If you are an immigrant engaged or married to a US citizen, you may be wondering whether you will qualify to do an adjustment of status. Adjustment of status is the name of the process done at a USCIS office inside the United States during which an immigrant becomes a lawful permanent resident, also known as a green card holder. Adjustment of status is not the only way for immigrants to receive a green card through a spouse, but it is frequently the preferred method because it tends to be faster, less expensive, and less complicated than the other option, known as consular processing.
In some cases it can be hard to tell whether the immigrant will qualify to adjust status, even if that is their preferred method of receiving their green card through their spouse. Here are the main categories of immigrants who typically qualify to adjust their status:
1. Immigrants who currently are inside the United States in a lawful immigration status, such as being on a tourist visa or a student visa, and they have never had any immigration problems in their history.
2. In some cases immigrants may have entered the country lawfully, such as with the tourist visa or through the visa waiver program, but then stayed longer than the time that they were allowed and are still inside the United States. These immigrants may also be eligible to adjust status if the adjustment of status is based on their marriage to a US citizen and they do not have certain other types of immigration problems in their history.
3. There is a less common category of people who also qualify to adjust status. These immigrants have had family members submit petitions for them prior to April 30, 2001. This was the deadline for participation in a program commonly referred to as “INA 245(i).” The 245(i) program gave immigrants who would not normally be able to adjust status a limited opportunity to pay a fine and qualify to adjust their status.
However, it is a strange quirk of immigration law that they did not have to have adjusted status by April 30, 2001, but only had to have filed the petition by the date. Even stranger still, some immigrants today are still able to use old petitions in combination with new family petitions to pay the fine and adjust their status. Immigrants who can do this are referred to as “grandfathered” into the program. If someone petitioned for you or your parent back in that era it is important to try to get a copy of the approval notice for the petition or at least the receipt notice and take that to your consultation with us or another qualified immigration attorney to see whether the old petition can be used to help you in your current case.
4. Immigrants who enter the country in the status referred to as “parole” can also sometimes adjust status if they’re married to a citizen. For example, if an immigrant has Temporary Protected Status (TPS) or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status and they receive advanced parole to travel abroad and then reenter the U.S. using “advanced parole” (sometimes called a “travel permit”), they may be eligible to adjust status after they return from travel, even if they would not have been able to qualify before they traveled.
Keep in mind that these are only the most common scenarios we see in the office among clients who qualify to adjust status, and this is not a complete list. And even if you cannot currently adjust status, that does NOT mean that you cannot become a lawful permanent resident through another method such as consular processing or even a program such as the U Visa program. Please contact us at office@coradolaw. com or (317) 247-5040 for an appointment if you would like to understand your immigration options and get help making the best decision for you and your family.