What is adjustment of status?

If you are a foreign visitor or tourist to the United States who wants to become a permanent resident, you have two pathways: consular processing and adjustment of status.

Unlike consular processing, adjustment of status (AOS) is for those visitors or tourists who are already currently in the United States. AOS is also more focused “on the applicant’s eligibility and admissibility,” than their ties to the person they are applying through.

To better help you understand if adjustment of status is for you, we will review general eligibility requirements and the five main steps to the process.

Who is eligible to adjust their status?

AOS eligibility will vary based on an applicant’s reason for adjusting and the specifics of their case.

In general, however, there are two main requirements every applicant must meet.

1. You must be currently in the United States at the time you submit your application.

2. You must have entered the United States lawfully. That means you entered through a designated port of entry (i.e. airport, ship port, checkpoint, etc.) and had contact with an immigration officer who admitted you into the United States.

There are other eligibility requirements based on the immigration category you are applying under.

What are the steps to adjustment of status?

The steps involved will vary depending on an applicant’s eligibility category and their specific case. In general, regardless of your reason for filing, there are usually five steps in the process.

1. Determine your eligibility and file your initial petition

First, you must determine if you are eligible for a legal permanent resident card (green card). There are eight green card eligibility categories recognized by USCIS.

If you determine you are eligible for a green card, the person who will be sponsoring you must file the appropriate petition on your behalf.

The most common petitions are based on family (Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative) or employment (Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers).

2. File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status

All applicant’s regardless of their reason for filing under AOS must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Resident or Adjust Status.

In general, for you to be able to file Form I-485 there must be an available visa in your eligibility category. Available visas are published every month in the Visa Bulletin on the State Department’s website.

For most cases, you must also file this form after your initial petition. However, there are a few cases in which you can file this form concurrently with your initial petition.

You can also watch USCIS’s video on the form below.

3. Attend your biometrics appointment

Once Form I-485 and any other required forms have been filed, USCIS will send you a notice through the mail with a time, date, and location for a biometrics appointment.

At this appointment, USCIS will gather your fingerprints, photograph, and signature in order to verify your identity and run a background check.

You may also be asked to sign a paper that acknowledges you filled out all the information in your petition correctly and that all information is true.

To find more information about preparing for your appointment, visit USCIS’s page on Preparing for Your Biometric Services Appointment.

4. Attend your interview at USCIS (if applicable)

In some cases, USCIS may review your application and determine that you need to come in for an additional interview at a USCIS office.

In such cases, USCIS will send you a notice through the mail with the time, date, and location of your interview.

During the interview, a USCIS officer will go over any remaining questions USCIS has about your application. In some cases, you and the person who sponsored you may be required to bring the originals of documents you submitted with your application.

You can also have your attorney attend this meeting with you. Our firm always recommends that our clients attend with their attorney regardless of the reason USCIS calls for the interview.

5. Receive your green card

After you have submitted your application and attended all required appointments/meetings, you can periodically check the status of your application at USCIS’s Case Status Online page. There is no set time for when an application will be approved or denied.

If USCIS approves your application, you will first receive a written notice through the mail stating your application has been approved. USCIS will then also send you your permanent resident card (green card) through the mail.

Important: It is very important that the address you give on Form I-485 is both a safe mailing address and your current address as USCIS will be sending your notice of approval and your green card to the address listed on Form I-485. Also of note, USCIS will not send any sort of document to a P.O. box address.

If USCIS denies your application, you will only receive the written notice detailing the reasons why your application was denied and whether or not you are eligible for appeal. In most cases, USCIS’s decision is final and you cannot appeal.

Helpful Links

The USCIS website is the best source of information for all immigration matters.

For specifics on adjustment of status, visit the following pages for more information.

USCIS page on adjustment of status
the USCIS Policy Manual sections on adjustment of status
USCIS page on green card eligibility
USCIS page on Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
USCIS’s list of address to file Form I-485
USCIS page on concurrent filing
USCIS page on preparing for biometrics
USCIS page on the immigrant fee
The Visa Bulletin website
USCIS page to check your status

Do you need help with your adjustment of status?

Elkhalil Law, P.C. is here to help if you need assistance adjusting your status. We are open Monday-Friday from 9-5 (EST) at 1950 North Park Place NW #550 Atlanta, GA 30339.

You can also call us at (+1) 770-612-3499, contact us on WhatsApp at (+1) 678-900-6845, or email us at info@elkhalillaw.com.

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Disclaimer: Nothing in relation to the enclosed information should be construed and or considered as legal advice for any individual, entity, case, or situation. The following information is prepared for advertisement use only. The information is intended ONLY to be general and should not be relied upon for any specific situation. For legal advice on your specific situation, we encourage you to consult an attorney experienced in the area of Immigration Law.