Adjusting Status in the US

October 15, 2011 § 4 Comments

If you are outside the US and planning to immigrate to the US, you have to go through consular processing at the US Consulate your country. If you are already in the US legally and 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 have to file Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status to Permanent Resident with the USCIS.

Who can apply?

You will qualify to file this form if you are in the US and have an approved immigrant petition. In plain terms, adjustment of status is the process where a foreign national applies for a green card while being in the US. Unless you are applying in a classification for which visa numbers are always available, you must have a “current” Priority Date in order to be eligible to file. Priority date refers to the date you filed the immigrant petition. If you are applying based on being married to a US citizen, the parent or child may also qualify file the application to adjust status to a green card holder at the same time the immigrant petition is filed.

You may also file to adjust status to a green card holder if you are an individual who held asylee or refugee status for one year or more. It is important to note that if you are outside the US, you will not be eligible to file to adjust status to a permanent resident. In such cases, you have to apply for an immigrant visa at a US consulate in your country. Cuban nationals requesting a change in the date their permanent residence began in the US can also file Form I- 485.

The process:

You need to file Forms I 485 with the necessary supporting documents and the submission fees with the USCIS service center that serves your area. If you are 79 years of age or older, you need not pay the biometric fee. If you are filing this form based on being admitted to the US as a refugee, then you need not pay any fee. After reviewing and processing, if your I-485 for green card application is rejected, the USCIS will notify you through a letter that will tell you why the application was denied.

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 rejected. Under such instances, you can have an immigration judge review the denial of your application during removal proceedings. During this review, immigration officials are required to justify and prove that the information on your I 485 application were false and that your application was rightly denied. After this review, if the judge decides to remove you from the country, you can still appeal this decision. You can appeal within 33 days after the immigration judge passed the judgment to get you removed from the country. The appeal will then be referred to the Board of Immigration Appeals after your appeal form and the required fee are processed.

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