Anyone who has legitimate business in the United States may enter the country, on any number of valid immigrant visas. If they wish to remain in the country, they can do so, using a procedure called adjustment of status (AOS). However, they need to meet the criteria to do so, and not everyone will be able to. Understanding what the criteria are can save you money and trouble, as you can try to correct anything that needs correcting before you take the time to file.
Am I Eligible?
Before starting to file to adjust your status, you must determine whether or not you are eligible to do so from inside the country (in addition to knowing you are eligible for a green card, to begin with, meaning that you cannot have had any past immigration trouble, among other requirements). Some people can adjust status while still in the U.S., while others must leave and go through what the State Department calls consular processing in their home country.
Generally, to be able to adjust status from within the U.S., you must be present lawfully, and a visa must be immediately available. However, because family preference categories (for non-immediate relatives, such as siblings or adult children) are constantly over-subscribed, this almost always means that only immediate relatives like spouses and minor children can adjust status from inside the U.S. since there is no wait time for their visas. There are exceptions, but they are exceedingly rare.
Two Petitions Usually Required
Many people think that if they file to adjust status, that is the only paperwork necessary, but this is not the case. In reality, anyone who wishes to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident (LPR; a green card holder) needs to have an approved immigrant petition in their case, as well. An immigrant petition is filed by either your employer (if your visa will be employment-based) or by your qualifying family member - the U.S. citizen whose relationship to you is the basis for your claim, such as your spouse, parent, or child. In some cases, you may file concurrent petitions (at the same time) but in some others, you must wait until you have an approved immigrant petition before filing to adjust status.
Be advised that if you are denied to adjust status after complying with all requirements, this does not necessarily mean that you may not become an LPR. For some, it will mean that they must leave the U.S. and go through consular processing. Your denial notice should specify what exactly is lacking, so as not to make you assume that you are somehow inadmissible or deportable when in reality there may be some correctable error.
Seek Experienced Legal Counsel
Adjusting status to that of an LPR is the end game for many people, and getting to the point where you can do so is exciting. To ensure that all goes well, enlisting an experienced immigration attorney is a good idea. The dedicated Chicago immigration lawyers at Mevorah Law Offices LLC are happy to try and help you with your case. Call us today to set up a free consultation.
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