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Immigration: Adjustment of Status

NJ Immigration Lawyer

Adjustment of Status

Many people become permanent residents (in other words, to obtain a “green card”) through family members. The United States promotes family unity. The government allows U.S. citizens and permanent residents to petition for certain relatives to come and live permanently in the United States. You may be eligible to get a green card through a family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The process to getting a green card is best handled with the guidance of a NJ immigration lawyer.

There are two distinct paths to get your green card. Many family members who are already in the United States may qualify for “adjustment of status” to permanent residence in the United States. This means they are able to complete their immigrant processing without having to return to their home country. Those relatives outside the United States -- or those who are not eligible to adjust status in the United States -- may be eligible for consular processing through a U.S. embassy. Or they may go through the consulate abroad that has jurisdiction over their foreign place of residence.

“Adjustment of status” is a process that permits a person who is in the United States to obtain permanent residency (a “green card”) without having to travel abroad and be readmitted with an immigrant visa.  If a person is eligible for adjustment of status, they can also file for employment authorization along with the adjustment application. They may also be able to obtain permission to travel outside of the United States while the application is pending. In many instances, such travel is not recommended because of problems that may arise.  The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) permits the change of an individual's immigration status while in the United States from nonimmigrant or parolee (temporary) to immigrant (permanent) if the individual was inspected and admitted or paroled into the United States and is able to meet all required qualifications for a green card (permanent residence) in a particular category. Depending on the category you wish to adjust under, you may be eligible to have the petition filed at the same time that you file your Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. This is called “concurrent filing.” Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen may be able to file concurrently.  Also, other certain classes of individuals who have a visa immediately available may be able to file concurrently.  Most categories, however, require that you first establish your eligibility for the immigrant category by having an approved petition before you are allowed to file Form I-485, for these categories you will not be able to file concurrently.  Regardless of whether a petition must be filed and approved prior to your filing Form I-485 or whether it may be filed concurrently, you will need to apply for permanent residence on Form I-485 at the appropriate time.  It should be noted that there are a few categories which may require a different form than Form I-485.

When filing Form I-485, it is very important to carefully respond to all questions asked and then to submit all required documentation and evidence required for your particular category.  Failure to do so may result in your application being delayed or possibly denied for failure to establish that you are eligible to adjust status. An experienced NJ immigration lawyer from Helmer, Conley & Kasselman can assist you with this process.

Also included in many instances of Adjustment of Status is an interview processing.  You may be notified of the date, time, and location for an interview at a USCIS office to answer questions under oath or affirmation regarding your application. You must attend all interviews when you receive a notice.

When you come to your interview, you (and the family member that filed the Form I-130 petition on your behalf, if applicable) must bring originals of all documentation submitted with this application including passports, official travel documents, and Form I-94 regardless if they are expired.  As stated before, not all applications require an interview. USCIS officials will review your case to determine if it meets one of the exceptions.

Some people are not eligible for adjustment of status and must obtain permanent residency outside the United States. Because applying for adjustment of status is very technical and a time-consuming process, it is extremely important to consult with a qualified New Jersey immigration attorney before applying for this benefit. Consular processing is an alternate process for an individual outside the United States (or who is in the United States but is ineligible to adjust status) to obtain a visa abroad and enter the United States as a permanent resident.)  This pathway towards a green card is technically called “consular processing.” 

At Helmer, Conley & Kasselman, PA, our New Jersey Immigration attorneys can advise you on the most effective way to obtain permanent residency.

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