Adjustment of Status (AOS) is the process by which a non-United States citizen petitions to become a Permanent Resident. Permanent residency is the immigration status of a person authorized to live and work in the United States of America permanently. Such a person receives documentation demonstrating this status which must be carried at all times. A United States Permanent Resident Card is the identification card documenting the permanent resident status of an alien in the United States. It is known informally as a “green card” because it is green.
In order to qualify for permanent resident status, a non-United States citizen must reside within the United States and meet certain criteria. You may be eligible to apply for a Green Card through your family, a job offer or employment, refugee or asylum status, or a number of other special provisions. In some cases, you may even be able to self petition.
Eligibility categories are:
- Family Based
- Job or employment based
- Refugee or asylum
- Special programs
Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens do not have to wait for a visa, and there is no limit to the number of visas that can be issued unlike with some other eligibility categories.
Immediate relatives include:
- Parents of a U.S. citizen
- Spouses of a U.S. citizen
- Unmarried children under the age of 21 of a U.S. citizen
Job or employment based
People who would like to become immigrants based on employment or a job offer may apply for permanent residence or an immigrant visa when they are outside of the country. Entry in this category is limited.
Refugee or asylum
If you were admitted to the United States as a refugee or as a qualifying spouse or child of a refugee, you are required to apply for permanent residence one year after your entry into the United States. Additionally, if you were granted asylum in the United States or are a qualifying spouse or child of an asylee, you may apply for permanent residence one year after the grant of your asylum status.
Petitioning for adjustment of status can take several months to more than a year and will require biometrics and a formal interview. If the person petitioning is the spouse of a United States citizen, then the immigration officer conducting the interview will require proof of a valid marriage. While the Adjustment of Status Application is being processed, many people also file for employment authorization and “advance parole” allowing them to work and travel to and from the United States prior to completion.
If you would like to submit a Petition for Adjustment of Status, consult with an experienced immigration attorney. It is always a good idea to consult with an immigration attorney when you would like to submit a petition for advice and assistance on the best way to do so to increase your opportunity for success. Also, an attorney can assist you in identifying and collecting the best evidence to support your petition.