Adjustment of Status

Adjustment of Status

One of the most common paths to lawful permanent residence is the adjustment of status process. This process can be started when the petitioner, the family member who is a resident or a US citizen, wants to start a petition for a family relative who is in the United States.
According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), to adjust status, the beneficiary must (1) have been “inspected and admitted or paroled,” (2) be admissible, (3) have an immigrant visa immediately available to them, and (4) warrant a favorable exercise of discretion.

1. Inspected or admitted 

A person who wants to adjust status must have entered the United State with a valid visa, have been inspected at a port of entry, or having paroled. Parol is a temporary grant of the entrance to the United States under the supervision of the Department of Homeland Security. 

2. Admissible 

A person is admissible if there are no grounds to deny his entrance or permanence in the United States. Otherwise, a person is under a ground of inadmissibility that must be resolve before admission is granted. Some of the most common grounds of inadmissibility are unlawful presence, entry without inspection, and the existence of a criminal conviction. 

3. Have an immigrant visa available 

Unless the petition is a US citizen and the beneficiary is a spouse or an unmarried child, a beneficiary must wait until an immigrant visa is available. For these purposes, the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets the number of immigrant visas the U.S. Department of State (DOS) can issue to aliens seeking to become lawful permanent residents (get a Green Card) each year.

Immigrant visas for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are unlimited, so they are always available. Immediate relatives include:

  • The spouses of U.S. citizens;
  • The children (unmarried and under 21 years of age) of U.S. citizens;
  • The parents of U.S. citizens at least 21 years old; and
  • Widows or widowers of U.S. citizens if the U.S. citizen filed a petition before they died, or if the widow(er) files a petition within two years of the citizen's death.

Immigrant visas for the family-sponsored and employment-based immigrant preference categories are numerically limited, so they are not always immediately available. For more information, please see the Green Card Eligibility page.

4. Warrant a favorable exercise of discretion

All immigration petitions are subject to the discretion of an immigration officer. As a result, a petition must be filed and organized with close attention to the details. This the best way to show to the immigration officer that a favorable exercise of discretion is warranted. 

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