ADJUSTMENT OF STATUS AND GREEN CARDS

Citizenship and Immigration Services

adjustment of status

The many paths to citizenship or lawful permanent residence (LPR) are long and difficult. If you have trouble understanding Adjustment of Status and Green Cards, you are not alone. First, an immigrant must determine what type of status they are eligible for. Then, he or she must file the correct forms, maintain their status, pay the necessary fees, and perform the necessary requirements. After completing an application and meeting all the requirements, an applicant must often wait months or even years. This is all on top of the difficulties of everyday life.

It’s easy to make simple mistakes during the process that could disqualify you from obtaining LPR. Consulting an attorney experienced in Adjustment of Status will help you navigate this complicated process. The attorneys at Ybarra Maldonado Law Group can help you determine your eligibility. We can also spot any potential legal problems, and prepare the necessary documents for you.

What is Adjustment of Status?

Adjustment of Status, AOS, is the process for those not born in the United States that do not have LPR status to stay in the country.

When you use an adjustment of status, you’ll be able to live in the U.S. while your application is processed, even if your visa expires before you’re approved for a green card.

One alternative to an adjustment of status is consular processing. This is when you apply for a green card from outside the U.S. For this method, green cards are processed by the nearest United States consulate or embassy. You will remain outside of the states until your green card application is approved.

Both method have their own:

  1. timelines

  2. applications

  3. costs

  4. supporting documents

While the process for obtaining a green card may be different, the eligibility requirements for the two are identical.

The way you entered the U.S., your family ties, and your background determine the way in which you apply for Adjustment of Status.

What is a Green Card?

A green card is a document issued to immigrants that allows them to reside and work permanently in the U.S. Its official name is a Permanent Resident Card.

Green card holders may apply for U.S. citizenship after showing they have established a permanent residence in the U.S. for at least five years. They must also show they have good moral character. The government can revoke green cards if the holder commits certain crimes. 

USCIS judges green card applications. In some cases, an immigration judge, an authorized federal judge, or a member of the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) grants Green Cards. 

While many types of green cards exist, they essentially work in the same way. Additionally, they all have your Alien Registration Number, which you need for many immigration documents. It grants you legal permanent resident status. But the way someone becomes eligible for each green card requires a different process and adjustment application.

The Four Most Common Types of Green Cards Are:

  • This requires the applicant to be an immediate family member of a U.S.citizen. This family member petitions on your behalf for your visa and Green Card. 
  • An unmarried applicant under the age of 21 with a parent that is a U.S. citizen may also apply for a family-based Green Card.
  • Spouses of U.S. citizens may apply for Green Cards. The U.S. spouse petitions on behalf of the foreign spouse for a visa and Green Card.
  • A fiance of a U.S. citizen may apply for a K-1 visa. This allows them to get married on American soil. Once they get married, they may apply for a marriage based Green Card
  • The competition for this type of visa is strong. Like other forms of visas and green cards, it is highly susceptible to change depending on the current administration.
  • These applicants often need to demonstrate exceptional ability. They might also hold an advanced degree and/or other special categories set by the U.S. Government.
  • This is for applicants who received their lawful permanent resident status in previous years. If their status expires while they travel outside of the country, they may apply for a Returning Resident Immigrant Visa. This helps them work towards a Green Card again.

Adjustment of Status Eligibility

Who is Eligible for Status Adjustment?

If you have immediate relatives or an immediate family member that is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, they may petition for your Adjustment of Status. In most cases, they will need to file Form I-130. Form I-130 is a Petition for an Alien Relative. Its purpose is to show a relationship between the applicant and the citizen or permanent resident. There are other types of forms that may be required for your application.

Contact an experienced attorney offering immigration services to help you navigate the status application process. An immigration lawyer can inform you on which form to submit.

Requirements for Adjustment of Status

The requirements for Adjustment of Status might include but are not limited to:

You must be inside the U.S. when you file the application for Adjustment of Status. However, some may apply for Adjustment of Status from their home country through a consulate. Consult an attorney to see if this is an option for you.

To apply for an adjustment of status, you must have a valid visa or have used the Visa Waiver Program when you most recently entered into the United States. In most cases, you must be in lawful status when you initial apply for an adjustment of status. If you entered with a valid visa but it is now expired, you still entered the U.S. legally.

An exception to this rule is if you are applying for an adjustment of status through marriage to obtain a permanent residence.

An attorney can help you determine which form to submit and how.

Most drug crimes make it impossible for an adjustment of status. 

Usually a sponsor is an immediate family member. Immediate relatives will have to prove they make a certain amount of money. In some cases, a sponsor can be a fiance, or an employer.

In certain cases, you may qualify for a green card through the diversity lottery or other humanitarian grounds.

Each type of application requires a specified amount of money required to apply.

First, you’ll need to pay any fees that are associated with your initial petition. Typically, you’ll pay $535 for your I-130 Petition.

Once this is approved, you’ll then pay a separate fee to file your I-485 green card application. Most of the time, this fee ranges from $1,140 to $1,300.

For those filing under the age of 14, you’ll need to pay $995 if you are filing with one of your parents. If you are 14 or under and filing on your own, you will have to pay the $1,140, just like an adult.

Green card applicants must take a medical exam before becoming lawful permanent residents. These exams tend to cost a few hundred dollars.

Your doctor will fill out a form for you. Keep it sealed and in a safe place. Only the judge should open it.

Before you can file for an adjustment of status, you must first make sure that there is a green card available to you at the time. If you are applying as a spouse or immediate relative of family members with U.S. citizenship, this is automatically available.

However, if you’re applying as a distant relative, or if your sponsor is only a green card holder, you could be faced with longer wait periods. You’re able to check visa availability on the USCIS website.

The same holds true if you’re trying to obtain a green card through employment authorization.

Immigration law is constantly changing. Speak with an attorney to see if you may be eligible for Adjustment of Status based on special circumstances.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Green Card?

With an experienced immigration attorney, it should take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to complete and submit the necessary paperwork. After submitting the green card application to the USCIS office, the waiting period depends on how busy USCIS is. You can expect to wait at least 5 months and up to several years for the entire process. In some cases, applicants will initially receive a denial. If this happens, we recommend speaking with an immigration appeal lawyer.

Adjustment of Status Timeline

Obtaining a green card through an adjustment of status is a slow process. The time required to adjust status will depend on your unique situation.

For example, completing and adjustment of status through marriage should take anywhere from 5-18 months, if your spouse is a United States citizen. The same process will take anywhere from 5-36 months if your spouse is a green card holder.

The status processing time will also vary depending on where you apply from within the United States. So, you may wish to check on the USCIS processing times for locations close to you.

The best way to make sure that your status process moves along as quickly as possible is to avoid common mistakes and ensure that all of your paperwork is correct and ready for professional review.

Ybarra Maldonado Law Group offers citizenship and immigration services, including immigration lawyers who can handle adjusting status for clients.

How to Get a Green Card Through Adjustment of Status

  1. Check your eligibility for a green card.

  2. Ask your sponsor to file the appropriate petition for your green card.

    • Family green card: I-130

    • Employment-based application: I-140

    • Humanitarian application: I-730

  3. Once your sponsor files your petition, USCIS must grant it. This can take anywhere between several months to years, depending on your unique case.

  4. After your petition is granted, you may check for visa availability for your green card.

  5. Once you see there’s a visa available, file your adjustment of status application. This is Form I-485. At this time, you may also want to file the requests for your work permit and advance travel documents so that you may work and travel while waiting.

  6. After you receive your I-485, the USCIS will mail you the information you’ll need to complete your fingerprint and eye scan. This is also called biometrics appointment.

  7. Depending on what information was given in the I-485, you may need to be physically present for an interview. In other cases the USCIS may mail a formal request for more evidence.

  8. Eventually, you’ll receive an answer. If your status application was granted, you’ll receive an approval notice, followed by your physical green card.

How to Check the Status Application

You can check for updates on your status application at any time. You just need to enter in your case number on the USCIS website. This will give you all of the information and updates on your adjustment of status, including when your green card is approved.

What Happens After an Adjustment of Status Change?

Once you receive your green card in the mail, you can work and live freely in the United States. you may travel overseas and return without having to worry.

If you applied for an adjustment of status through marriage, you may receive a conditional green card that’s good for 2 years. You will need to upgrade this to a 10 year green card as you near the end of the 2 year period.

Depending on what type of green card you have, you may be eligible to apply for citizenship after 3-5 years.

Phoenix Adjustment of Status Lawyer

The Adjustment of Status process is complicated and confusing. At Ybarra Maldonado Law Group, our years of experience in immigration law and years of offering citizenship and immigration services allow us to get the best possible results for our clients. Applying for Adjustment of Status and Green Cards is much easier with the help of an experienced, compassionate attorney who’s well versed in the status process. Contact us for your green card consultation.

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