Adjustment Of Status For U.S. Immigrants
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If someone within U.S. borders wishes to change their status from non-immigrant to immigrant, this is an adjustment of status. This is different from consular processing whereby someone outside of U.S. borders obtains a visa and enters the U.S. as a permanent resident. As with any immigration procedures, there is certain paperwork that needs to be filed and certain conditions that need to be met to get the processes going. Depending on the conditions and circumstances of every individual case, different forms are needed for different situations. However, all adjustment of status applications require an I-485 form at the bare minimum. All necessary forms are available at the USCIS website.
Determine Under what Category the Applicant is Filing
The first step is to determine under what category the applicant is filing. There are many reasons people immigrate to the U.S. and all of them have their own category. The vast majority of immigrants come to the U.S. to be with family members or for work, but many other conditions allow for immigration. A few of these include victim of trafficking, victim of criminal activity, Amerasian children of a U.S. citizen, Haitian refugee, and Panama Canal employee, to name a few. We'll focus on the groups that represent the largest number of immigrants: family-related and employment-related. For family-related prospective immigrants, it is required that the resident or citizen family member file an I-130 (petition of alien relative) form on the applicant's behalf. This includes adjustment of status as a result of marriage. This form acts as a sort of sponsorship for applicants, showing USCIS that the applicant has an anchor inside the U.S. Applicants wishing to adjust their status for employment reasons must have their current or prospective employers submit and I-140 form (petition for alien worker) on their behalf. If you are immigrating or adjusting your status for reasons other than family, marriage, or work, check the USCIS website for proper documents pertaining to your case, and/or consult an immigration lawyer.
Cases of Adjustment of Status
Cases of adjustment of status in regards to marriage do deserve more attention as they are often used (and misused) to immigrate or adjust one's status. And if someone is attempting to immigrate or adjust status due to marriage, it is advised to check with an immigration lawyer or the USCIS website for tips and updates. For example, if someone has been married for two years or less and adjusts their status, they will receive a conditional green card for two years. When the conditional green card expires and the marriage is still intact, a permanent green card will be issued. This is to protect the U.S. government from cases of people getting married just to obtain a green card. The government wishes to see evidence that the marriage is bona fide. Once an applicant has submitted all of the necessary forms for an adjustment of status, a couple of steps remain to finalize the process. Fingerprints must be taken and, often but not always, there will be an interview at the applicant's USCIS office. During the interview, according to the USCIS website, applicants will "answer question under oath or affirmation regarding your application." It is always important to be honest on all paperwork. Finally, the answer to the application will be received in the mail.