Individuals who are already in the United States and fall within a green card category may be eligible for adjustment of immigration status. However, they must have entered the country legally (using a valid visa or a visa waiver program), and they must ensure that an immigrant visa is available for their category.
Employment-Based Adjustment of Status
The employment-based adjustment of status process allows certain foreign nationals within the United States to obtain lawful permanent residency (commonly known as a “green card”) without leaving the country. Boundless can help you navigate this complex process.
The first step is for your employer to file an immigrant visa petition, form I-140, with USCIS. You can then apply for an adjustment of status based on that approved petition.
Generally, the EB-2 category includes professionals with at least a U.S. baccalaureate degree or its foreign equivalent and individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics. The EB-3 category encompasses skilled workers and others who meet minimum qualifications for an occupational classification.
You may also qualify for a green card under the DV lottery program or on humanitarian grounds. Once you have been a permanent resident for three years, you can then apply to become a naturalized citizen. However, it’s important to note that the process is not a guarantee and will take time.
Family-Based Adjustment of Status
The United States government allows citizens and green card holders to sponsor immigrant family members for permanent residency. This process is known as family-based adjustment of status. Spouses, children under 21 years old, parents, and siblings of a citizen or green card holder can use this method to become permanent residents without waiting in the visa backlog for employment-based immigrant visas.
Aliens who seek to change their immigration status through family-based adjustment must also meet certain requirements. For example, they must be able to demonstrate that they or their sponsoring family member has the financial means of supporting themselves. Additionally, they must not be a public charge.
Those seeking to apply for family-based adjustment must undergo an interview with officers from USCIS. The officer will ask questions regarding the nature of their relationship and other facets of their life. A spouse may have to attend the interview as well if they are applying on behalf of their husband or wife.
Asylum Adjustment of Status
Those who have been granted asylum in the United States and have been in the country for one year can apply to adjust their status to permanent residents. This allows them to obtain a green card, and also opens up more opportunities for employment and other benefits that are not available to non-permanent-status immigrants.
Applicants for adjustment of status must submit all required documents, including proof of lawful entry and physical presence in the country, as well as a certified copy of the immigration judge’s or BIA’s decision. They must also attend an interview with a USCIS officer.
However, the CIS officer will only focus on the applicant’s eligibility for adjustment to LPR status and not question them about their underlying asylum claim. This is because, as the BIA noted in Mahmood v. Session, the fact that an asylee is adjusting their status does not change their ability to reapply for asylum, withholding of removal or relief under the Convention Against Torture.
Refugee Adjustment of Status
Refugees undergo an extensive screening process to qualify for resettlement in the United States. They go through medical screenings, cultural orientation and sponsorship assurances. After completing this screening process, refugees are referred to the International Organization for Migration for transportation to America. Refugees in this category may apply for permanent residency after one year of physical presence in the United States.
Asylees and refugees both meet the basic requirement of fearing persecution in their country of origin. Unlike asylees, refugees are outside of their home country and are unwilling or unable to return because of this persecution. The persecution can be based on race, religion, political opinion or membership in a particular social group.
Both asylees and refugees are eligible to apply for permanent residence if their spouse and unmarried children who are 21 years of age or older are also applying. They must complete a separate adjustment of status application packet for each family member who meets the requirements for derivative asylee or refugee status.