Adjustment of Status — Establishing Legal Residency in the United States of America
Becoming a resident of the U.S. is a big step! This process is often referred to as obtaining a Green Card. Lawful permanent residents are authorized to live and permanently in the United States. According to the Department of Homeland Security, 34.9 million immigrants who entered the United States in 1980 or later became permanent residents by 2019.
The immigration lawyers at The Law Offices of Anable & Rivera PC can help you obtain your new status. Legal permanent residents (LPRs) may also work in the United States without special restrictions, own property, receive financial assistance for universities, and/or public colleges. After a certain amount of years and if they meet certain requirements, can apply to become a U.S citizen. If you are already living in the United States, the process can also be called adjustment of status.
For many, the process to obtain residency can be a long wait. For others, the process might happen faster. Having a trusted lawyer by your side can make the process smoother. It will often depend on your eligibility and the category you fall under. Having a family member or spouse sponsor you is one way to obtain your green card, maybe a job offer, or—for residents of certain countries—diversity visa lottery can be an option as well.
How Do I Qualify?
There are several ways and circumstances that a person might qualify for permanent residency. U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services has created several categories through which a person can submit an application. Each category has its own set of requirements and eligibility rules. People may obtain permanent residency through:
- As a special immigrant
- Through refugee or asylee status
- Green card for human trafficking and crime victims
- Green cards for victims of abuse
- Green card through other categories
As a green card holder or lawful permanent resident, you can petition for:
- Unmarried children
As a U.S citizen, you can petition for your
- Unmarried children under 21
- Married children over 21
- Parents (if you are over 21)
- Brothers/sister (if you are over 21)
One of the most common ways people obtain residency in the United States is through a relative or family member. You may be eligible to apply if you are an immediate relative of a U.S citizen including a spouse of a U.S citizen, unmarried child under the age of 21 of a U.S citizen, or a parent of a U.S citizen who is at least 21 years old. You may also apply if you fall under another relative category including unmarried son or daughter and are 21 years or older, married son or daughter of a U.S citizen, or the brother or sister of a citizen.
What is the Process?
If you are living in the United States and are eligible to apply for residency, you might be able to do so without leaving the United States. The first step is to figure out whether you are eligible to apply for permanent residence.
- a. Once you have confirmed that you are eligible, file Form I-485- Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjustment of Status. In addition to the Form, you should include all your supporting documents and fees. Many of the documents submitted do need to be authenticated.
- b. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services will review your application and documents and grant you an interview. If you are granted permanent residency, it will be valid for ten years.
Federal Law for Adjustment of Status
Adjustment of Status is the technical term used to describe when a person applies for lawful permanent residency from within the United States. This means that you don’t have to go back to your home country and wait for the process. For many people that have already been working or living in the United States, this option is what makes the most sense.
How Does This Benefit My Life?
Becoming a U.S resident comes with both rights and responsibilities. For many people, it is a big step and maybe the biggest step before achieving U.S citizenship. As a permanent resident, you have the right to work, live, go to school in the United States. Some other benefits include sponsoring a family member, attending university for less, travel outside the U.S, have better career options, and more.
What is the Status Timeline?
Every case is different and depending on what category you are applying, the timeline might vary slightly. Eventually, you will have to go through an interview with an immigration official.
Immigration law also has preference categories. Foreign nationals might qualify to be assigned an immigrant visa number, which is basically a place in line. Most people considered immediate relatives to automatically qualify for this. Usually, however, the status for applying for lawful permanent residency follows this order:
- Check eligibility
- Submit Form I485 and accompanying paperwork
- Submit fees
- Review of your application by USCIS
- Schedule interview
- Attend interview
- Wait for status
Contact Us Today
Have questions on how to get started with permanent residency? The Law Offices of Anable & Rivera PC is here to help and answer your questions. Call us today.