If you are here temporarily in the US and want to make your stay permanent, there are ways to make that happen. There are several paths to a green card, depending on how you arrived, your family relationships, and your employment skills.
Step 1: How did you Arrive?
In evaluating your options for adjusting status to that of a permanent resident, how you arrived in the US is important because this affects the forms needed and the complexity of the immigration process. If you arrived on a tourist visa or one of the H visas, it’s more straightforward to apply for a green card. If you arrived on the Visa Waiver Program, a J visa, or arrived without inspection, then things can get more complicated.
It’s commonly thought that adjusting status on a visa waiver is impossible, but that’s not true. With a good attorney who knows the complexities of the law, it is possible to adjust status on a visa waiver. The assistance of an experienced lawyer can help you avoid setbacks and obstacles, which a Los Angeles immigration attorney says are commonly experienced by recent immigrants during the naturalization process.
Step 2: Finding Your Future Status
Family connections are important. For example, the spouse of a US citizen can file an I-485 form and quickly adjust status in the US. Parents of US citizens can adjust status as well. There are caveats though. For example, if you arrived in the US as a tourist and then file for adjustment of status after marriage to a US citizen, the USCIS will scrutinize the relationship.
If you want to adjust status based on work, there are opportunities to change status to permanent residence based on work, particularly if you are here on an H1 visa. For these types of changes, it’s imperative to seek legal advice to find your particular visa opportunity.
Step 3: Filing For Adjustment of Status
There are several forms involved in filing for adjustment of status and it’s best to get qualified help in filling out these forms properly. The total time of the process depends on the type of adjustment of status as well as your location but it can range from 3 months to 12 months. Your attorney will likely file for Advanced Parole and Employment Authorization when filing the I-485. This will allow you to work and travel while waiting for the adjudication of your adjustment of status.
Step 4: Receiving Permanent Residence
After filing for AOS (Adjustment of Status), you will first visit the USCIS for fingerprinting and photo taking. Later you will go to the USCIS Field Office and have an AOS interview. Depending on your paperwork and the USCIS officer, this can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour. Your attorney will prep you for this interview so that it will flow more smoothly.
After a successful interview, you will receive your green card in the mail in just a few weeks. That’s it—you are an official permanent resident of the USA!