What is Adjustment of Status?
Adjustment of Status (AOS) is a process by which certain foreign nationals who are physically present in the United States can apply to change their immigration status from a non-immigrant category (such as a student visa or tourist visa) to that of a lawful permanent resident, commonly known as a “green card” holder. In essence, it’s the process of transitioning from temporary immigration status to permanent residency without leaving the U.S.
Here are the key points to understand about Adjustment of Status:
Eligibility: Not everyone is eligible for Adjustment of Status. You may be eligible if you fall into one of the following categories:
- Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses, unmarried children under 21, parents if the U.S. citizen is over 21).
- Certain family-sponsored preference categories.
- Employment-based immigrant visa categories.
- Diversity visa lottery winners.
- Asylees and refugees.
Application Process: The process for Adjustment of Status involves the following steps:
- File Form I-485: This is the main application form for Adjustment of Status. You will file Form I-485 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- Biometrics Appointment: You’ll be required to attend a biometrics appointment where your fingerprints, photograph, and signature will be taken.
- Work and Travel Authorization: You can file Form I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) and Form I-131 (Application for Travel Document) concurrently with Form I-485. This allows you to work and travel while your green card application is pending.
- Interview: USCIS may require you to attend an in-person interview to discuss your application and provide any necessary documentation.
- Decision: After reviewing your application and conducting any necessary interviews, USCIS will make a decision on your Adjustment of Status application.
- Green Card Issuance: If your application is approved, you’ll be issued a green card, which grants you lawful permanent residency.
- The Adjustment of Status process can take time, and the timeline can vary based on your individual circumstances and the USCIS workload.
- It’s crucial to maintain your non-immigrant status while your Adjustment of Status application is pending.
- Certain categories may have visa number limits, which can affect the timing of your application.
Immigration laws and procedures can change, so it’s recommended to consult official U.S. government sources or seek assistance from an experienced immigration attorney if you’re considering applying for Adjustment of Status.
Tips for successful Adjustment of Status application
A successful Adjustment of Status (AOS) application is crucial for obtaining lawful permanent residency (green card) in the United States. Here are some tips to help ensure a smooth and successful AOS application process:
- Thoroughly Review Eligibility Criteria: Make sure you are eligible for AOS based on your current immigration status, family relationship, or employment category. Understanding your eligibility is the first step towards a successful application.
- Stay Informed: Keep up-to-date with the latest U.S. immigration laws and regulations, as they can change. Rely on official government sources and reputable immigration attorneys for accurate information.
- Complete Accurate Forms: Fill out all required forms accurately and truthfully. Double-check your information before submitting, as errors or inconsistencies can lead to delays or denials.
- Submit Complete Documentation: Include all required supporting documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, and employment letters. Provide clear copies and translations if necessary.
- Organize Your Application: Use labeled tabs or dividers to organize your application package. This makes it easier for USCIS officers to locate specific documents.
- Provide Sufficient Evidence: Provide evidence of your bona fide marriage (if applicable), employment history, and financial stability. The more thorough and convincing your evidence, the better your chances of approval.
- Write Clear Affidavit of Support: If required, provide a detailed and accurate Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) from the sponsoring family member or employer. Make sure the financial information is current and verifiable.
- Prepare for the Interview: If an interview is scheduled, prepare thoroughly. Review your application, practice answering potential questions, and bring all requested documents to the interview.
- Stay In Status: Maintain your current non-immigrant status while your AOS application is pending. Falling out of status can have negative implications for your application.
- Timely Filing: File your AOS application as soon as you’re eligible. Certain categories have visa number limitations, so applying early can help ensure you’re not affected by potential delays.
- Follow USCIS Instructions: Adhere to USCIS instructions for submitting fees, forms, and supporting documents. Pay attention to details such as the correct mailing address and payment method.
- Stay Updated on Case Status: After submitting your application, check your case status regularly using the USCIS online system. Be prepared to respond promptly if USCIS requests additional information or documentation.
- Consult an Immigration Attorney: If you have any doubts or complexities in your case, consider consulting an experienced immigration attorney. They can provide personalized guidance and help navigate potential challenges.
- Be Patient: The AOS process can take time, and processing times can vary. Patience is important as you wait for USCIS to review and make a decision on your application.
Remember that each case is unique, and there’s no guaranteed formula for success. Being organized, thorough, and adhering to the rules and regulations will significantly improve your chances of a successful Adjustment of Status application.
Common mistakes to avoid when filing Adjustment of Status application with USCIS
Filing an Adjustment of Status (AOS) application with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requires attention to detail and accuracy. Avoiding common mistakes can help ensure a smoother process and increase the likelihood of approval. Here are some common mistakes to steer clear of when filing your AOS application:
- Incomplete or Inaccurate Forms: Ensure that all forms are fully completed, and information provided is accurate and consistent throughout your application.
- Missing Supporting Documents: Include all required supporting documents, such as birth certificates, marriage certificates, passport copies, and financial evidence. Failure to provide required documents can lead to delays or denials.
- Incorrect or Outdated Forms: Always use the most recent versions of USCIS forms. Using outdated forms can result in your application being rejected.
- Ignoring Instructions: Carefully follow USCIS instructions for form submission, payment, and documentation. Incorrectly submitted forms or payment can lead to rejection.
- Not Including Translation: If any of your documents are in a language other than English, provide certified translations along with the original documents.
- Missing Signatures: Make sure all required signatures are included on forms. Unsigned forms will be considered incomplete.
- Mismatched Fees: Check USCIS’s fee schedule and submit the correct payment. Paying the wrong fee or an incorrect amount can lead to processing delays.
- Late Submission: File your AOS application before your current non-immigrant status expires. Filing after your status expires could lead to complications.
- Not Maintaining Non-Immigrant Status: While your AOS application is pending, make sure you continue to comply with the terms of your non-immigrant status to avoid falling out of status.
- Neglecting the Medical Examination: Ensure you complete the required medical examination by an approved panel physician and submit the results with your application.
- Incorrect Address: Use the correct mailing address provided by USCIS on their official website. Sending your application to the wrong address can cause delays.
- Lack of Continuity: Maintain consistency between your AOS application and any previous applications you’ve submitted to USCIS.
- Not Responding to Requests for Evidence (RFEs): If USCIS issues a Request for Evidence (RFE), respond promptly and provide the requested documentation. Failure to respond may result in application denial.
- Not Checking Case Status: Regularly check your AOS application status using the USCIS online system. This helps you stay informed about any updates or requests.
- Ignoring Correspondence: Keep an eye on your mailbox and email for correspondence from USCIS. Respond promptly to any requests or notifications.
- Failing to Notify USCIS of Address Change: If you move while your AOS application is pending, update your address with USCIS using Form AR-11 to ensure you receive important notices.
- Missing Biometrics Appointment: Attend your scheduled biometrics appointment. Failing to appear can lead to processing delays.
To avoid these and other potential mistakes, carefully review USCIS instructions, consult official sources, and consider seeking advice from an experienced immigration attorney. The AOS process is significant, and attention to detail can greatly impact the outcome of your application.