Adjusting status is usually the best way to get a green card. Adjustment of status is a way of fixing your papers without having to leave the United States. This is different than Consular Processing, where you are required to leave the U.S. to attend an interview at a consulate abroad.
Our law firm works hard to find a pathway towards Adjustment, wherever it’s available. We want our clients to avoid having to leave the country, to save you the stress
If you entered the U.S. with most types of visas, including a visitor or tourist visa, and you never left, you may be eligible to adjust status based on a family petition. In order to qualify for adjustment, the petitioner must either be a U.S. citizen spouse, parent, or child, or you must have maintained lawful status since your last entry.
There are a number of issues that can arise in the adjustment process. This is why it’s critical to consult with an experienced immigration attorney before starting the journey.
Most often, people hit a roadblock in the process because they were not qualified to Adjust Status in the first place. Before discussing some of these roadblocks, it’s worth noting why this happens. There are many unscrupulous attorneys and non-attorneys that jump at the opportunity to help you apply for your green card simply because they learn that you have married a U.S. citizen or your U.S. citizen child is turning 21 years old. But there are many, many other factors to consider before commencing the process.
For example, even if you have a close U.S. citizen family member who can petition for you, in order to adjust status you usually need to have entered the U.S. lawfully. There are several exceptions, of course, as discussed above. But it’s important to have an immigration attorney confirm that you are eligible to adjust in the first place.
Others are ineligible for adjustment of status due to their criminal history. A criminal waiver is available for some offenses, but not all. So, some individuals, depending on their criminal history, are better off not applying for adjustment at all. For example, persons with multiple drug offenses who apply for adjustment risk being placed in removal proceedings without any possibility of securing a green card.
In sum, it’s important to have an immigration attorney vet your case to decide if you qualify for Adjustment of Status.
A second major area of difficulty in Adjusting Status is providing sufficient proof. To start, you have to proof the relationship.
The process for Adjustment of Status through a family member always starts with a green card petition, filled out on Form I-130. The purpose of the Form I-130 is simple – it’s to prove the relationship exists. So, an I-130 filed by a husband for his wife will include evidence of marriage, like a marriage certificate, photographs, leases or rental agreements, bank account statements, life insurance policies, and letters from family and friends.
The second step is to file the Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status. If the petition is filed by an immediate relative, like a spouse, parent, or child of a U.S. citizen, then the I-130 and I-485 can be filed simultaneously. If the petition is filed for someone in the “preference categories,” like a brother or sister, or a married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen, then the I-485 must be filed after a visa becomes available.
The I-485 is tricky, because a lot of information and supplemental forms needs to be attached. For example, you’ll need attach a form I-864 to prove that you won’t become a financial burden on society. You’ll also need to attach a medical examination report in a sealed envelope to show that you don’t have any health conditions that would bar you from adjustment.
A nice benefit of applying for adjustment is that you can simultaneously request a work permit without paying a filing fee. You’ll use Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization. In addition, you can request permission to travel outside the United States while your application is pending, on Form I-131, Application for Travel Document.