Adjustment of status is the common term for the change of an individual’s immigration status from non-immigrant (temporary) to immigrant (permanent). The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) permits this change if the individual was inspected and admitted or paroled into the U.S. and meets all required qualifications for a green card, or permanent residence.
Adjustment of status does not require an eligible individual to return to their home country to complete visa processing.
Steps for Adjustment of Status:
1. Determine Basis to Immigrate
This is when you must determine which specific immigrant category applies to you. Some immigrants become eligible for a green card through a petition that is filed by an employer or family member on your behalf. Others become permanent residents by first obtaining refugee or asylum status, or through other special provisions.
– Family Based: requires that a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative file a form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for you.
– Employment Based:This will often require the intending U.S. employer to file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, for you. Entrepreneurs who intend to invest significant amounts of capital into a business venture in the United States may file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur” on their own behalf.
– Special Classes Of Immigrants: Certain immigrants may file a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), and Special Immigrant, or have one filed on their behalf.
– Humanitarian Programs: Most humanitarian programs do not require an underlying petition, although individuals may need to meet additional requirements before they can adjust status.
2. File Immigrant Petition
Once you determine which category applies to you, you will need to file a petition. This can be submitted on your behalf by a third party. Depending on the category that you will adjust under, you may be eligible to have the petition filed at the same time that you file your Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, which is called ‘concurrent filing.’ If you are an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen, you may have the option to file concurrently, but most categories require that you first establish eligibility for a category by submitting an approved petition before submitting your Form I-485.
3. Check Visa Availability
Until a Via is available in your category, you cannot file your Form I-485. You may be able to apply for permanent residence status if your immigrant visa is currently available to you.
4. File Form I-485
Regardless of if a petition must be filed and approved before or concurrently with your Form I-485, you need to apply on this form at the appropriate time. You must read the I-485 form instructions very carefully and include all necessary documents and evident that is required for your specific category.
5. Application Support Center appointment
Once you have filed your application, you will be contacted and ordered to appear at an Application Support Center, where they will take your picture and fingerprints, and get your signature. This information is used to conduct required security checks and the creation of a green card, employment authorization or advance parole document.
You may or may not be required by the USCIS to attend an interview where you will answer questions under oath or affirmation regarding your application and all included documents and information. When you receive a notice for an interview, you must attend, along with anyone who filed any forms on your behalf.
7. Final Decision
After all documents have been received and information has been evaluated, your case will go to the USCIS for decision. You will be notified of this decision in writing via mail.
To check your status or for other immigration-related questions, you may call the USCIS National Customer Service Center (NCSC) at 1-800-375-5283. You should be prepared to provide the USCIS representative with specific information about your application, such as your receipt number, Alien Registration Number, name and date of birth.
If you are denied an adjustment of status, your decision notice will include information on your right to appeal. Generally, if your decision can be appealed, you must file the appeal within 30 days of the service of the decision. You may also be able to file a Motion to Reopen or Reconsider. Both appeals and motions are filed on Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion.
Whether you are a documented or undocumented immigrant in the U.S., it is important to know your legal rights. Contact a Phoenix Immigration lawyer at Maria Jones Law Firm today.
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