Adjustment of Status (AOS) is the process of applying for lawful permanent resident status while the non-citizen is physically present in the USA. Adjustment of status means that a person “adjusted” their nonimmigrant (Ex: F-1 student) to a permanent resident, more commonly known as applying for a Green Card.
You must be present in the United States to apply. If the non-citizen is NOT currently in the U.S. or does not qualify to adjust, you must obtain an immigrant visa abroad through consular processing. Consular processing means that the U.S. citizen files a petition (I-130) first with USCIS. After USCIS approves the I-130 it gets transferred to The National Visa Center (NVC) which contacts Petitioner to produce additional documents and pay filing fees.
Adjustment of status allows the filing of BOTH I-130 and I-485 at the same time-concurrently. To be eligible for adjustment of status, there are TWO main requirements:
- The non-citizen (the Beneficiary) must have been inspected and admitted to the USA, typically this means entry with a visa or similar lawful entry into the USA.
- There must be a visa number available, meaning the priority date has been reached or the Beneficiary is an immediate relative such as the spouse or parent of a U.S. citizen.
- Please note that if the Petitioner is NOT a U.S. citizen, and is only a permanent resident, the beneficiary must also prove that they maintained legal presence in the USA up to the date of filing for adjustment.
This is a powerful process which allows eligible non-citizens to remain in the USA and get their green card inside the USA without the need to travel abroad (to the home country) to get an immigrant visa.
Why do I need a lawyer? It is imperative to determine whether the non-citizen can file BOTH I-130 and I-485 concurrently. A competent lawyer can assist here by asking the right questions. If there is any misrepresentative at the Embassy level to obtain the initial Visa used to enter as non-immigrant, USCIS may deny adjustment or require you to file a waiver or pardon. Should this happen, your case may be delayed and costly. Having a criminal history, a questionable previous marriage, or foreign convictions, may also impact the adjustment application. Additional applications may be filed (I-765, I-131) and other forms are required for a complete filing. This is one process that a consultation with an experienced lawyer may save time and even money.