It can be hard to make sense of all of the jargon that is used during the immigration process. One term you might hear a lot is “adjustment of status.” This might sound intimidating, but it simply refers to when an immigrant finalizes their legal status and obtains a green card. This term applies to anyone who has been “admitted or paroled” to the United States who then receives a green card.
At Monument Immigration, we can help you make sense of the immigration process. Here, we’ll discuss what is required for an adjustment of status, and how you can begin the process.
Who Can Adjust Status?
There are multiple different ways you can adjust status. The most common way is through marriage, where your spouse sponsors your entry to the United States. Another common way is through an asylum application.
There are also a few other cases where adjustments of status apply. Victims of certain crimes may apply, as well as those with certain job or investment offers.
An adjustment of status is not the same of a change of status. A change of status is when you switch from one temporary visa (like a student visa) to another type of temporary visa (such as a work visa). An adjustment of status, however, means you receive a green card and become a Lawful Permanent Resident. If you are planning on becoming a US citizen, adjusting status is the first step.
You Must Enter The Country Legally
A key qualification for anyone considering an adjustment of status is that they be “admitted or paroled” when entering the United States. This If you entered the country without documentation, you will not be eligible for a green card through an adjustment of status. Instead, you will have to leave the country and apply for another type of immigrant visa.
There are some exceptions. You can file for a waiver that will allow you to stay in the country, or leave and return more quickly than would usually be allowed. This can be very complicated, and the who the exemptions apply to is not always clear. That’s why you should contact an immigration attorney and have them review your case.
Only people who are “admissible” to the United States can make an adjustment of status. Those who have specific diseases, a criminal background, or who do not have a financial sponsor in the United States may not be able to adjust status and could be deported.
An adjustment of status requires an immigration visa. If you receive a marriage visa, you can adjust your status immediately. If a brother or sister files a petition of support, however, you will not immediately be granted an immigration visa, as is the case with marriage. Therefore, you could have to wait years before you can adjust status.
Adjusting Status Without Petition Of Support
There are certain protections designed for immigrants who are trafficked, abused, or victims of other crimes. That means that you could be eligible for a status adjustment even if you don’t have a spouse filing a petition on your behalf. If you or a family member has been the victim of a crime, or been abused either physically or emotionally, it’s important that you contact an immigration attorney
If you are eligible, adjusting status is fairly straightforward. If you are married, your spouse must file an I-130 petition. This states that they will support you financially when you are granted permanent residence. You then file an I-485 application that, when processed and approved, will adjust your status and make you a Lawful Permanent Resident.
There are exceptions where you can file without a petition of support and receive your green card. For example, if you have been a victim of abuse, you may still be able to adjust status without your spouse’s support. The application forms you must fill out, however, are not the same as those for a standard adjustment of status. The same is true of those adjusting status through employment.
Any application for an adjustment of status can also lead to your deportation, if you have a criminal background that is discovered as your application is processed. Therefore, make sure that you are not at risk of deportation before you file any status adjustment paperwork. It is recommended that you speak to an immigration attorney before you submit any forms.
How Long Will Adjustment of Status Take?
The processing time for status adjustments can vary greatly case-by-case, so there is no way of knowing for sure how long your case could take. Marriage cases are often the quickest, and can take around half a year. However, other cases can take years. The time it takes to review your application is at the discretion of the government, so you don’t have many options besides waiting patiently.
If your case drags on longer than the normal processing time, you can consider bringing a civil lawsuit against the government to try to force them to make a decision. This should only be done after consulting an immigration attorney.
Why You Should Adjust Status
There are many benefits that come from adjusting status. You are allowed to permanently reside and work in the United States, and you can begin the naturalization process right away. This will lead to you becoming a US citizen within around five years. There are a number of advantages that come from being a citizen as opposed to a permanent resident, one of the most important being that you cannot be deported for minor crimes or other legal issues.
Contact An Experienced Adjustment of Status Lawyer
At Monument Immigration, we only work on immigration law. No matter what step of the immigration process, we can give you the legal advice you’ll need to file a successful application.
If you are looking to adjust status, or have any other questions about immigration law, contact us. We offer a free case evaluation, and can have your application ready for submission in just two business days.