If you wish to adjust your status from a visa holder into a lawful permanent resident, or green card holder, it can be a long and complicated process. Recent changes in U.S. immigration laws have made the requirements more complicated to understand.
You may want to work with an immigration lawyer to complete the adjustment of status process in order to avoid mishaps or misfilings. This can involve submitting an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status and additional forms. Your additional forms may be submitted at the same time as your application or separately. Filing them together is called “concurrent filing.” This can reduce the amount of time it takes to obtain an adjustment of status.
You will also have to attend an Application Support Center Appointment, or “biometrics” appointment, and an interview with the USCIS. These appointments will require you to answer questions and review your background. It is an immigration officer’s duty to uncover and discover any pertinent information, and this can be a nerve-wracking experience. It’s best to prepare for these appointments with the help of an immigration lawyer. An immigration lawyer can even attend the interview along with you, to ensure that you are being treated fairly.
In order to obtain a Green Card, you must fall into a specific category as an intending immigrant. For example, you may have a close family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, or an employer who is willing to sponsor you, or you may be an asylee or refugee.
There are additional requirements depending on which immigrant category you fall into. For example, if you are a family-based immigrant, then you must have a visa petition approved prior to the adjustment of status process. Your priority date must be current as well. Similarly, if you are an asylee or refugee, then you must have waited a required one year since your entry into the United States or asylum approval date.
A requirement for all Green Card seekers is that you currently reside within the United States. You cannot live in another country, including your home country. If you have been outside of the U.S. for an extended period of time, you are most likely not eligible for a Green Card.
Determine Your Eligibility
In order to be eligible for an adjustment of status, you must have a valid visa. If your visa is expired and you stayed past the valid date, you may have to leave the country prior to seeking an adjustment of status. In fact, you may no longer be eligible to return to the States. There are some exceptions to this under the Immigration and Nationality Act 245(i) if an employer or family member filed a qualifying petition for you on or before April 30, 2001. This may allow you to pay a $1,000 penalty fee and continue to seek an adjustment of status.
It’s important to work with an immigration lawyer to determine your eligibility for an adjustment of status. You will have to prove your eligibility, and if there are any questions about your validity, your process may be delayed or your petition may be denied.
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