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Adjustment of Status (AOS)

A basic overview of the Process is provided here. If you have further inquiries as to the application process or whether or not this is the correct route for your needs, please don't hesitate to contact us.

General

Adjustment of Status (AOS) is the process allowing eligible foreign nationals currently in the United States to apply for lawful permanent resident status (known as a green card) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

It should be noted that visa numbers are limited for certain family members of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (LPRs) as well as for employment-based cases. Even if USCIS approves am immigrant visa petition, it may not be the case that an immigrant visa number is immediately granted. In some cases it may be that several years could pass between the time USCIS approves an immigrant visa petition and the Department of State (DOS) gives an individual his or her immigrant visa number.

Requirements

The following categories of individuals may be eligible to apply for AOS. If an applicant is outside the U.S., he or she must apply through consular processing.

Furthermore, immigration law requires that all individuals applying for AOS be vaccinated for mumps, measles, rubella, polio, tetanus, diphtheria toxoids, pertussis, influenza type B, hepatitis B and any others recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP).

Immediate Relatives of U.S. citizens

An immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or LPR may apply for AOS to permanent residence under the following conditions.

  • The spouse, unmarried child (under twenty-one years old) or parent of a U.S. citizen.
  • The individual has an approved family-based immigrant petition or can file one concurrently with his or her AOS application.

Beneficiaries of Family-based immigrant petitions

A beneficiary of a family-based immigrant petition may apply for AOS if the following are satisfied:

  • An approved family-based immigrant petition.
  • A current priority date available for AOS filing.

Beneficiaries of Employment-Based Green Card Petitions

An employment-based green card petition beneficiary may apply for AOS if the following are met:

  • An approved labor certification or exemption from such labor certification requirement.
  • An approved employment-based immigrant petition.
  • A current priority date available for AOS filing.

Dependents of Principal Application preference categories

An individual may be eligible to receive following-to-join benefits if he or she is the spouse or unmarried child (under twenty-one years of age) of a principal applicant in a preference category. In these cases an individual may apply for AOS at the same time that his or her spouse or parent applies for following-to-join benefits on the individual's behalf.

Dependents of LPRs

An LPR's dependent may apply for AOS if the following criteria are met:

  • The dependent is a spouse or unmarried child (under twenty-one years of age) of an LPR.
  • The individual possesses an approved family-based immigrant petition.
  • A current priority date is available for AOS filing.

U.S. Citizens’ Spouses who have entered the U.S. on K-1 fiancé(e) Visa

An individual may apply for AOS if the individual is a fiancé(e) who was admitted to the U.S. on a K-1 visa and subsequently married the U.S. citizen who applied for the K-1 visa on the individual's behalf. Unmarried children under twenty-one years old are also eligible for AOS.

If the individual did not marry the described U.S. citizen or married another U.S. citizen or LPR, the individual is not eligible for AOS. If the individual did marry the U.S. citizen, but not within the ninety-day time limit, the individual's spouse must file a USCIS Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative.

Asylees or Refugees in the U.S.

Asylees or refugees residing within the U.S. may apply for AOS if they were granted that status at least one year before filing.

Cuban Citizens residing in the U.S.

Cuban citizens may apply for AOS if they have been in the U.S. for at least one year after being inspected, admitted or paroled into the U.S. A Cuban citizen's spouse and children residing with him or her in the U.S. may also be eligible for AOS.

Foreign Nationals continuously residing in the U.S. since January 1st, 1972

A foreign national may apply for AOS if he or she has been a continuous resident of the U.S. since before the date of January 1, 1972.

Steps in Applying for Adjustment of Status

While such a process may vary for differently situated individuals, the following steps may generally be following in applying for AOS:

  1. Determine your immigrant category and eligibility.
    • As somewhat described above, an individual seeking an AOS should determine what immigrant category they may qualify under in addition to their specific eligibility under that category.
  2. File an immigrant petition.
    • Most individuals seeking an AOS are required to complete at least an immigrant petition along with their green card application. In most circumstances a sponsor is necessary for filling out the petition on the applicant's behalf, though this is not true in all cases. The forms required can be found on USCIS's website.
    • An individual generally must have an approved immigrant petition before he or she can file the Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. However, in what is termed "concurrent filing," some categories may allow applicants to file their Form I-485 simultaneously with their immigrant petition, or while it is pending. Furthermore, some immigrant categories do not require an underlying immigrant petition.
  3. Check for visa availability.
  4. File the Form I-485.
    • he form and its general instructions may be found here.
  5. Attend the Application Support Center appointment.
    • fter an individual files the Form I-485, USCIS will mail a notice for a biometrics services appointment at the applicant's local Application Support Center (ASC) to provide fingerprints, a photograph and/or a signature in order to verify the individual's identity as well as conduct the required background and security checks.  
  6. Attend an interview (if required). 
    • Unless USCIS decides otherwise, the applicant will be scheduled for an interview at a USCIS office to answer questions regarding his or her Form I‑485. The individual and his or her sponsor (if applicable) must bring the originals of all the documentation submitted with the Form I-485 application.
  7. Respond to a request for evidence if one is issued.
    • If USCIS submits a request for evidence (RFE) in response to the Form I-485, the request itself will indicate what evidence is needed as well as where to send it and the required response date.
  8. Receive the decision.
    • If USCIS approves application, the individual will generally receive an approval notice first and the actual Permanent Resident Card (Green Card) some time later.
    • If the application is denied, the decision notice will explain the reasons in addition to whether or not the individual may appeal the decision. This is usually not the case in AOS applications, though an individual may still be eligible to file a motion to reopen or reconsider (Form I-290B, Notice of Appeal or Motion).

One's case status may be checked online or by calling the National Customer Service Center at 800-375-5283 or, for those with disabilities, (TTY) 800-767-1833, (VRS) 877-709-5797, or (VCO) 877-709-5801. Applicants should be prepared with specific information such as their receipt number, A-Number, name and date of birth.

Ineligibility For USCIS Adjustment of Status

An individual may be ineligible for AOS under the following circumstances:

  • Entrance to the U.S. occurred while in transit to another country without first obtaining a visa.
  • Entrance to the U.S. occurred while a nonimmigrant crewman.
  • The individual was not admitted or paroled into the U.S. after being inspected by a U.S. Immigration Inspector.
  • Employment in the U.S. took place without USCIS authorization or when no longer legally in the country (except when such occurs without the fault of the individual in question or because of a technical reason). This criteria may not apply if:
    • The individual is the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen (a parent, spouse, or unmarried child under twenty-one years old).
    • The individual is a foreign medical graduate, employee of an international organization or a family member of an employee of an international organization.
  • The individual is a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor obligated to comply with the two-year foreign residence requirement has either not met or been granted a waiver for this requirement.
  • The individual is classified as an A (diplomatic status), E-1 treaty traderE-2 treaty investor or G (representative to international organization) nonimmigrant status. This rule does not apply if the individual completes a USCIS Form I-508 (I-508F for French nationals) for waiving diplomatic rights, privileges and immunities.
  •  Admittance was granted to Guam as a visitor under the Guam visa waiver program (does not apply to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens or LPRs).
  • Admittance to the U.S. occurred as a visitor under the visa waiver program (does not apply to immediate relatives U.S. citizens or LPRs).
  • The individual is already a conditional permanent resident.
  • Admittance occurred as a K-1 fiancé(e) but the beneficiary did not marry the U.S. citizen who filed the petition the beneficiary's behalf.
  • Admittance occurred as the K-2 child of a fiancé(e) and the beneficiary's parent did not marry the U.S. citizen who filed the petition on the beneficiary's behalf.

 

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