Adjustment of StatusThe process of obtaining permanent residence in the United States without having to leave the country is called "Adjustment of Status."
Marriage-Based Adjustment of Status
Our nation’s immigration laws are written to encourage family unity. With this in mind, Congress has created a way for family members of current U.S. citizens and permanent residents to obtain their own permanent residence in the United States based on their relationship. However, the process can be tricky, and not everyone is eligible.
Initial Case Evaluation
Our process usually begins with an in-person consultation, where we examine the family relationship, make sure you have sufficient documents to prove the relationship, and go over eligibility criteria like the existence of a financial sponsor and whether there are any disqualifying crimes. We also try to make sure you understand the process, which parts can be harder to predict and, yes, frustrating, and what you should expect from start to finish.
Preparing the Forms
At the beginning of 2017 the USCIS published new forms which in many cases significantly increased the amount of paper required for family-based adjustments of status. The forms have gotten longer, and the questions have increased. Knowing that in advance, we will draft your forms in our office with your assistance, making sure the answers comply with the USCIS instructions for each form and confirming with you that your answers are accurate and complete.
Filing the Application for Adjustment of Status
Through experience we have learned what process the USCIS prefers for submitting applications for adjustment of status. We typically provide a document checklist for clients to gather their necessary documents. Clients can then either upload their documents to their MyCase site or mail them or bring them to our office. Once we have reviewed your documents and re-checked the forms, we’ll assemble the adjustment of status package according to USCIS instructions and guidance and mail it to the USCIS.
Attending an Interview
Most family-based adjustments of status will lead to an interview at the local USCIS office. These can be nerve-wracking, but there are many things you can do to get prepared and get rid of the anxiety about the interview. We go over what a standard interview looks like and answer any questions you might have in advance. When the interview notice arrives, we’ll contact you to make sure you are aware of the date and time. If you need an interpreter, we can work with you to find an interpreter who meets the USCIS requirements. Then, the morning of the interview we typically attend the interview with you (note: some clients prefer to go alone – when you consult with us for the first time we can discuss your preferences).
Employment-Based Adjustment of Status
Adjusting one’s status through an employer is actually a bit more complicated than the family-based adjustments and often requires quite a lot more work in advance of the adjustment of status. This is because there are significant backlogs in some categories of employment-based visa numbers. Also, some employment-based categories require substantial documentation about the business interest, the job being offered, and the employer’s background. Some employment-based adjustments require a process called PERM. We will normally meet with the employer and employee either in-person or via a video conference to discuss requirements and determine what options will work best for all.
The traditional process of “Labor Certification” is now called “PERM” – the process involves testing the labor market in the field where the employee will be working to make sure there are no qualified U.S. workers who are willing and able to do the job being offered. Only after the labor market has been tested can you move on to filing the visa petition. Once the visa petition is approved, there might be a substantial backlog in the visa category. Because of this, it’s important to understand the entire process from the very beginning.
Non-PERM Adjustment of Status
While PERM is the “standard” process for employment-based adjustment of status, it isn’t the only option. Some categories of employment-based adjustment of status aren’t required to go through the PERM process, like “Extraordinary Ability” petitions, “Outstanding professors and researchers,” the transfer of “Multinational managers or executives” to work in the United States. If the employee fits into one of these non-PERM categories, it’s critically important to know that in advance, because it might just save the employer significant time and money.
Other Forms of Adjustment of Status
Not everyone adjusts their status through family or business interests. We regularly look for alternative adjustment of status options. For example, some people can adjust their status based on the kind of non-immigrant (i.e. “temporary”) visa they received, like U-visa and T-visa recipients, some beneficiaries of G and A visas, as well as several others, can eventually adjust their status based on their time in the United States after being granted their visas. People in the United States since 1972 may be able to simply register for permanent residence. And some people are eligible for “Special Immigrant” status which can lead to adjustment of status.
Each Case is Different
In this category, there are so many different variables and options that it’s hard to list them all here. If you have a specific question about alternative forms of adjustment of status, schedule a consultation in person or by phone, and let’s discuss them.