possible to have their case reviewed. However, it’s important that applications for a change of status be completed when they are submitted.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Change of Status?

Changing your immigration status can sometimes involve a detailed and complex application process. You will need to provide proof of various facts, such as your employment, residential history, and current immigration status. You may wish to hire an immigration lawyer if you need help with an immigration change of status. Your attorney can assist you with the process and can help review your application to ensure that it’s complete. Also, your lawyer can represent you if you need to attend a hearing or an interview.