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What is Adjustment of Status?

08th December 2010
By Paul Anderson in Immigration Law
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If you are already in the US and are eligible to apply for a green card based on being sponsored by an employer or family member or based on holding asylee or refugee status, you can apply for adjustment of status by filing Form I-485 with the USCIS. If you are abroad, you need to go through consular processing at the embassy in your country.

Applying for Adjustment of Immigration Status:

In simple terms, if you are currently in the U.S. and have an approved immigrant petition, you will be eligible to file an application to adjust status to a permanent resident of the US. Unless you are applying in a category for which visa numbers are always available, you must have a “current” Priority Date in order to be eligible to file. Priority date is the date that your immigrant petition is filed. The Department of State publishes a monthly Visa Bulletin that informs applicants when their Priority Date is current. You should wait for your Priority Date to become current before you can apply for a green card.

If you are applying based on your relationship with a U.S. Citizen, then the spouse, the parent or child may be eligible to file the adjustment of status application at the same time that the immigrant petition is submitted. Additionally, if you are an individual who held asylee or refugee status for one year or more, even you will be able to file for adjustment of status. However, if you are outside the U.S., you cannot file an adjustment of status application. In such cases, you can get green card status by applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate in your country. The I-485 form can also be used by certain Cuban nationals to request a change in the date that their permanent residence began in the US.

You need to file Form I-485 with the needed supporting documents and fees with the USCIS. If you are 79 years of age or older, you will not be charged a biometric fee. If you are filing this form on the basis of being admitted to the United States as a refugee, then you need not pay any fee. After you send the adjustment of status application to the USCIS, and while it is being processed, you can travel outside the United States. But you need to get advance permission called Advance Parole to return to the U.S.

After processing, if your application is denied, USCIS will send you a letter that will tell you why the application was denied. Currently, if you are not in a legal status in the US, the process to remove you from the country will begin as soon as your application is denied. In such a case, you can have an immigration judge review the denial of your application during removal proceedings. During this review, Immigration officials should prove that the facts on your I-485 application were untruthful and that your application was rightly denied. After this, if the immigration judge decides to remove you from the country, you can still appeal this decision. Normally, you can appeal within 33 days after the immigration judge decided to remove you from the country.
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