The Adjustment of Status (AOS) for Permanent Residence (I-485) allows an eligible applicant who is already in the United States to become a legal permanent resident while remaining in the US. The alternative Consular Processing is intended for applicants abroad applying at a consular office.
Pursuing an Adjustment of Status is a very important step in life. This type of case can be very complicated and should be managed by an experienced immigration lawyer.
Adjustment of Status (AOS) Concerns
The AOS petition (I-485) concerns personal history such as place of residence, family, health, finances, political background and criminal background. From the time that the AOS is filed, until it is approved, the applicant’s legal status is an “applicant to adjust status”.
Upon gaining entry into the United States, many foreign residents attempt to become lawful citizens of the United States. Depending on a number of varying factors regarding their method of admission, type of visa, family or petitioner support, and personal background, nonresidents may request an adjustment of status. Some of the most commonly referenced reasons for an approved adjustment of status are listed in the following sections.
There are several ways that nonresident aliens and non-immigrant workers can obtain permission to work in the United States for a specified duration. The most common way that a work authorization is approved is when an individual enters the country with valid credentials and a current visa. Petitioners who enter for the purpose of marriage or through the express support of a family member are able to request a work authorization within the first thirty days of their arrival. This temporary work authorization is good for a period of one to two years, depending on the alien status and other individual considerations.
Approval through Employer
Another way for a non-immigrant worker to obtain approval to work in the United States is through the request of an employer. This typically involves the medical, mathematics, and science fields that are conducting research and collaborating with universities and other research facilities around the world. When these individuals gain entry and have been granted the appropriate temporary visa, they may be eligible to begin the proceedings to adjust their status within the country.
To learn more about Permanent Resident/Green Status through Employment, please visit:
Family Member Or Fiance Support
If an individual has an immediate family member such as a spouse, parent, or child residing in the United States, they may be eligible to obtain entry and adjust their status as well. This petition to USCIS requires that several eligibility requirements are met and that the petitioner and their family member are able to financially support themselves throughout the process of immigrating and adjusting status.
Nonresident aliens who are married to a United States citizen must complete form I-130 and pass a personal interview before they are able to request an adjustment of status. While the applicant is awaiting the processing of their request, they may be issued a work authorization. If an unmarried individual is the fiance of a United States citizen and is granted a K-1 or K-2 visa, they must complete the nuptials within 90 days of arriving in the country.
To learn more about Permanent Resident/Green Status through family members or to learn about Fiancé visas, please visit:
Refugee Or Asylum Seekers
Depending on the current state of world affairs, there is a slim possibility that an immigrant could be permitted to adjust their status and become a United States citizen based on their nationality. There are five basic criteria for which an individual would be granted asylum if they are already in the United States, whether their original arrival in the country was legal or not. If they are able to produce documentation that they have a credible fear of bodily injury or other persecution if returned to their homeland, immigrants may be granted a stay of deportation.
For more detailed information refugee/asylum status, visit:
Registry Of Undocumented Immigrant
This option is open to select individuals who have consistently resided in the United States on or prior to January 1, 1972. This limited approval option was recently granted as a way to allow individuals who have continuously supported the economy in some way to become permanent residents. Also known as a grandfather clause, this stipulation also addressed children born in the United States and gave them the ability to file for their nonresident parents. Many residents of Mexico and Cuba have relied on these special conditions to officially adjust their status and become lawful residents and taxpayers in the country.
Diversity Visa Lottery
Each year, a select number of free visas are set aside to be randomly given away to applicants. The waiting list is quite extensive, and not every country or consulate allows their citizens to participate in the visa lottery. Applicants must have full documentation and the required filing fee available to prove that they are able to afford the transportation and customs fees to travel to the United States if chosen.
To learn more about the Diversity Visa Lottery, please read:
In some cases, even if an immigrant appears to meet one or more of the above criteria, they may not be eligible to gain entry or adjust their status to become citizens of the United States. All applicants are required to undergo a bio-metrics appointment, a medical examination, and a thorough background check before they are permitted to adjust their status.
Restrictions for Adjustment of Status
Immigrants, resident aliens, and illegal aliens who have committed a violent or drug related felony offense may also be restricted from successfully petitioning the government for an adjustment of status.
Each of these filing options requires extensive documentation, most require an expensive filing fee, and some require personal interviews as well. In order to ensure that all eligibility and monetary requirements are promptly and fully met, candidates who wish to adjust their status within the United States should consult with an experienced legal representative. Even the restrictions sometimes have legal loopholes or exceptions that permit unauthorized residents a chance to adjust their status by clearing up immigration and legal issues to become lawful alien residents.
The process takes time, often several years, to complete. Having a knowledgeable lawyer who has professional experience working with USCIS and the various immigration process will greatly enhance the chances of successfully adjusting a temporary immigrant status.
You are a Cuban native or citizen, or his/her spouse or unmarried child, and you were paroled or admitted into the United States after 1/1/1959, and have been physically in the US for one year or more. If you are a Cuban native or citizen, or his/her spouse or unmarried child, who has been granted permanent residency in the US prior to 11/6/1966, you can ask to change the beginning date of your legal permanent residence to your arrival date in the US or 5/3/1964, whichever is later.
Other Nationality Based Programs
If “otherwise eligible” to immigrate to the US, an immediate relative may file for AOS in the US (“get a green card”), even if they may have: worked without permission, or stayed inside the US past the I-94 expiration date and filed for AOS afterwards, or failed to maintain legal status with proper immigration documents, or been admitted through the 15-day Guam visa waiver program or the 90-day Visa Waiver Program.
In order to file an AOS, a person must remain in status continuously except:
he/she can apply for AOS if the illegal stay is shorter than 180 days; if the illegal stay is longer than 180 days, but the priority date is earlier than 1/14/1998, or she/she qualifies under the LIFE act, he/she can pay a $1000 fine and apply for AOS. Everyone else must do consular processing abroad.
If someone has illegally enter the US, and married a US citizen or become an immediate relative, he/she is not eligible to adjust his/her status to permanent resident. An immediate relative must qualify by meeting the eligibility requirement of “inspected and admitted or paroled into the US”.
Ineligibility for AOS
Except for persons applying for:
creation of a record based continuous residence since before 1/1/1972, or applying for
AOS under a special rules category such as 245(i) adjustment, Cuban adjustment, asylum adjust, special juvenile immigrant or special military immigrant adjustment. Individuals are ineligible for AOS if they meet one of the following criteria:
- entered the US in transit without a visa, or as a nonimmigrant crewman
- were not admitted or paroled following inspection by an immigration officer
- are or were a J-1 or J-2 exchange visitor, and you have not complied with the two-year foreign residence requirement, or been granted a waiver
- were admitted as a visitor to Guam under the Guam visa waiver program
- were admitted as a visitor to the US through the Visa Waiver Program, unless you are an immediate relative of a US citizen (i.e, spouse, widow, widower, unmarried child under 21, parent)
- have nonimmigrant A, E or G status or have an occupation that allows you to have this status, unless you waive diplomatic privileges, rights and immunities with Form I-508, and, if you are a A or G nonimmigrant, unless you submit a complete Form I-566
- are already a conditional permanent resident
You are no longer legally in the country or employed in the US without USCIS authorization, unless you are:
- an immediate relative of a US citizen,
- a K-1 fiance who married his/her US petitioner within 90 days after admission, or a K-1 fiance’s K-2 dependent,
- an H or I visa nonimmigrant or special immigrant (international organization employees, foreign medical graduates, or their derivative family members).
We Can Help With Complicated Cases
Our qualified immigration lawyers are able to handle your Adjustment of Status, no matter how complicated your situation may be. We can handle job-changes for employer-based immigrants, file to reopen a denied AOS, discern when you should file for travel and employment authorizations, represent you at USCIS interviews, and more. Our immigration lawyers are also experienced with cases involving child immigrants who are nearing adulthood and how to gain inadmissibility waivers.
Are You In Need Of An Immigration Attorney In Virgina, Maryland or Washington D.C.?
If you find yourself facing immigration issues you need to speak with an experienced immigration lawyer as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Vienna, Virgnia office directly at 703.991.7978 or our Rockville, Maryland office at 301.637.5392 to schedule your case consultation.