Adjustment of Status (Green Card)
One of the main ways to become a permanent resident of the United States is through an adjustment of status. This approach is available to individuals who are currently in the U.S. and have a temporary nonimmigrant visa but wish to change their status to become a permanent resident by obtaining a green card.
If you are not physically present in the U.S. or are ineligible for an adjustment of status, you may be able to use an alternative method called consular processing. However, this option may be inconvenient or impractical since it requires you to visit a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad. Therefore, an adjustment of status is generally a more desirable option.
To be eligible for an adjustment of status, an immigrant petition must be filed on your behalf. For certain case types, you may be able to self-petition. The appropriate timing of filing your adjustment application depends on your specific circumstances. For instance, you may be able to concurrently file an immigrant petition and an adjustment of status application in certain family-based and employment-based cases.
Completing an Adjustment of Status
To apply for adjustment of status in the U.S., you must first be eligible by having been admitted or paroled as a nonimmigrant and having met all requirements.
Once you have legally entered the U.S. as a nonimmigrant, you may file Form I-485, either after approval of an immigrant petition, or concurrently with an immigrant petition in certain instances. Successful filing and approval result in permanent residence status (green card).
Being Admitted to the United States
When you arrive at a U.S. border, an immigration officer will question you regarding your reason for visiting the country. Once they approve your entry, you are considered to be admitted. Your passport will be stamped with a nonimmigrant classification and a date indicating how long you may stay.
The border agent does not need to assign a specific visa status or ask you questions for you to be considered admitted. As long as you have presented yourself to an immigration officer, have not misrepresented your citizenship, and have been granted permission to enter, you are considered to have been admitted.
However, entering the country illegally without inspection will likely make it impossible for you to apply for an adjustment of status in the future.
Being Paroled Into the United States
Parole refers to temporary admission to the United States under exceptional circumstances, such as urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefits, even if you are otherwise ineligible for admission.
Parole is commonly granted to individuals who are unable to obtain refugee status but are fleeing unstable conditions in their home country. If you are granted parole, you will receive an I-94 form that indicates the legal basis for your parole and your parole-through date, which is the period during which you are permitted to remain in the U.S.
Due to the complexity of the legal status of parole, it often is recommended to have attorney assistance and a strong advocate to help you navigate the process.
Temporary Protected Status & Adjustment of Status
If you have been granted temporary protected status, you are eligible to apply for an adjustment of status even if you entered the U.S. without proper inspection and admission. This is because temporary protected status is now considered “inspection and admission” to obtain and maintain lawful nonimmigrant status.
Begin Your Green Card Application
Heckler Law Group is ready to answer your questions about applying for a green card and other aspects of the immigration process. We are committed to exceeding your expectations by providing comprehensive and efficient legal representation and superior client service.