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What is Adjustment of Status?
Adjustment of status allows people who currently have a non-immigrant status in the United States (such as a student or a worker’s visa) to apply to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States without leaving the US. In order to eventually become a citizen of the United States, you must first become a lawful permanent resident.
How Do I Apply for an Adjustment of Status?
The Adjustment of Status form is called the I-485 form. It is available for free online at the USCIS website, and the form has an attached set of directions on how you should complete the form. If you would like assistance with completing the form, you can also make an appointment with Attorney Jon Wu.
While the I-485 form is the form for status adjustment itself, you may need to complete additional accompanying forms. For example, if you are filing for an adjustment of status because you have married a U.S. citizen and you are represented by a lawyer, there are typically eight forms you will need to file: your spouse files the 130 and 130A forms to request a visa for you; you file a 485 to become a permanent resident; you file a 765 to get permission to work in the U.S.; you file a 131 to get permission to travel while your case is processed; your spouse files an 864 to prove you won’t need government financial help; and you both file a G-28 form to give your lawyer permission to work on your case.
You will also need to provide documents to prove that you are eligible to adjust your status. If you aren’t sure which forms you must fill out or which documents you need to provide, you can make an appointment with Attorney Jon Wu for help.
How is the “green card” related to adjustment of status?
People use the term “green card” to refer to a lawful permanent resident card. If your application to adjust your status to become a permanent resident is approved, you will receive a “green card.”
What are the requirements for adjustment of status?
There are three basic requirements for you to be eligible to adjust your status.
(1) You must be legally admitted to the United States, and you must be physically present in the United States at the time you file.
This requirement means that you must have been permitted to legally enter the United States upon your initial entry into the country (for example, with a visitor’s visa).
(2) You must be in lawful status.
This requirement means that you must have a legal status to be in the United States at the time you file to adjust your status. For example, you may have a visitor’s visa, a student visa, a temporary work visa, or any other type of temporary permission to be present in the United States.
(3) A visa must be immediately available to you.
The U.S. limits the number of people who can immigrate to the United States in each category from each country. So, before you apply for adjustment of status, you must check if an immigrant visa is available to you based on your country of origin and the category of immigrant visa you are applying for. Immediate relatives of US citizens (spouses, children and parents) are not subject to the numerical limitation.
Categories of people who may be eligible for an immigrant visa include: Spouses of U.S. citizens or U.S. lawful permanent residents, fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens or children of fiancé(e)s of U.S. citizens, widow(er)s of U.S. citizens, certain types of workers, certain types of investors, or people with a national interest waiver.
If you are unsure of your appropriate category, you can make an appointment with Attorney Jon Wu for advice.
If you are the spouse, parent, or child of a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible for an exception to some of these requirements. This exception is referred to as 245(i). If you fall into this category, you may still be eligible to adjust your status even if you do not currently have legal status to be present in the United States.
What is Naturalization?
Naturalization is the process of becoming a citizen of the United States. You become eligible for naturalization after you have been a lawful permanent resident for five years, or, if you are married to a U.S. citizen, after you have been a lawful permanent resident and with your US citizen spouse for three years.
The basic requirements to become naturalized are:
(1) You must have been lawfully admitted. If immigration finds that you received Lawful Permanent Resident status by fraud or any sort of misrepresentation, you will not qualify to become a citizen, and you could risk deportation. (For example, a fake marriage that was solely for the purpose of immigrating to the United States would be considered fraud.)
(2) You must have been physically present in the United States for at least half of the mandatory Lawful Permanent Resident time period (5 years or 3 years if your spouse is a U.S. citizen). There are some exceptions to this rule, including exceptions for active military members or people working for U.S. companies while abroad. If you are unsure if you may qualify for an exception, you can make an appointment with Attorney Jon Wu for advice.
(3) You must pass a literacy test in English and Civics. There are exceptions to this requirement, including exceptions for applications who have disabilities or applicants who are seniors. If you are unsure if you may qualify for an exception, you can make an appointment with Attorney Jon Wu for advice.
Once you have become a naturalized citizen, you can vote, run for political office, get a U.S. passport, receive priority when you apply for other family members to immigrate to the U.S., and become protected from deportation. You will also no longer have to renew your immigration status (you must renew your lawful permanent resident status every ten years, unless you naturalize).