Adjustment of Status Requirements and Steps

Adjustment of Status Requirements and Steps

2 Min. Read
Share :

Adjustment of Status (AoS) is what you need to apply for permanent residency, while inside the US on a nonimmigrant visa.

The provision of becoming a permanent resident of the US, lawfully, is laid under section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

In this article, you can discover the benefits, requirements, and steps of Adjustment of Status (AoS). So keep reading to learn how AoS can benefit you and take the first step toward becoming a permanent resident!

Note: By referring to "You" throughout the article, we mean the “beneficiary”.

Why You Should Do Adjustment of Status

Making the US your home can come with lots of perks and benefits. These perks can only be availed when you apply for an adjustment of status of your temporary visa, to become a Green Card holder through employment or family.

No Need to Leave the U.S.

By filing your adjustment of status application, you may not need to leave the US for getting permanent residency, thus saving lots of time, stress, and expenses.

You can complete all the paperwork, and interviews for permanent residency while you are in the US on a nonimmigrant visa, through this process.

A Streamlined Process

AoS is a streamlined process of getting a Green Card that is more convenient than the consular process of getting an immigration permit from your home country.

Even if the advantages of getting a Green Card through AoS are a plus, applications from your home country take less time during the process.

Access to Employment Opportunities

AoS, which results in obtaining a permanent residency, provides you with larger and more diverse job opportunities, thus enabling greater career growth.

After adjusting your status, you do not need a work visa or sponsorship every time you change your employer.

See also the difference between Green Card and Non-immigrant visa

Ability to Travel Freely

While you’ve applied for permanent residency through the process of AoS, it would ensure that you don't need any additional paperwork or visa process every time you travel inside the US.

You can travel outside of the US also while your AoS is pending in case of unavoidable circumstances or an emergency only. This can be done by obtaining an additional advance parole document (or travel permit).

We recommend you not to travel outside of the US while your status is pending, as USCIS considers going outside of US, while the application is under review as equivalent to abandoning the application.

Worth reminding that absence of more than 6 months from the U.S. may break the continuity of your residency. For more information visit web page.

Government Benefits

A pending permanent residency status still gets you essential government benefits, like Social Security, and Medicare.

Apart from these perks, you get a few extra benefits while your AoS is pending such as

  • You can apply for Advance Parole. This allows you to travel abroad while your application gets approved.
  • Even if your nonimmigrant visa expires during the pending status, you can still legally live in the US.
  • You can work under any U.S. employer. Depending on your Green Card category, you may be obliged to work for your sponsorship in a period of time.

Adjustment of Status Requirements

You must fulfill a few general requirements in order to qualify for an application to AoS.

  • You must be physically present, at the time of the petition, in the United States.
  • You must not have inadmissibility grounds for adjustment of status.
  • You, while being an alien, must possess an approved immigration petition.
  • You must have entered the US legally during the interim residential period (i.e. while being a nonimmigrant)
  • Your petition shall qualify and will be subject to the availability of a Green Card within a particular numerical annual quota.

Additionally, there shouldn't be any change(s) in circumstances that could negatively affect your adjustment of status.

Two Broad Categories of AoS Petitions

The two broad categories for classification of the petitions AoS is based on the kind of relationship that the beneficiary immigrant possesses with the U.S. sponsor.

The US sponsor, who is also the “petitioner”, can be the family relation of the beneficiary, or their employer.

Family-Based Petition Category

There are two subcategories of AoS petitions that you can consider under Family-based petitions.

Immediate Relative Petition

This subcategory applies to the immediate family members of a US citizen only. The beneficiaries under this category are given special immigration priority. And an unlimited number of visas are available throughout.

If you are a US citizen, you can file for an immediate relative petition on behalf of your parent(s), spouse, child (unmarried, below 21), or stepchild (or an adopted orphan).

As a petitioner, you will be required to file an I-130 petition on behalf of the beneficiary and be required to show proof of your US citizenship and evidence of your relationship with the beneficiary.

While filing an I-130 petition, you can simultaneously apply for AoS.

Filing the I-130 petition assures USCIS, in proof, that you possess an immediate family relationship with the petitioner (a US citizen).

While the function of the status adjustment application is that the beneficiary doesn't possess any admissibility issues which might affect his/her approval and that the background checks have been conducted to ascertain the beneficiary's complete identity.

Family-Preference Petitions

Family Preference Petitions are meant for more distant family relationships. These petitions are reserved for U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. These are few in number and have more wait time associated with them in comparison with the above category. Qualifying family relationships with the beneficiary include-

  • F1 - Son or Daughter (21 or above, unmarried), of U.S. Citizens
  • F2A - Spouse; Unmarried Son, Unmarried Daughter (under 21), of Permanent Residents
  • F2B - Adult and Unmarried Daughters and Sons, of Permanent Residents
  • F3 - Married son or daughter (any age), of U.S. Citizens
  • F4 - Brother or Sister, of Adult U.S. Citizens

You will be required to establish your relationship with the beneficiary. And must pledge to sponsor the beneficiary family member to the US. Also, you must assure that they are free of inadmissibility issues such as the absence of health, immigration violations, and criminal record issues.

Employment-Based Preference Petitions

The Employment-based (EB) preference immigrant categories are reserved for those aliens who wish to get permanent resident status through EB visa categories. An alien’s status can be adjusted to permanent residency, while they’re in the US working under different professions.

There are three kinds of employment categories that are applicable for adjustment.

  • First preference (EB-1) - These include priority workers, such as aliens with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives and managers.
  • Second preference (EB-2) - EB-2 include people holding advanced degrees in various professions.
  • Third preference (EB-3) - This category includes skilled workers, and professionals not included in EB-1 and EB-2.
  • Fourth Preference (EB-4) - Exceptional applications. Mostly used for religious workers.
  • Fifth Preference (EB-5) - Permanent residency through high amount of investment.

You, as a self-petition, or your employer should fill out Form I-140, Immigration Petition for Alien Worker along with Form I-485, in order to qualify.

If you are not sure about which petition you should file, you should contact an experienced immigration attorney who shall help you at each step of the application process. Nevertheless, we have simplified the steps for AoS below.

Steps for Adjustment of Status

Determine If You are Eligible for Green Card

Firstly, you need to check your (beneficiary's) eligibility for Green Card. You can check this by giving a glance at various immigrant categories.

It is of utmost importance for you to know which category is applicable to you, as each category has a different set of requirements, failing which your application might not move further.

Check your Green Card eligibility categories from USCIS.

File an Immigrant Petition for the Beneficiary

Now that you have checked your eligibility, it's time that you consider filling out two forms

  • Immigrant Petition: Form I-130 or Form I-140
  • Adjustment of Status: Form I-485

The immigrant petition form will be filled on your (beneficiary) behalf by a US citizen, or a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) of the US.

There are various types of petition forms that depend on the relationship of the beneficiary in the context of the petitioner.

For example, if you are an alien relative, then your immigrant petition form will be Form I-130; Form I-140 for an alien worker; Form I-929 for a Family member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant.

After your immigrant petition is approved, you can move on to fill out the AoS form i.e. Form I-485. Sometimes Form I-485 can be filled simultaneously with the Immigrant Petition Form, or while the latter is pending. This is called "Concurrent Filing"

File Form I-485

You can file Form I-485. This is a formal application for adjustment of status. As noted earlier, you must be residing in the US for filing this form.

Take your Application Support Center (ASC) Appointment

You will need to go for your biometrics after filing Form I-485. The USCIS will notify you of the date(s), time, and location on which your biometric is to be done.

They will ask you to come to a local Application Support Center (ASC) for the metrics.The biometrics largely include your fingerprints, photograph, and signature, so that USCIS can establish your identity for background and security checks.

In case you are not available on the notified timings, you need to notify USCIS and request to reschedule your appointment, failing which your Form I-485 may get nullified.

Attend Your Interview

In certain cases, USCIS will call you for an interview. They will ask you to take an oath and affirmation with regard to Form I-485.

You (beneficiary) will be required to be accompanied by your petitioner (lawful permanent resident or citizen of the US).

Both of you must carry all the documents that you submitted with Form I-485, in original. This may include- passports, travel documents, Form I-94.

Check Your AoS Status

Once you are done with all the formalities, you can wait for the formal approval of your Status. You may check your status through a dedicated online portal, or by calling USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283.

You need to keep the details such as receipt number, A-number*, name, and date of birth handy for reference.

A-number is an Alien Registration Number. It is a seven to nine-digit unique identification number provided to you (a noncitizen) by USCIS. This number is used for identifying, referencing, and tracking immigration files. It looks something like- A012345678

Final Decision

USCIS is the authority to make the final decision on your Green Card application. Once they approve your application, they will send you an Approval Notice in writing.

After you get the Approval Notice, a little later, you will receive your actual Green Card, congrats!

All the above steps are crucial for a successful Adjustment of Status (AoS) application. If you have difficulty following or want to get more clarity on the steps above, consider getting a consultation with an experienced immigration attorney.

Adjustment of Status Timeline

If you are wondering how long it takes to get the status of your residence permit adjusted, that depends on several factors, such as- the type of application, the number of people applying, and your individual circumstances.

Often, the processing time is slow. However, you may consider the following as approximate timings for adjustment of status.

  • Alien Relative (Form I-130) - 15 months
  • Nonimmigrant Worker on H-1B visa (Form I-129)- 2 months
  • Alien Fiancé (Form I-129F)- 16.5 months
  • Alien Worker on E31/E32 Visa- 7.5 months
  • A Family Member of U Nonimmigrant - 27 months.

Note: The above timeline is for California Service Center, and are approximate dates of processing. The processing time highly depends on the Service Center, or the Field Office that you have applied from. Currently, there are 5 Service Centers that you can apply from.

You can calculate the processing time for your application on USCIS.

Working with Grape Law for Adjustment of Status

The immigration process can be complex and tedious. While you can always get support through your petitioner, consulting with an Immigration Attorney can make the process more fruitful and hassle-free.

An immigration attorney would make you understand all the legal requirements, take care of your documentation, and appear successfully for any appointments.

So don't leave your future in the hands of chance. Contact our immigration advisor so that all the needs are fulfilled, and requirements are met. Schedule a consultation with us and take the first step toward obtaining your Green Card today.


What are the Benefits of Filing an Adjustment of Status?

Adjustment of status (AoS) puts you in the process of becoming a permanent resident of the US. While your status is pending, you can still work and travel freely across the US lawfully.

How Long Does Adjustment of Status Take?

It typically takes 12 to 24 months (excluding exceptions), depending on the type of application and other factors.

What are the Steps for Adjustment of Status?

Firstly, you check eligibility categories, Then you submit Form I-485, gather supporting documents, attend the biometric appointment, and wait for the decision.

What is the Difference between a Change of Status and an Adjustment of Status?

Change of Status is when you apply to change your nonimmigrant status to another kind of nonimmigrant status. Adjustment of Status is when you apply for changing a Nonimmigrant to an Immigrant (Green Card) status.

What are the Inadmissibility Grounds?

Inadmissibility from applying is a situation due to which you may be denied access to becoming a permanent resident. The bar to adjustment can include an undesirable and unlawful means for entry to the US, and commitment of an act of violation.

What is Concurrent Filing?

When you submit Form I-130 and Form I-485 simultaneously, it is called Concurrent Filing.

What Happens if the AoS is Denied?

You can file an appeal or a motion to reopen or reconsider if your application is denied.


Your American Dream Is One Click Away

Start Your Journey