Guide to Adjustment of Status for U.S. Immigration
Have you been living in the U.S. on a temporary visa or without status and seeking to make your stay permanent? You will need to undergo the adjustment of status (AOS) process to get your permanent resident card. Here is an overview of the steps to adjustment of status.
1. Determine Your Eligibility for a Green Card
There are different categories of green card, and each one under its own eligibility criteria. One can think of them as falling into one of three types; there are family-based green cards, employment-based green cards, and green card in some special categories of humanitarian based green cards for refugees, asylees, victims of abuse and other special cases. The category you are applying for will determine your eligibility requirements. You can check your eligibility requirements here.
2. Filing of Immigrant Petition
Most green card categories require someone to file your immigrant petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on your behalf, while some allow you to file the petition yourself. This is dependent on the eligibility requirements for the category you are applying for. Whether you are being sponsored by someone else or you are self-sponsoring your petition, one of the following immigrant petition forms must be submitted to USCIS, depending on the category:
- Family-Based Petition: Form I-130
- Employment-Based Petition: Form I-140
- Refugee/Asylee Petition: Form I-730
- Application for Asylum and for Withholding Removal: Form I-589
- Immigrant Entrepreneur Petition: Form I-526
- Petition for U Nonimmigrant Status: Form I-918
- Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant: Form I-360
- Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant: Form I-929
3. Check Immigrant Visa Availability
After submitting their immigrant petition, most green card categories require applicants to queue on the waiting line for the availability of an immigrant visa. For a few categories, however, there is always availability of visas. For instance, if your adjustment of status is sponsored by a lawful permanent resident family member, particularly someone other than a spouse, you will most likely have to queue on the waiting line due to the limited number of visas in that category. On the other hand, if you an immediate relative (child or spouse) of a U.S. citizen, you would not have to wait as with sponsorship through an immediate family relative adjustment of status may take place immediately.
4. File Form I-485
All adjustment of status applicants must file Form I-485 petition during their application process. Unlike the immigrant petition that mostly requires having someone file on your behalf, Form I-485, Adjustment of Status Petition must be submitted by you (the applicant/beneficiary). If you are applying as an immediate family relative of a U.S. citizen, you can submit your I-485 petition concurrently (at the same time) with the immigrant petition or at any time thereafter.However, if there is a limited number of visas in your own category, you must wait until an immigrant visa is available for you before you can submit your Form I-485.
5. Attend Adjustment of Status Appointments and Interview
After receiving the Form I-485 petition, USCIS will send the applicant a mail containing information on how to complete your biometrics. They will also be scheduled for an interview (if applicable). Ensure you attend the appointments and complete all the required procedures.
6. Receive a Decision and Get Your Green Card
USCIS has the prerogative to review an adjustment of status application and after that, decide whether to approve or deny it. You will receive the decision on your petition after completing all the above processes. If the adjustment of status application is approved, the applicant will receive their green card. This is also known as Permanent Resident Card, which will be received little later after the decision.