Applying for an Adjustment of Immigration Status to Stay in the U.S.?

If you have a family it’s not ideal for you to leave the country to fix your legal status. You don’t want to leave your loved ones behind, and more importantly, you may be the main provider for your family. This article will show you how you can adjust your status without leaving the U.S. and help you determine if you’re eligible to begin the process.

What is an adjustment of immigration status? This is a process that helps a non-resident become a lawful permanent resident of the United States without having to return to their home country and apply for an immigrant visa from their homeland.

Eligibility for Adjustment of Immigration Status

In order to qualify for an adjustment of status, you must have entered the U.S. legally and be in the United States. There are some exceptions such as in the case of battered spouses. If you want more information for some of the exceptions that can help you qualify for an adjustment of status look at the information for form I-360.

Why is eligibility important? When you no longer have legal status in the U.S. you begin to accrue unlawful status. This is when you stay in the United States without any legal permission to be there such as after your visa expires. After unlawfully being in the U.S. for more than 180 days you could be prohibited from re-entering the country for 3 to 10 years. It’s easy to understand why someone would want to adjust their status within the U.S. if possible. Since they could avoid leaving the country altogether.

How can you figure out if you qualify?

As we mentioned previously, not everyone qualifies for an adjustment of status. What are some of the requirements that you should be aware of?

  • First, you need to already be eligible for a green card, whether you’re applying through a family member, employer, or by any other means.
  • You must be physically located in the United States.
  • You also must have entered the U.S. legally. There are some exceptions to this rule, but it’s best to consult with a lawyer to see if your situation qualifies as one of those exceptions.

Steps to Apply for an Adjustment of Status

If you believe that you qualify for an adjustment of status, you need to follow a few steps to make sure the process is handled correctly.

  1. First, make sure you’ve filed a petition. You can do this by filing form I-130, I-140, or I-360 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. It’s important that you receive notification that the USCIS has approved your petition before proceeding. If they haven’t notified you, then it’s not possible to file for an adjustment of status.
  2. Once your petition has been approved, you can go ahead and check if there are still visas available that year. You don’t want your application to be rejected just because there are no visas available.
  3. Next, you’ll have to submit form I-485 to apply for permanent residency. As with the petition, it’s important that these forms be filled out completely and correctly. It’s a good idea to get the help of a lawyer when filing these forms. They have the expertise to make sure your application is not rejected because it wasn’t filled out correctly.
  4. Then you’ll have to take care of biometrics and any requested interviews. The USCIS will request that you come in for fingerprints and for a photo. Sometimes they will also request that you be interviewed. Bring all of your legal information to these interviews to make sure they go smoothly.
  5. Finally, you’ll need to wait and see what they decide. USCIS will contact you in writing to let you know if your petition has been approved. If you receive a notification by email or telephone of your approval, be very careful. This is likely a scam to try to steal your personal information and money.

What are my Next Steps?

If you are in a situation where you may qualify for an adjustment of status, it would be smart to talk to an experienced immigration attorney. They can help you determine eligibility, guide you through the process, and make sure you know all of your options.

At Robichaud, Schroepfer & Correia, P.A., we strive to keep families together by helping them navigate the complex legal system successfully. If you would like to set up a consultation and figure out options for your situation, contact us today.