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, the need to request leave from work, etc.
Am I Eligible?
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.
Entry to the U.S. Without Inspection
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.
Lack of Proof of Admission
U.S. Customs and Border Protection will issue a “Form I-94 Arrival/Departure Record” (I-94) to a person when they are admitted to the U.S. This I-94, along with a stamp in your passport, is proof that a person has indeed been lawfully admitted to the U.S. What happens if this I-94 and the passport is lost, or perhaps the I-94 was never issued and the passport was never stamped?
This is referred to as a “Waved-In Entry.” Proving inspection and admission in these cases is challenging without official government documents, but it is still possible with the submission of compelling secondary evidence, especially declarations.
How Does the Application Process Work?
The adjustment of status process can be long and complicated. The application includes technical questions, involves a medical examination and the payment of certain fees, requires the submission of an Affidavit of Support for family-based immigrants, etc.
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, and potentially their family member as well, will be questioned by an experienced USCIS officer regarding the family relationship, their immigration history, etc.
Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza – Full-Service Immigration Law
If you would like to apply for adjustment of status, the skilled legal team at Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza can help. We will work tirelessly to protect your rights and interests as you complete the adjustment of status process, including assisting 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 Miller Zhang & Diza today for a confidential consultation about your case.