Understanding The Process Of Adjustment Of Status

What is Adjustment of Status?

Adjustment of Status (AOS) is a process within the United States immigration system that allows certain nonimmigrants (people with temporary visas) and certain immigrants (those who have been granted a petition for an immigrant visa) to apply for permanent residency (green card) without leaving the country. Instead of going through consular processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country, eligible individuals can apply for adjustment of status while they are already in the United States.

The AOS process is available to individuals who meet specific eligibility criteria, which can vary depending on the visa category they are currently in and their relationship to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident. Generally, those eligible for AOS include:

  • Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens: This includes spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents of U.S. citizens.
  • Family-sponsored preference categories: Certain family members of U.S. citizens or green card holders can also apply for AOS, such as unmarried adult children, married children, and siblings of U.S. citizens.
  • Employment-based preference categories: Some individuals with employment-based visas, such as certain H-1B visa holders or EB-3 workers, can apply for AOS if they meet the required criteria.
  • Diversity Visa Lottery winners: People selected in the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery may be eligible to adjust their status if they meet the necessary requirements.
  • Refugees and Asylees: Those who were granted refugee or asylee status can apply for AOS one year after being granted such status.

The AOS process typically involves submitting an application package to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which includes various forms, supporting documents, fees, and possibly attending an interview. It’s important to note that not all individuals can apply for AOS, and some might still need to go through consular processing in their home country.

The specific requirements, forms, and procedures for AOS can change over time, so it’s crucial to consult the official USCIS website or seek legal advice to ensure accurate and up-to-date information before applying for adjustment of status.

What is the difference between Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing?

Adjustment of Status (AOS) and Consular Processing are two different pathways within the United States immigration system for obtaining a green card (permanent residency). They are used by individuals with different circumstances and locations, and they involve distinct processes:

  • Adjustment of Status (AOS):

AOS is a process that allows eligible individuals who are already in the United States to apply for a green card without leaving the country. This process is available to certain nonimmigrant visa holders and immigrants who are already present in the U.S. AOS is typically pursued by individuals who are in the U.S. on temporary visas and wish to change their status to permanent residency.

Key features of AOS include:

  • Applicants file their green card application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) while they are physically present in the U.S.
  • AOS is typically available to immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, family-sponsored preference category applicants, employment-based preference category applicants, diversity visa lottery winners, and refugees/asylees.
  • Applicants may need to attend an interview at a USCIS office.
  • The entire AOS process takes place within the U.S., and the applicant does not need to travel to a U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • Consular Processing:

Consular Processing involves obtaining a green card through a U.S. embassy or consulate in the applicant’s home country or country of residence:

This process is often used by individuals who are not currently in the United States but have been approved for an immigrant visa through a family member’s sponsorship, employment-based petition, or other qualifying reasons.

Key features of Consular Processing include:

  • After an immigrant petition (Form I-130 or I-140, for example) is approved by USCIS, the National Visa Center (NVC) notifies the applicant and forwards their case to the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate.
  • The applicant is required to attend an interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.
  • Once the interview is successful and the visa is approved, the applicant is granted an immigrant visa to enter the U.S. as a permanent resident.
  • After entering the U.S., the individual is inspected at a port of entry and becomes a lawful permanent resident.

In summary, the main difference between AOS and Consular Processing lies in where the application process occurs. AOS is for individuals already in the U.S. who apply for a green card without leaving the country, while Consular Processing involves obtaining an immigrant visa through a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad and then entering the U.S. as a permanent resident. The appropriate pathway depends on an individual’s circumstances, location, and eligibility.

What are the Adjustment of Status Requirements?

The requirements for Adjustment of Status (AOS) in the United States can vary depending on the specific category under which you are applying for a green card. Generally, the eligibility criteria for AOS include:

  • Eligible Visa Category: You must be eligible for AOS based on your current immigration status and the category of green card you are applying for. Common categories include immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, family-sponsored preference categories, employment-based preference categories, diversity visa lottery winners, and refugees/asylees.
  • Eligible Relationship: If you are applying as a family member of a U.S. citizen or green card holder, you must have a qualifying relationship, such as being the spouse, child, or parent of the sponsoring individual.
  • Valid Immigration Status: You must have entered the U.S. legally and currently be in a valid nonimmigrant status or have been granted parole or asylum/refugee status.
  • Maintaining Status: You must have maintained your legal nonimmigrant status and complied with the terms of your visa during your stay in the U.S.
  • Eligibility Based on Employment: If applying through an employment-based preference category, you must have a qualifying job offer and an approved immigrant petition (Form I-140) from your employer.
  • Affidavit of Support: In most cases, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident sponsor must submit an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) to demonstrate that they have the financial means to support you.
  • Medical Examination: You must undergo a medical examination by a designated civil surgeon and submit the required medical documentation.
  • Criminal History: You must not have a criminal history or other issues that would make you inadmissible under U.S. immigration laws. Certain criminal offenses or immigration violations can affect your eligibility.
  • Public Charge Consideration: You must demonstrate that you are not likely to become a “public charge,” meaning you won’t primarily depend on government assistance for your financial support.
  • Biometrics and Interview: You may be required to provide biometric information (fingerprinting) and attend an in-person interview at a USCIS office.
  • Admissibility: You must be admissible to the U.S. based on factors such as health, criminal history, security concerns, and other grounds of inadmissibility.

Please note that the requirements can be complex and vary based on the specific green card category and your individual circumstances. It’s important to carefully review the instructions provided by USCIS for the specific AOS application you are pursuing, and it might be advisable to consult with an immigration attorney or legal expert to ensure you meet all the necessary eligibility criteria and submit a complete and accurate application.

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