Are you in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa? If you desire or need to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States, you will need to adjust your immigration status and acquire a green card. For that, you will need the advice and services of a Fresno immigration lawyer.

Adjustment of status is the process of applying to become a lawful permanent resident or “applying for a green card” while you are in the U.S. The adjustment of status process may allow you to acquire a green card without returning to your home country for visa processing.

How difficult is adjusting your immigration status? Even if you qualify, it can be quite complicated. Who qualifies for adjustment of status? What steps will you need to take? Keep reading this brief discussion of adjustment of status, and you will find the answers you may need.

Who Qualifies for Adjustment of Status?

To be approved for adjustment of status and to receive a green card, you first must be qualified to extend your current nonimmigrant status.

Because your current status must be extended while your adjustment of status request is pending, your adjustment of status request must be submitted with a request to extend your current status, or the request will be denied.

If you’re in the U.S. on the basis of a C, D, K1, K2, S, WT, J1, M1, Q2, or WB visa, you cannot qualify for an adjustment of status, and you must depart from the U.S. by the departure date shown on your Form I-94.

What Happens When You Request Adjustment of Status?

Whether your application for adjustment of status is eventually approved or denied by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a number of benefits are available simply by applying.

One benefit is “advanced parole,” which means that as your request is being processed, you may travel outside of the U.S. and re-enter without applying for a non-immigrant visa.

A pending request for adjustment of status may also qualify you for an Employment Authorization Document that lets you work for a U.S.-based employer. Finally, applying for adjustment of status allows you to remain in the U.S. even without a valid immigration status.

What Steps Should You Take to Adjust Your Immigration Status?

Eligibility for adjustment of your status may depend on your current immigration category. There are several ways to qualify, adjust your status, receive your green card, and become a lawful permanent resident of the United States. These include:

  1. sponsorship by a prospective U.S.-based employer
  2. sponsorship by a close family member who’s a citizen of the United States
  3. having refugee or asylum status
  4. having been victimized by human trafficking, crime, or abuse in your home nation

What Paperwork is Required for an Adjustment of Status?

Most people seeking adjustment of status have to complete at least three forms: an immigrant petition, a green card application (Form I-485), and Form I-485 Supplement A.

Usually, a sponsor files the immigrant petition on behalf of the person seeking the green card, but some persons will qualify to file the petition themselves.

Most applicants must have the immigrant petition approved prior to filing Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) and Form I-485 Supplement A, but others may file these two forms when the immigrant petition is filed or while it is pending.

Because everyone’s situation is different, you will need to be advised personally by a Fresno immigration attorney. Your attorney will ensure that your paperwork is accurate and complete and that there are no mistakes or misunderstandings that could delay the process on your end.

Will You Be Interviewed by Immigration Authorities?

Upon receiving your paperwork, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will review it to determine if an interview will be needed. If so, you will have to make an appearance at a USCIS office and answer questions about your application for adjustment of status.

Your Fresno immigration lawyer will help you prepare for the interview and ensure that you take with you the original copies of all of the documents that accompanied your Form I-485 application, including passports, travel documents, and your Form I-94, even if they’ve expired.

What If USCIS Needs More Information From You?

Not all green card applicants will receive a request for more documentation. However, USCIS may ask you for additional information, and if you do not respond in a timely manner, your Form I-485 may be rejected. You will be asked for more information if:

  1. You didn’t submit all of the necessary documentation.
  2. What you have submitted is out of date or no longer applicable.
  3. USCIS needs more details to determine if you are eligible for adjustment of status.

An information request from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will tell you what is needed, where to submit it, and the deadline for your response.

Will Your Adjustment of Status Be Granted or Denied?

You may expect the total processing time for a Form I-485 to take eight to fourteen months. It may take about six weeks for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to receive your application and send you a confirmation of receipt.

You’ll then be scheduled for your biometrics appointment, which you cannot miss. At that appointment, USCIS will photograph and fingerprint you and have you sign your name. This verifies your identity so that USCIS may conduct the required criminal background check.

If USCIS approves your adjustment of status, you will probably receive a notice of approval and then receive your green card several weeks later.

If USCIS denies your adjustment of status, you will be notified and told why it was rejected and whether you can appeal the denial. If you can’t appeal, you may be able – with help from your Fresno immigration attorney – to submit a request to reconsider or reopen your case.

When Should You Contact a California Immigration Attorney?

Immigration laws in this nation are exceptionally complicated. Every immigration application and request is thoroughly scrutinized and reviewed by USCIS. If you are seeking to adjust your immigration status, you need legal advice and counsel that you thoroughly and absolutely trust.

If you are requesting adjustment of status, trying to bring a prospective employee or a loved one to the United States, or seeking to acquire a visa, start by promptly arranging a consultation with a California immigration lawyer who will guide and advise you through each step of the process.