Adjustment Of Status In The United States – A Primer
This article discusses:
- What an Adjustment of Status is
- The steps of an Adjustment of Status
- What documentation is required for an Adjustment of Status
What Is Adjustment Of Status?
There are multiple eligibility categories for Adjustment of Status in the United States. Adjustment of Status is where a foreign national has a valid nonimmigrant status and a basis for applying for U.S. permanent residency. The adjuster changes their status from a lawful nonimmigrant status to an immigrant in lawful permanent resident status.
There is an exception to being in lawful nonimmigrant status: if you are married to a U.S. citizen, you do not have to be in lawful non-immigrant status because violations of stay or work authorization are essentially waived or excused. This means your application to adjust your status is based on marriage to a U.S. citizen. However, one of the obstacles to that exception for marriage to U.S. citizens is how you entered the U.S. initially. If you were not inspected, meaning that you entered the U.S. without the knowledge or being questioned by a U.S. immigration official or Customs Border Patrol, then you are not able to adjust your status. However, there are exceptions to this as well, via the 601 waiver process. This complex immigration application is approved on a very specific case-by-case basis and thus should be done in consultation with an attorney.
What Is The Difference Between An Immigration Petition And An Adjustment Of Status?
An immigrant petition establishes your right to apply for the Adjustment of Status. For example, form I-130 shows a family relationship between a foreign national and a U.S. citizen or a Lawful U.S. Permanent Resident. Another example, the I-140, is an immigrant petition to show a valid offer of employment as the basis for applying for Adjustment of Status. The immigrant petition establishes the relationship, whether family-based or employment-based, that will then give the basis for applying for Adjustment of Status.
What Are The Steps For Adjustment Of Status?
You first must file an immigrant petition. In some cases, an Adjustment of Status can be filed concurrently with an immigrant petition, whereas it cannot in other cases. Whether or not Adjustment of Status can be filed concurrently with the immigrant petition, is based on multiple factors, such as visa availability determined by what country you are from, the specific employment-based classification of the work-related reason for Adjustment of Status, or the type of family relationship to the U.S. citizen or U.S. Permanent Resident. In some cases, an interview is necessary before the final adjudication of the Adjustment of Status. A medical examination is also required with every Adjustment of Status petition. Beyond this, there are many other supporting documents that you must submit.
If An Immigration Petition Has Been Approved On My Behalf And I Am In The U.S., Why Do I Still Need To File An Adjustment Of Status Application?
The immigration petition and Adjustment of Status are two separate processes. One establishes the basis for adjusting your status, and the other is the actual Adjustment of Status.
The immigrant petition looks at the relationship, whether it is employment or familial. The Adjustment of Status petition examines you more thoroughly to determine, among other things, whether there are grounds for inadmissibility. It examines things like your relationships, the organizations you belong to, and your police record. It is a comprehensive analysis of you as an individual, whereas the immigrant petition analyzes the relationship that allows you to apply to adjust your status.
Do I Need A Criminal Record Certificate From My Home Country For Adjustment Of Status?
Although it will depend on how long you have been in the U.S., in general, you will need to submit a criminal record certificate from not only your home country, but any country in which you have resided.
Where Should I File My Adjustment Of Status Application?
Depending on whether you are filing your Adjustment of Status application concurrently with the immigrant petition will determine where you need to file it, but it is usually filed at a lockbox location. It is then transferred to a specific service center based on where you reside in the United States.
Do I Need An Attorney’s Assistance To Adjust My Status? Can I Do It Myself?
You can adjust your status yourself. Many immigration matters are designed for individuals to apply without legal assistance.
It is worth noting that, although it may be designed this way, the reality often does not live up to the ideal. Certain USCIS instructions may not fully, if at all, express certain nuances and leave you uncertain on how best to proceed. Also, you may not be aware how your specific factual circumstances may negatively impact your application. Finally, adjudication patterns and other things that an attorney that practices immigration law may be aware of due to other petitions that they file, is something that may work against you if you do not have comparable experience. You should feel empowered to file the Immigrant Adjustment of Status petition on your own, and there may be no need for an attorney, but there are circumstances or specific cases where an attorney can be of assistance.
How Long Will I Have To Wait Before My Adjustment Of Status Is Approved?
Processing time for status adjustment varies case by case and your geographic location.
The USCIS has a website that informs applicants of the current processing time for applications. Currently, adjustment status based on the service center ranges from 15 to 18 and a half months, but this changes frequently. The website is updated roughly every month.
To do this, go to USCIS.gov and look for processing times, then select the specific form number and service center where your petition is being filed to see the current processing time.
If you would like more information on Adjustment of Status In The United States, contact an experienced attorney that practices immigration law such as Taylor & Associates Law P.C. You may get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (888) 912-5152 today.
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