Adjustment of status allows a person already living in the U.S. to become a permanent resident (green card holder) without having to depart the U.S. The ability to be granted adjustment of status if often life-changing, because being required to depart the U.S. and apply for an Immigrant Visa in your native country may trigger a 3-year or 10-year bar from returning to the U.S. As you can see, the ability to be granted adjustment of status is typically more beneficial than simply saving the applicant the money from traveling abroad and the need to request leave from work.
The adjustment of the status process can be long and complicated. The application includes technical questions, involves a medical examination and the payment of certain fees, and may include the submission of documents from both you and your employer or company, such as educational achievements, work history, the duties undertaken in your current employment and financial records.
There are many types of employment-based immigration avenues to obtaining legal permanent residency in the U.S. Some types of workers do not need a specific job offer to immigrate, including persons of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives. Some avenues involve the investment of a certain amount of money into a business to create and maintain jobs for U.S. workers. However, most employment-based immigration requires your prospective or current employer to obtain a labor certification which is the basis for the petition for the alien worker, which they file on your behalf.
Following the submission of the application with the necessary supporting documents, an applicant can be expected to be required to appear at an in-person interview with a U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) officer. This is the most important, and likely most stressful, part of the process! The applicant will be questioned by an experienced USCIS officer regarding the work history, their immigration history, etc.
The question of eligibility appears to be simple. In reality though, it can be very complicated. To be eligible for adjustment of status, a foreign national must typically have been inspected and admitted or paroled into the U.S. pursuant to Section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (Act). This lawful admission to the U.S. could have been with a variety of nonimmigrant (temporary) visas. Some of the more common nonimmigrant visas are B-1/B-2 Business/Tourist Visas, H-1B Visas, F-1 Student Visas, etc. Regardless of the particular visa used to gain entry to the U.S. though, proving admission is commonly required.
In addition, a person who is seeking employment-based residency in the U.S. must be in lawful nonimmigration status at the time of filing for adjustment of status. There are some exceptions to this rule, including those who have a petition which qualifies them for protection under Section 245(i) of the Act, which is discussed in the next section. The other exception is outlined in Section 245(k) of the Act, which allows beneficiaries of employment-based petitions to adjust, as long as they were lawfully admitted and had not violated the terms of their status, by working, overstaying, or violating the terms of their visa, for more than a 180 days in total.
Entering the U.S. without authorization from the Department of Homeland Security is commonly referred to as Entry Without Inspection (EWI). These prospective adjustment of status applicants are only eligible if they are protected by Section 245(i) of the Act. This specific provision of the Act allows a person to be granted adjustment of status if they can show that a qualifying petition was filed for them on or before April 30, 2001. Depending on the exact date on which the qualifying petition was filed, they may also have to show physical presence in the U.S. on a particular day. A person may also be protected by Section 245(i) based off a petition filed for their parents.
If you would like to apply for adjustment of status, the skilled legal team at Reeves Immigration Law Group can help. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights and interests as you complete the adjustment of status process, including assisting both you and your employer with preparations for your interview with USCIS. The process can be complex, and even minor errors can result in delayed or denied applications. Don’t make the mistake of attempting to apply on your own. Contact Reeves Immigration Law Group today for a confidential consultation about your case.