Are you currently living in the United States without status (undocumented)? Are you currently married to a U.S. citizen, or do you have a parent, adult son or daughter who is a U.S. citizen? Did you enter the United States legally with a visitor’s visa, student visa or employment visa? If you answered yes to these questions, well great news, you may be eligible for adjustment of status.
Adjustment of status is the process through which a foreign national living in the U.S. adjusts his or her non-immigrant status to immigrant status by filing certain applications with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This means that the person can go from being an out of status visitor or student to a green card holder without having to return to their home country. The entire process is handled while the person continues to live and work (in certain situations) in the U.S. while the application is in process. For many people, the adjustment of status process tends to be straightforward and more cost effective. It is also often shorter than consular processing.
In order to be eligible for adjustment of status, one must meet the following criteria:
1. The person must be physically present in the U.S. whether or not he or she is out of status or living in the U.S. on an expired visa. This is one of the most important factors for adjustment of status. If the person is not physically present in the U.S., then he or she is not eligible for an adjustment of status. Instead, he or she must go through consular processing abroad.
2. The person must have an approved immigrant visa petition or plan to file the petition along with the adjustment of status application. (It is customary to submit the adjustment of status application along with the family based or employment based petition for faster processing). This process allows USCIS to process both applications together and often reduce the overall wait time. It also allows the applicant to obtain temporary work authorization while the visa petition is in process.
3. The applicant must have entered the United States legally, meaning that he or she was lawfully admitted into the U.S. by an immigration officer who inspected their documents at a port of entry such as an airport or the U.S. border. This is by far one of the hardest requirements to meet because there are many people who entered the U.S. without being inspected and now cannot adjust because of their manner of entry. If you were not inspected by an immigration officer and admitted into the U.S., then you are not eligible for adjustment of status. However, depending on your situation, one who entered the U.S. illegally may be eligible for an I-601A waiver. Keep in mind that even if you entered the U.S. with fraudulent documents such a fraudulent passport or visa, you may still be eligible for adjustment of status, as long as you were inspected and admitted into the U.S. with those documents.
4. Lastly, the person must be admissible into the U.S. This last requirement means that the person must not be within the group of excludable aliens such as those with an extensive criminal background, people with a communicable diseases, or terrorists.
There are many benefits to applying for adjustment of status, one of which is the ability to obtain the authorization to work legally in the U.S. while the application is in process. If you meet all the eligibility requirements above, then I encourage you to contact our office for more information on how to apply.