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What Are the Requirements for Adjustment of Status?

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Many immigrants come to the U.S. in hopes of getting a green card. One way to get a green card is by meeting the adjustment of status requirements. In broad terms, you can adjust your status if you are in the U.S. with good status and an immigrant visa is available.

Navigating the immigration system is tough, especially on your own. If you are looking into adjusting your status, contact the Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh. We can help you understand your options and guide you through the application process. 

What Are the Requirements to Apply for Adjustment of Status?

You can generally adjust your status if you:

  • Are in the U.S.,
  • Qualify for a green card,
  • Have a visa available, and
  • Are not otherwise ineligible. 

If you are not in the U.S., you do not adjust your status to get a green card. Instead, you would go through consular processing.

Qualifying for a Green Card

The primary ways to qualify for a green card include:

The path to a family or employment-based green card generally begins with a sponsor filing an immigrant petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the intended immigrant beneficiary.

Family-Based Green Cards

There are two types of family-based green cards: immediate relative and family preference. Both generally require a family member to submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. In limited circumstances, beneficiaries can sponsor themselves using Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant.

The below chart explains who can sponsor whom:

Visa Category Sponsor Beneficiary
Immediate Relative U.S. citizen Spouse, unmarried children under age 21, parent
Preference One (F1) U.S. citizen Unmarried children
Preference Two (F2A) Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR)  Spouses, unmarried children under age 21
Preference Two (F2B) LPR Unmarried children 21 and older
Preference Three (F3) U.S. citizen Married children
Preference Four (F4) U.S. citizen Siblings

Generally, minor children can be included on their parent’s application as “derivatives.”

Employment-Based Green Cards

There are five employment-based preference categories:

Visa Category Sponsor Beneficiary Immigrant petition form
First Preference (EB1) Beneficiary or employer Individuals with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational managers and executives Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers
Second Preference (EB2) Beneficiary or employer Individuals holding advanced degrees or with exceptional ability Form I-140
Third Preference (EB3) Employer Skilled workers, unskilled workers, and professionals Form I-140
Fourth Preference (EB4) Beneficiary or employer Special Immigrants Form I-360
Fifth Preference (EB5) Beneficiary Immigrant investors Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Standalone Investor, or Form I-526E, Immigrant Petition by Regional Center Investor

When an employer sponsors an EB2 or EB3 visa, the employer must usually get labor certification first. 

Humanitarian Green Cards

Humanitarian programs that lead to green cards include:

  • Asylum,
  • Refugee status,
  • S-visas for criminal informants, 
  • T-visas for human trafficking victims, and
  • U-visas for crime victims.
  • VAWA (Violence Against Women Act), you may be eligible to become a lawful permanent resident (get a Green Card) if you are the victim of battery or extreme cruelty committed by: A U.S. citizen spouse or former spouse; A U.S. citizen parent; A U.S. citizen son or daughter; A lawful permanent resident (LPR) spouse or former spouse; or An LPR parent.

Most of these status types require that you hold the status or visa for a period before you can adjust your status.

Having an Available Visa

Yearly limitations set by U.S. immigration law determine whether a visa is available. Humanitarian and immediate relative visas are always available. However, U.S. family and employment-based visas are limited as follows:

Visa Type Yearly Limit
F1 23,400
F2A 87,934 (77% of 114,200)
F2B 26,266 (23% of 114,200)
F3 23,400
F4 65,000
Family Total 226,000
EB1 40,040 (28.6% of 140,000)
EB2 40,040 (28.6% of 140,000)
EB3 40,040 (28.6% of 140,000)
EB4 9,940 (7.1% of 140,000)
EB5 9,940 (7.1% of 140,000)
Employment Total 140,000

Because of these limitations, several visa categories are significantly backlogged. 

To determine when a visa will become available, you consult the Visa Bulletin. To understand the bulletin, you need to check USCIS’s website to determine which chart to consult and to

know your priority date. 

When you submit an immigrant petition, you receive a receipt notice from USCIS. The date of the receipt notice indicates the petition was received and is your priority date. 

Once the date on the relevant chart becomes later than your priority date, a visa is available. 

Preventing Ineligibility

Certain conduct can prevent you from adjusting your status. One of the most common bars to eligibility occurs when an immigrant enters the country without papers or overstays a visa. In some circumstances, USCIS might waive bars to adjustment. In others, you may have to leave the U.S.

How Can I Adjust My Immigration Status?

You adjust to LPR status by submitting Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status to USCIS. Along with your I-485, you submit supporting documents proving your identity, your current legal status, and the outcome of any immigrant petitions filed on your behalf. 

There are no specific adjustment of status income requirements, but most applicants have to prove they will not rely on U.S. government funds for financial support. This usually means submitting proof of your financial ability to support yourself, having a U.S. national submit Form I-864, Affidavit of Support Under Section 213A of the INA, or both. The I-864 is one of the most intensive adjustment of status through marriage requirements.

Next, you generally attend an interview with a USCIS officer, who asks questions to confirm you meet the adjustment of status requirements. If they conclude you fall short, they will notify you of why they made that conclusion. If they conclude you qualify, they should issue you a green card within a few days or weeks.

Adjustment of Status Assistance

The immigration lawyers at the Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh are passionate about helping immigrants. If you are considering applying to adjust your status, reach out today.

Author Photo

Rosina Stambaugh

Rosina C. Stambaugh, founder of The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh in York, brings a wealth of expertise to immigration law. With a focus on removal defense, Ms. Stambaugh has successfully litigated cases across various Immigration Courts, the Board of Immigration Appeals, and the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, offering comprehensive support to clients facing diverse immigration challenges. She also represents individuals and families applying for affirmative benefits with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.

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