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Need To Know About Adjustment Of Status In The United States

What Is Adjustment Of Status?

Adjustment of Status is a way to get a green card while you’re in the United States on an approved petition.

What Is The Difference Between An Immigration Petition And An Adjustment Of Status?

An immigration petition is similar to a precursor that allows you to apply for an Adjustment of Status later on. As such, you must have an immigration petition with proof to apply for an adjustment of status.

The only exception to this is if you're applying for Adjustment of Status based on being an immediate relative of a US citizen. This can include being the spouse of a US citizen or the parent of a child that's a US citizen who is over the age of 21.

In these cases, you can file the One-Step petition, where you don't have to have an immigration petition approved before applying for Adjustment of Status. The One-Step petition allows you to file an immigrant petition and Adjustment of Status simultaneously.

What Are The Steps To Take For An Adjustment Of Status?

The steps you need to take to apply for an Adjustment of Status will be based on the type of petition that you initially filed for.

For example, suppose your Adjustment of Status is for an immediate relative petition. (Remember, an immediate relative is considered to be either a spouse or a parent of a United States citizen.) In this case, to obtain your green card, you'll have to:

  • Fill out the Adjustment of Status forms
  • Complete a medical exam
  • Obtain a sponsor
  • Have an approved immigration petition (unless you’re filing a One-Step petition)
  • Attend a biometrics appointment where your fingerprints are taken
  • Attend an interview

I'm In The US, And An Immigration Petition Has Been Approved On My Behalf. Do I Still Need To File For An Adjustment Of Status?

You must file for an Adjustment of Status if you want a green card because an immigration petition does not give you the same privileges that a green card will. An immigration petition only gives you an approved petition that you can later use to adjust your status.

Do I Need A Criminal Record Certificate From My Home Country For Adjustment Of Status?

Generally, you do not need a Criminal Record Certificate from your home country to file an Adjustment of Status. You will only need that if you actually have a criminal record.

Generally, for an Adjustment of Status in the United States, once they take your biometrics (fingerprints) and verify you do not have a criminal record, that is sufficient. However, if your biometrics show that you have a criminal record in your country, you will need to obtain those documents.

Where Should I File For My Adjustment Of Status Application?

First, you must file your Adjustment of Status application from wherever you live in the United States at the time of application. This is because the application must be filed while living in the United States – you can't file for an Adjustment of Status while living abroad.

If you live in the eastern United States, your application generally should be sent to the Chicago service center. For the western United States, applications should generally go to the Texas or California service center.

Second, the service center that you will send your application to depends on the underlying petition on which your application is based. There are different addresses you will need to send your application to depending on whether it's based on employment, investment, family petition, or one of the crime victim Visa applications.

If you’re wondering which service center you should file your Adjustment of Status application with, it’s a good idea to speak with an immigration attorney to make sure that you have all the information you need.

Why Do I Need An Attorney's Assistance For Adjustment Of Status? Can I Do It By Myself?

You don’t have to hire an attorney to file an Adjustment of Status. You can do everything by yourself, in theory – however, it's not recommended.

This is because hiring an attorney is like buying insurance. Just like with insurance, you may pay for your attorney and never need it. But if you find yourself in a situation where you need insurance and you don’t have it, your situation can become dire – and costly – very quickly.

The same is true in immigration cases. The forms you’ll fill out may look like they're straightforward and self-explanatory, but any simple mistake can have terrible consequences.

Immigration doesn't allow for many errors. Any mistake is automatically assumed to be intentional fraud. One of the worst things that can happen to a client trying to apply for an immigration benefit in the United States is to be accused of fraud because you need a waiver. The process is extremely complicated, and it could put your immigration process into a massive spiral that you want to avoid.

In fact, our firm recently handled a case where a client of ours made an innocent mistake when filling out her paperwork (prior to working with our firm). Unfortunately, this small error resulted in immigration officials claiming that she did it on purpose and accusing her of committing fraud.

If you have an attorney, you can avoid making many of the common mistakes that are so easy for an inexperienced filer – because you’ll have an expert who can make sure you’re hitting the mark. What’s more, in the rare case that the attorney’s office does make an error, you’re protected by knowing that immigration will afford more leeway to an attorney’s office versus holding you directly responsible for the error on your own.

How Long Would I Have To Wait For My Adjustment To Be Approved?

The length of time your Adjustment of Status takes to be approved can vary. Some applications take six weeks, and some take as long as two years. How long it takes doesn't necessarily have anything to do with any case or complications. It has more to do with where you live, how busy that service office is, and how quickly things are moving there.

May I Legally Work While My Adjustment Is Pending?

You may only work if you have valid employment authorization. Usually, when we file applications for Adjustment of Status, we apply for a work permit and a travel permit. Generally, those are approved before your Adjustment of Status. So, you may work if they're approved and you have employment authorization. If you don't have employment authorization, then you should not work.

If I Apply For A Work Permit With My Adjustment, How Soon Can I Expect To Get Approved?

If you apply for a work permit along with your Adjustment of Status, it could be approved as quickly as a month to six weeks, though it could take much longer.

For more information on Adjustment Of Status In The United States, an initial consultation is your next step. Get the information and legal answers you seek by calling today at (305) 907-6151.

Image of Attorney Magdalena Cuprys, Esq with 4.7 start reviews

Attorney Magdalena Cuprys is a seasoned immigration lawyer based in Orlando and Coral Gables, Florida. With three languages under her belt and years of legal experience working with immigrants of all kinds, she brings considerable experience and insight to the field and works hard to explain immigration concepts, empower future citizens, and keep current and prospective immigrants up to date on US immigration law.

Connect with her firm, Serving Immigrants, to stay updated on the latest developments in United States immigration law and gain valuable insights needed to navigate the challenging legal landscape of immigration in Florida. 

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