AOS is a critical process for individuals seeking to obtain lawful permanent resident status (a Green Card) without leaving the United States. This pathway is especially valuable for those who are already in the U.S. on a temporary visa and wish to transition to permanent residency. Understanding the eligibility requirements, application process, benefits, and potential challenges is essential for a smooth adjustment of status experience.

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Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for Adjustment of Status, an individual must: 

1. Be present in the U.S.: Applicants must physically be in the United States to apply for Adjustment of Status through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

2. Have an Approved Immigrant Petition: In most cases, an immigrant petition, such as a family sponsorship (Form I-130) or an employment-based petition (Form I-140), VAWA based (I-360); must be approved and current. For immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, visas numbers are immediately  available. Others may need to wait for a visa number to become available in their category. 

3. Have Lawfully Entered the U.S.: Applicants must have been inspected, admitted, or paroled into the United States, except in specific cases like those under Section 245(i) of the Legal Immigration Family Equity (LIFE) Act. 

4. Not Have Unauthorized Entry: Those who have entered the U.S. without inspection might face difficulties unless specific exemptions apply. 

5. Be Admissible: Applicants must not have any grounds of inadmissibility that would prevent them from becoming a lawful permanent resident. This includes factors like criminal records, previous immigration violations, or health-related issues.

  1. Benefits of Adjustment of Status 

  2. 1. Convenience: Applicants can remain in the U.S. during the processing of their application, avoiding the disruption and expense of leaving the country. 
  3. 2. Work and Travel Authorization: While the Adjustment of Status application is pending, applicants can apply for a work permit (Employment Authorization Document) and a travel document (Advance Parole) to travel outside the U.S. without abandoning their application. 
  4. 3. Path to Citizenship: Once granted, a Green Card serves as the primary stepping stone towards becoming a U.S. citizen through the naturalization process.

Application Process 

The Adjustment of Status process generally involves: 

1. Filing Form I-485: This is the main application form for Adjustment of Status. It should be accompanied by supporting documentation, including evidence of an immigrant petition, proof of lawful entry, and other required forms like an affidavit of support for family-based applications. 

2. Biometrics Appointment: Applicants will be scheduled for a biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints, photos, and a signature. This is used for background and security checks. 

3. Interview: Some applicants will be required to attend an interview at a USCIS office. The purpose is to verify the information on the application and assess eligibility for permanent residence (US may waive the interview on a case by case basis and has been doing that more frequently). 

4. Medical Examination: Applicants must undergo a medical examination by a USCIS-approved doctor before filing the application or during the process, depending on the case.

NB: Applicants who have a pending VAWA or an approved I-130 and are/were the spouse or parent of a US Citizen may elect to submit form I-765 (Work Authorization) concurrently with form I-485.

Challenges and Considerations 

1. Processing Times: The time it takes to process an Adjustment of Status application can vary widely based on the applicant's location, the specifics of their case, and USCIS workload. 

2. Potential for Denial: Applications may be denied for various reasons, including ineligibility for adjustment, inadmissibility, or failure to prove the bona fides of a marriage in family-based cases. 

3. Cost: The process involves several fees, including filing fees for the Form I-485 and associated applications for work and travel authorization.

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Given the complexity and high stakes of the Adjustment of Status process, many applicants choose to work with experienced immigration attorneys. Legal representation can provide valuable guidance on navigating the process, preparing the application package, and addressing any issues that may arise, which often gives the applicant a better chance of a favorable outcome. Our firm has submitted hundreds of AOS and has the experience and resources necessary to support clients through the Adjustment of Status process, offering expert legal advice and personalized assistance every step of the way. We understand the nuances of U.S. immigration law and work diligently to help our clients achieve their goal of becoming lawful permanent residents of the United States

Contact Cruise Law Group to schedule a free consultation and to determine your legal options. You can expedite this process by completing our Immigration Intake Form or Call CLG at 888-332-3136