An adjustment of status (ASO) is available for individuals — usually family members, fiancés, students or temporary resident employees of a U.S. business — who wish to apply for permanent residency (a “green card”) in the U.S. without traveling back to their native country to go through consular immigration processing.
Section 245 of the INA (Immigration & Nationality Act) is the statute that governs this process.
Adjustment of status must be distinguished from “change of status”, which generally applies to non-immigrants switching from one non-immigrant status to another.
Individuals admitted to the U.S. in a non-immigrant, refugee or parolee category may have their status changed to that of lawful permanent resident if they are eligible to receive an immigrant visa and one is immediately available.
In October 1994, section 245(i) of the INA was enacted. This allowed certain alien residents, who entered without inspection or overstayed their authorized stay, but who were differently eligible for immigrant status to remain in the U.S. and adjust to permanent resident status by paying an additional penalty fee, thus avoid deportation proceedings.
Section 245(i) is no longer available unless the individual is the beneficiary of an application for labor certification or a preference petition (under section 204 of the INA) filed on or before April 30, 2001.
The individual who wishes to adjust status must then usually file a petition to make this request. If the individual is basing his or her request on family status, the eligible United States Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident must file Form I-130 on the immigrant’s behalf.
Individuals who are seeking adjustment based on employment must usually have their current or potential United States employer file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker for the immigrant.
In some instances, an immigrant may be able to file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with their immigrant petition. Typically, this option is available for individuals who are the beneficiaries of a family based Visa. Other individuals who have a visa that is immediately available to them may also be able to file both petitions at the same time.
Otherwise, an individual must check visa availability and priority dates with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services site. A Form I-485 cannot be filed until there is a corresponding available visa.
Benefits of Adjustment of Status
• The applicant is granted legal permission to stay in USA while the application is processed.
• An adjustment of status applicant is granted permission to work in United States while his case is pending. This is known as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
• Another advantage is the permission to travel. The applicant can travel between the US and other countries. This travel document is known as Advance Parole.
• It is also possible to apply for a green card besides the application for status.
• The applicant does not have to leave USA to receive an immigrant visa
All forms required for permanent residency can be found on the USCIS website
Moreover, immigrants may be required to attend an interview at a USCIS office. Prior to the interview, the applicant will receive notification of the date, time and location for the interview. During this process, they will be required to answer questions under oath. Additionally, the immigrant must provide original documents as requested by USCIS.