Adjustment of Status (AOS) is a process within the United States immigration system that allows certain eligible nonimmigrants and immigrants to apply for lawful permanent resident status (green card) without having to leave the United States. In other words, it allows individuals who are already present in the U.S. to change their status from a temporary nonimmigrant visa holder or parolee to a lawful permanent resident.
Typically, Adjustment of Status is available to individuals who meet specific eligibility criteria, including but not limited to:
- Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens: This category includes spouses, unmarried children under 21, and parents of U.S. citizens who are at least 21 years old.
- Family-sponsored preference categories: Certain family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents may be eligible to adjust their status based on their relationship with the sponsor.
- Employment-based categories: Individuals who have been sponsored for a green card by a U.S. employer in specific employment-based visa categories.
- Diversity Visa Lottery winners: Individuals who have been selected as winners in the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery program.
- Refugee or Asylee status: Refugees and asylees who have been granted protection in the United States may also apply for adjustment of status.
It’s essential to note that not everyone is eligible for adjustment of status, and some individuals may be required to go through consular processing in their home country instead. Additionally, certain grounds of inadmissibility or other immigration violations may affect an individual’s eligibility for AOS.
The Adjustment of Status process involves filing the appropriate forms and supporting documents with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Applicants may also need to attend an interview at a USCIS field office as part of the process.
If the adjustment of status application is approved, the individual will become a lawful permanent resident and receive a green card, granting them the right to live and work permanently in the United States. However, if the application is denied, the applicant may be subject to removal proceedings if they have no other valid immigration status. Therefore, it is crucial to ensure eligibility and seek proper legal advice when applying for Adjustment of Status.
What Is the Purpose of the Adjustment of Status?
The primary purpose of the Adjustment of Status (AOS) process is to allow eligible individuals who are already present in the United States to apply for lawful permanent resident status (green card) without having to leave the country. This process helps streamline the path to permanent residency for certain immigrants and nonimmigrants who meet specific criteria and allows them to remain in the U.S. while their application is being processed.
The key objectives and benefits of the Adjustment of Status are as follows:
- Family Unity: AOS enables family members of U.S. citizens and permanent residents to be together in the United States. Immediate relatives, such as spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21 of U.S. citizens, have priority in the AOS process, promoting family unity.
- Employment-Based Immigration: For individuals in certain employment-based visa categories, AOS provides a way to transition from a temporary work visa (such as an H-1B or L-1 visa) to permanent residency, allowing them to live and work in the U.S. indefinitely.
- Humanitarian Relief: Refugees and asylees who have been granted protection in the United States can use AOS to become lawful permanent residents, offering them a more stable and permanent solution to their immigration status erratichour.
- Diversity Visa Lottery Winners: The Diversity Visa Lottery program allows individuals from countries with low immigration rates to the U.S. to enter a lottery for a chance to receive a green card. AOS allows selected lottery winners who are already in the U.S. to adjust their status and obtain permanent residency.
- Avoiding Travel Restrictions: For some individuals with certain visa types, leaving the United States to undergo consular processing can trigger various bars and travel restrictions. AOS enables them to avoid these issues and complete the green card process without leaving the U.S.
- Convenience and Efficiency: AOS eliminates the need for applicants to travel back to their home country for consular processing, which can be time-consuming, costly, and pose risks of being denied re-entry into the U.S.
It’s essential to understand that not everyone is eligible for Adjustment of Status, and the eligibility criteria vary depending on the applicant’s immigration status, relationship with a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, and other factors. The purpose of AOS is to provide a legal and straightforward way for eligible individuals to become lawful permanent residents, leading them one step closer to potentially obtaining U.S. citizenship in the future.
The eligibility criteria for Adjustment of Status (AOS) in the United States depend on the specific immigrant category and the individual’s current immigration status. Below are some of the common categories of individuals who may qualify for AOS:
- Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens:
- Spouse of a U.S. citizen
- Unmarried child under 21 years old of a U.S. citizen
- Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old (the U.S. citizen must be the child’s petitioner)
- Family-Sponsored Preference Categories:
- Spouse and unmarried children (minor and adult) of U.S. permanent residents (green card holders)
- Unmarried children (minor and adult) of U.S. citizens
- Married children of U.S. citizens
- Siblings of U.S. citizens (the U.S. citizen petitioner must be at least 21 years old)
- Employment-Based Categories:
- Foreign workers who are sponsored by a U.S. employer in specific employment-based immigrant visa categories, such as EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3.
- Refugees and Asylees:
- Individuals who were granted asylum in the United States or have refugee status.
- Diversity Visa Lottery Winners:
- Individuals who have been selected as winners in the Diversity Visa (DV) Lottery program and meet the eligibility requirements.
- Special Immigrants:
- Certain individuals who have been granted special immigrant status, such as religious workers, international organization employees, and Afghan or Iraqi nationals who have assisted the U.S. government.
- Victims of Abuse:
- Certain victims of domestic violence (VAWA self-petitioners) who are married to U.S. citizens or permanent residents and have been subjected to abuse by their U.S. citizen or permanent resident spouse.
It’s important to note that while Adjustment of Status is available to individuals in the above categories, not everyone qualifies. There are specific requirements and conditions that applicants must meet, and certain grounds of inadmissibility or immigration violations may affect eligibility. Additionally, there may be numerical limitations (quotas) on certain visa categories, which can impact processing times.
Moreover, individuals who are in the U.S. without lawful status may face additional challenges and may need to obtain a waiver for certain violations or unlawful presence before applying for AOS.
If you believe you may be eligible for Adjustment of Status, it is crucial to seek guidance from an experienced immigration attorney or consult the official website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the most up-to-date and accurate information regarding eligibility and application procedures.