What is an Adjustment of Status?
An Adjustment of Status (AOS) allows immigrants to apply for a green card while remaining in the US. It is an alternative to consulate processing, where the applicant must return to their home country to file their green card application and remain there until their application is approved. An AOS can allow you to stay with your loved ones or continue working in the US while you await your green card determination. Not every immigrant will qualify to adjust their status. It is very important to determine whether you qualify first before you file any paperwork with USCIS.
What Are the Steps to an Adjustment of Status Application?
An AOS application has many steps which must be performed in a specific order. Missing steps can lead to delays or a denial of your green card request.
Determine Your Eligibility
To get a green card, you must have eligibility for citizenship through one of these categories:
- Employment: Your employer may sponsor your employment-based green card, or you may be eligible due to your skills and accomplishments in your career.
- Family: If you are a close family member of a US citizen, such as a child, spouse, parent, or another near relation, you may apply for a family-based green card. Our green card for relatives lawyers have helped many families seek citizenship for their loved ones through this process.
- Other: An immigrant may qualify for a green card in many ways. For example, refugees and human-trafficking victims may be eligible to apply. Contact a knowledgeable immigration lawyer to learn more about these categories.
File an Immigrant Petition
An immigrant petition is generally filed on your behalf by another individual, such as an employer or family member, known as a sponsor. In some cases, you can file your own petition. It’s essential to consult with your lawyer to understand the requirements. For most green card categories, you will need an approved immigrant petition before you can continue to the next steps.
Check Whether a Visa is Available
If your green card category requires an available visa before you can file your Form I-485, you or your lawyer must view the USCIS’s visa bulletin to check if you are currently eligible to file. This process requires knowledge of your petition type, priority date, and other information and can be complicated. If a visa is necessary for your application, an immigration attorney can assist you through these steps and ensure that you understand the visa information.
File Form I-485
Once you have met all the eligibility requirements, you can file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You must also pay the applicable filing fee for this application at this time.
Attend Your Appointment at Your Local Application Support Center (ASC)
As part of your green card application, you may be required to visit an ASC to provide your photograph, fingerprints, and signature so they can verify your identity and perform needed background checks. You will receive a letter informing you of this appointment’s date, time, and location. Failure to attend without prior notice can result in the denial of your application.
Complete Your USCIS Interview if Necessary
Some applicants may be informed through a written notice that they must go to an interview with the USCIS. At this interview, they will ask you and your sponsor questions about your application under oath and review your documents.
Contact your lawyer promptly if you receive an interview notice so they can help you prepare for the questions and ensure that your paperwork is in order.
Provide Additional Evidence as Requested
If there is other documentation that the USCIS needs, you will receive a letter detailing the requested evidence and where to send it. Not everyone will be asked to provide more documents, but if you do get a request for additional information, it is crucial to respond in a timely manner, or your application may be denied.
Receive Your Written Determination Notice
Once the USCIS makes a decision on your application, they will inform you by mail. If approved, you will get an approval notice, and your green card will arrive separately at a later date. If your application is denied, your letter should include a detailed reason for the denial.
How Can I Check the Status of My Form I-485?
The processing time for an AOS application can be lengthy. In many cases, it may take anywhere from 12 months to over two years to receive a determination.
You can always check the status of your Form I-485 online using your application’s receipt number. If the process is taking an unreasonably long time, contact your lawyer to discuss your legal options for obtaining a decision sooner.
What if My Application for Adjustment of Status is Denied?
The application process for AOS is complex and may take a long time to complete, so it can be disheartening and frustrating to learn that your application has been denied. However, it doesn’t mean that the process is over. Your decision notice should inform you if you are eligible to appeal your denial. Even though most cases cannot be appealed, there are other legal steps your immigration lawyer can take, such as filing a motion to reopen or reconsider the case.
The path to citizenship can be challenging to navigate on your own. Having a compassionate, experienced Adjustment of Status lawyer on your side can make it simpler and less stressful. Whether you are just beginning your AOS application or if you have hit a roadblock in the process, our law firm can answer your questions and provide the guidance you need. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.