Adjustment of Status (AOS) in U.S. immigration law refers to the process by which certain non-U.S. citizens can apply for lawful permanent resident status (green card) while already present in the United States. This process is an alternative to obtaining an immigrant visa through consular processing abroad.

Here are some key points about Adjustment of Status:

  • Eligibility: Not all foreign nationals are eligible for adjustment of status. Generally, it is available to those who are already in the U.S. in a qualifying non-immigrant status, such as a fiance(e), student, or employee. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens (spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21) often have the option to adjust status.
  • Family or Employment-Based Categories: Adjustment of Status can be pursued through family-sponsored or employment-based categories. Family-sponsored categories include spouses, parents, and unmarried children of U.S. citizens. Employment-based categories are for individuals with approved employment-based immigrant petitions.
  • I-485 Application: The primary form used in the adjustment of status process is Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This form is submitted to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) along with supporting documents and the required filing fees.
  • Biometrics and Interview: Applicants typically undergo a biometric appointment to provide fingerprints, photographs, and a signature. Additionally, an in-person interview with USCIS may be required, especially for employment-based applicants.
  • Travel Restrictions: While the adjustment of status application is pending, international travel can be restricted. Leaving the U.S. without proper authorization may result in abandonment of the application.
  • Green Card Issuance: If the adjustment of status application is approved, the applicant is granted lawful permanent resident status and receives a green card. This allows them to live and work permanently in the United States.

How to apply for Adjustment of Status?

Applying for Adjustment of Status (AOS) in the United States involves several steps. The process can vary depending on the specific category under which you are applying (family-sponsored, employment-based, refugee/asylee, etc.). Here is a general overview of the steps to apply for Adjustment of Status:

  • Determine Eligibility:
    • Ensure that you are eligible for adjustment of status. Eligibility criteria vary depending on the immigration category.
  • File an Immigrant Petition:
    • For family-sponsored AOS, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident family member must file an immigrant petition (such as Form I-130) on your behalf.
    • For employment-based AOS, your employer must file an immigrant petition (such as Form I-140) for you.
  • Check Visa Bulletin:
    • Check the Visa Bulletin published by the U.S. Department of State to ensure that a visa number is available for your category and priority date.
  • File Form I-485:
    • Once a visa number is available, file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
    • Include all required supporting documents, such as identity documents, financial records, and proof of eligibility.
  • Biometric Appointment:
    • Attend a biometric appointment to provide fingerprints, photographs, and a signature.
  • Attend Interview (if required):
    • USCIS may schedule an in-person interview as part of the AOS process. Attend the interview and bring all requested documentation.
  • Receive Decision:
    • USCIS will review your application and supporting documents. If approved, you will receive a Notice of Approval, and USCIS will mail your green card.
  • Wait for Green Card:
    • Once approved, you will receive your green card by mail. This document grants you lawful permanent resident status.
  • Understand Travel Restrictions:
    • Be aware of travel restrictions during the AOS process. Leaving the U.S. without proper authorization may impact your application.

What documents are required for Adjustment of Status?

The specific documents required for Adjustment of Status (AOS) can vary depending on the immigrant category, family or employment-based, and individual circumstances. However, here is a general list of documents commonly required for the AOS process:

  • Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status:
    • The primary application form for AOS.
  • Form I-130 (if family-sponsored) or Form I-140 (if employment-based):
    • The immigrant petition filed by a qualifying family member or employer.
  • Photographs:
    • Passport-style photographs meeting USCIS specifications.
  • Copy of Passport:
    • A copy of the biographical page of your current passport.
  • Copy of Birth Certificate:
    • A copy of your birth certificate with a certified translation if it is not in English.
  • Copy of Marriage Certificate (if applicable):
    • For married applicants, a copy of the marriage certificate.
  • Copy of Divorce or Death Certificates (if applicable):
    • If you were previously married, provide copies of divorce decrees or death certificates of former spouses.
  • Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record:
    • A completed and sealed medical examination form performed by an approved USCIS civil surgeon.
  • Proof of Financial Support (Affidavit of Support):
    • Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, along with supporting documents demonstrating the petitioner’s ability to financially support the immigrant.
  • Employment Authorization Document (EAD) (if applicable):
    • If you are applying for work authorization while the AOS application is pending, include Form I-765 and supporting documents.
  • Advance Parole Document (if applicable):
    • If you plan to travel outside the U.S. while the AOS application is pending, include Form I-131 and supporting documents.
  • Proof of Legal Entry (if applicable):
    • If you entered the U.S. legally, provide a copy of your visa and the most recent Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record.
  • Court Records (if applicable):
    • If you have ever been arrested or convicted, provide certified court disposition records.
  • Any Other Supporting Documents:
    • USCIS may request additional documents based on your specific circumstances.