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What You Need to Know About the Adjustment of Status to Get Your Green Card

Adjustment of status is the process of transitioning from a temporary, nonimmigrant classification such as visitor, student, or temporary worker status to permanent resident status (aka green card holder). Eligibility requirements can vary based on immigrant category, the most common of which are detailed below.

Family Sponsorship

To obtain a family-based green card via adjustment of status, a family member who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident must be willing to petition on your behalf. The process begins when they file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative or I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), depending on your relationship to that person. Note that only U.S. citizens can sponsor a fiancé(e). Once you arrive in the U.S. and/or get married, Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status) must be filed.

Employment-Based Sponsorship

If you came to the U.S. on an employment-based visa, such as the temporary L-1 or EB-1 for priority workers, you may apply for an adjustment of status if you still work for the employer who filed the Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) on your behalf. If you filed as a self-petitioner (self-employed) you must intend to remain in the same or similar line of work.

Refugee or Asylee Status

If you received refugee or asylee status over a year ago, you may now be eligible for a green card.

There are other eligibility categories, such as victims of abuse, human trafficking, and crime. In general, you may only file the Form I-485 when a visa becomes available in your category.

Conditions for Adjustment of Status

No matter which route you take, you must meet three fundamental requirements in order to file an adjustment of status application.

  1. You must be physically present in the U.S. when the Form I-485 is filed and be there to complete the process.
  2. Your arrival in the country must have been lawful. This means that you arrived with valid documentation and had an immigration officer acknowledge your entry.
  3. You must have a current approved petition for your classification, such as Form I-130 for a family-based sponsorship.

If you are a temporary visa holder who has left the country, you cannot apply for an adjustment of status. Instead, you are required to file a petition for an immigrant visa at the American consulate.

Waiting for a Number

Available visas are limited for some categories, such as employment-based sponsorships and certain relatives of U.S. citizens and permanent residents. This means that even if your petition is approved, you may not receive a visa from the Department of State immediately.

Not all U.S. visa holders can adjust their status, which is why this option is primarily used by those who arrived on an employment visa or entered as a K-1 fiancé(e), refugee, asylee, or is an immediate relative of a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The entire process, which includes paperwork processing, interviews, security checks, and a review by USCIS, can take years. If you are granted permanent residence, USCIS will send your green card via U.S. Mail to your address on record.

Contact a Dedicated Florida Immigration Attorney

The adjustment of status application process is complex and can pose difficulties for unprepared applicants. As such, working with an experienced Florida immigration attorney can prevent delays due to misunderstandings or inaccurate paperwork. Your attorney can also help if an unexpected event occurs to jeopardize your application, such as requests for evidence or the death of your U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative before the process concludes.

At the Law Offices of Connie Kaplan, we are committed to helping you realize your personal “American Dream.” Our firm will guide you through the adjustment of status process so that you can continue to build your new life in the U.S. To learn more about what we can do for you, contact us today!

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