Obtaining lawful permanent residency (LPR) is one of the most important steps toward remaining permanently in the United States. LPR status must be attained before one can become a U.S. citizen. After a non-resident has been granted immigrant status, they may apply to adjust to permanent resident status.
Adjustment of status refers to the process of obtaining permanent residency without leaving the U.S. The applicant must demonstrate one of the following:
- They have a familial relationship with a permanent resident
- They have a familial relationship with a U.S. citizen
- They have a job offer which will not displace another U.S. worker.
Next, the applicant must establish they:
- Were inspected, then and admitted or paroled into the United States
- There is an immigrant visa immediately available at the time their application is filed
- Had lawful status at the time of the filing
- Are otherwise eligible for admission to the United States
- Have not engaged in unauthorized employment after January 1, 1997
- An adjustment of status should be granted
A non-resident may be eligible to apply if:
- Family Member – The alien is the spouse, parent, unmarried child who is under 21, or one of several other eligible familial titles.
- Employment – The alien has an approved visa petition filed on his behalf by a U.S. employer.
- Fiancé – The non-resident was admitted on a K-1 Fiancé visa and then married the U.S. citizen who applied for the K-1 visa on their behalf.
- Refugee or Asylee – The applicant is a refugee or asylee who has been in the U.S. for at least a year after being given refugee or asylee status.
- Diversity Visa – The applicant has won a visa in the diversity visa lottery. Each year, the Diversity Lottery Program has made 50,000 visas available through a lottery from countries with low rates of immigration.
An applicant may be deemed ineligible to apply for adjustment of status of LPR for a number of reasons. Some common reasons include:
- They entered the U.S. while in transit to another country without obtaining a visa
- They were not admitted or paroled into the U.S. after inspection by Immigration
- They are employed in the U.S. without United States Citizenship and Immigration Services authorization
- They are no longer legally in the country
There are many other reasons why you would be ineligible, which are spelled out in Form I-485.
Seeking an adjustment of status from immigrant to lawful permanent resident can be complicated and difficult. It is extremely important to seek the advice of a qualified immigration attorney before attempting to adjust status or submitting anything to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. A lawyer will be able to explain the nuances of the law to you, and help you avoid delays or unintended consequences of failing to do something or doing something incorrectly.