When people follow the traditional path to immigrate to the United States from their home countries, their visa applications are handled in their home countries. In recent years, however, many people have made their way to the United States after fleeing violence and torture in war-torn countries all over the world. Sometimes, it is just not safe to remain in your home country while awaiting your legal visa.
When you apply for a visa, commonly referred to as your “green card,” after admission to the U.S. as a refugee or via another form of admission, this process is known as an Adjustment of Status (AOS). It allows you to remain in the United States and apply for a green card even if you are here on an expired visa.
Which form is needed for an Adjustment of Status?
Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, is what must be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). You should be aware this is not a swift process. If you are already married to a U.S. citizen, you are looking at a timeline of approximately eight to 14 months.
Those who are married to someone with permanent residency status face an even longer wait (years and not months). Expect to wait up to three years (sometimes longer) for your AOS application to get processed. If you file at a processing center with many applications, it may take longer than normal. Conversely, those filing at a processing center with fewer applicants could get their applications approved faster.
You can expedite the process and avoid delays by including every document with the application that the USCIS requires. Repeated requests for additional supporting documentation and evidence can bog down your application and keep you in limbo longer.
What are the requirements for an Adjustment of Status?
There are different eligibility criteria necessary for filing an AOS. You must qualify for green card status either through your employment, your family, a diversity visa or for humanitarian or other purposes. Discuss your qualifications with a Pittsburgh immigration attorney to make sure that you are legally qualified to file.