Adjustment of Status / Consular Processing
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Adjustment of status refers to the legal process used to apply for lawful permanent resident status from within the United States. This is also known as applying for a green card, which allows an immigrant to reside legally within the United States and work. With an adjustment of status an immigrant can apply to change their status without returning to their home country if you have already been either admitted or paroled into the United States. Being paroled into the United States means you were physically allowed to enter but are not considered to have entered legally.
If you are an immigrant who is already in the United States, would like to remain here, and can maintain a valid immigration status for the next 2.5 years, you may be able to apply for an adjustment of status.
Adjustment of Status Process
Before applying for adjustment of status, an individual must make sure they are eligible for a green card and figure out under which category they qualify to apply under. The three categories to choose from for an adjustment of status are:
- Family-based green card
- Employment-based green card
- Refugee/Asylee green card
Family Based Green Card
If you are the relative of a U.S. citizen or green card holder, you can apply for an adjustment of status using this path. If you are a spouse, parent, or unmarried minor child of a U.S. citizen your application will be prioritized. Otherwise, your place “in line” is determined by the date your application is received.
Employment-Based Green Card
If your employer will be sponsoring your green card application for work purposes, often the immigration form you need to use confirms that the employer has a job opening for which you are qualified and for which they were unable to find an equally qualified U.S. worker. With this application, for an additional $2,500 fee payable to the immigration department, they will prioritize your application. If this premium processing avenue is chosen, your application will only take between 14-45 days to process.
Refugee / Asylee Green Card
If you were admitted to the United States as a refugee or were granted asylum in the U.S., you can apply for adjustement of status after maintaining refugee/asylee status for a period of one year. If you are the spouse or unmarried minor child of someone already admitted into the United States as a refugee and granted asylum, you may also apply under this category. These types of petitions need to be filed at the Texas Service Center.
Once it is established that you meet one of the above criteria, you can begin the application process. The steps are as follows:
- First step is to figure out which form you need and make sure to fill the form out precisely and accurately. You will have to pay the appropriate filing fees and submit any supporting documents required.
- USCIS will review your petition and let you know if they need anything else in order to process it. This can take anywhere from a few months to more than a year. Once your petition is granted, you can find out when a visa in your category will become available by checking the website. Petitioners for a family based green card have no wait, but other types of petitioners may have to wait years for a visa to become available.
- When the visa becomes available, there is an adjustment of status form that must be filled out, as well as other optional paperwork that allows you to work and travel legally while waiting for the decision. You will pay the appropriate fees for this form at this time and submit photos and any supporting documentation required. You will be given a biometrics appointment where you will have to submit to fingerprinting and eye scans.
- The USCIS may or may not require an in-person interview after conducting your background check. Your responses to any in-person questions will be given under oath in this interview.
- After this interview, if no further interviews are deemed necessary, the decision will be made to grant or deny your application. If approved, you will be mailed your green card. If denied, there is an appeal process you may choose to pursue.
Cost of an Adjustment Status
There are fees associated with any immigration application. Whatever fees are required for your initial petition (which depends on what category you fall under) must be paid first. If you would like to expedite your employment petition, there is a $2,500 fee for premium processing. When filing the adjustment of status, the fee for most people is $1140, plus an $85 fee for the biometrics processing. These fees are waived if you are applying as a refugee and in some other categories.
Please note that all of these fees are current at the time of this writing but you should check the USCIS website for the most updated fee schedules and for variations in pricing for different age groups.
Consular Processing is for those who would like to apply for resident status in the U.S. but are still in their home country. In this situation you would apply at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy closest to where you live and emigrate to the United States after being granted residency. The steps to do so are as follows:
- First, you must find out whether you are eligible to apply for a green card, and if so which type.
- Next, you must file the Immigrant Petition with any documentation and fees required.
- Then, you wait for a decision.
- If your petition is approved, you wait for notification from the National Visa Center about when a visa becomes available and when to pay the applicable fees. If the petition is denied, you may be allowed to appeal the decision.
- When a visa becomes available, you will be scheduled for an interview at the consular office.
- The consular officer will give you a “visa packet” and advise you of the applicable fees to pay online before leaving your home country. The visa packet should be given unopened to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer when you enter the U.S.
The Importance of Hiring an Immigration Lawyer
Navigating the immigration process can be overwhelming and confusing. Mistakes can set your paperwork back for months, if not more. An experienced immigration lawyer can make all the difference. We know the paperwork required regardless of your particular circumstances and understand what the USCIS is looking for during interviews. In the event of any denials, your immigration attorney can step in as your advocate and dispute the denial as well as correct any issues and get you back on track to obtaining your green card or citizenship.
The experienced team of immigration law professionals at Siri & Glimstad LLP understands the importance of this process and has the tools and knowledge to guide you through it as efficiently as possible.
At Siri & Glimstad LLP, we have represented thousands of clients in immigration matters. Our motto is simple – Dedication, Efficiency, and Commitment to the end goal.
We also handle other types of immigration cases including:
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