Adjustment of Status

A foreign national who entered the United States lawfully and who is now eligible for permanent residence through an immediate-relative spouse can gain a Green Card through a process known as Adjustment of Status.

Forms of lawful entry to the United States include entering on a valid visa, entering on a visa waiver, earning entry through a work or student visa, or otherwise being paroled into the country by the Customs and Border Patrol.

An alien may adjust status even if s/he is currently out of status (e.g. for having overstayed a visa). And under INA §245(i), any alien who had an I-130 petition filed on his or her behalf before May 1, 2001 is eligible for Adjustment of Status as long as there are no other bars to adjusting. In all cases, an alien may not adjust status if s/he has a record of certain criminal history or immigration violations.

Some important questions to answer before filing an Adjustment of Status or any other petition include:

  • Has the period of stay allowed by the visa expired?
  • Has the visa holder ever worked without employment authorization?
  • Has the visa holder ever been arrested or convicted of a crime, either in the United States or in his or her country of origin?
  • Does the petitioner (the U.S. citizen) have the requisite income and assets to sponsor the beneficiary (the alien)?
  • Are there any issues that might lead the government to question the bona fides of the marriage or family relationship?
  • For 245(i) cases, what was the age of the beneficiary at the time of the original filing? What is the petition's Priority Date or date of approval?

Many aliens apply for an Adjustment of Status independent of any Immigration Court or other proceedings. However, if you find yourself facing removal proceedings and are looking for forms of relief from deportation, you should contact an experienced immigration lawyer in California as soon as possible to find out if Adjustment of Status is available to you.