What is it?
Adjustment of Status (AOS) is the process in which a person can get his green card from within the United States, without having to leave for his native country. Very few people actually qualify for AOS.
Who can do it?
Generally, you could qualify for AOS if you present in the United States, are not otherwise inadmissible, and you meet any of the following:
- You entered the United States with inspection and are the immediate relative (parent, spouse, child under 21) of a US citizen (INA § 245(a))
- You are the beneficiaries of a petition filed before April 30, 2001 (INA § 245(i))
- You are a refugee, a dependent child (SIJS), a VAWA beneficiary, or a U visa holder
- You entered the United States with inspection and are still in status
Regardless of how you qualify for AOS, your priority date must be current when you file your application. Visit the Visa Bulletin from the Department of State to check if your priority date is current: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/visa-law0/visa-bulletin.html.
What does it entail?
There are several forms that must be filed with USCIS depending on how you qualify for AOS. If you do not yet have an approved petition, it may be possible to file it at the same time that you file your AOS application. This will shorten the time that you have to wait to gain lawful status.
You must submit to a medical exam by a Civil Surgeon. USCIS provides a list of medical locations that can perform the test (https://my.uscis.gov/findadoctor). The doctor will test for several contagious diseases that could make you ineligible for AOS. In certain cases, where the doctor feels that you may have a drug problem, he or she may also test for the presence of drugs. The doctor will also document any tattoos. The doctor will give you your results in a sealed envelope. Do not open the envelope. You must give the sealed envelope to an immigration officer at your interview.
In addition, your petitioner must complete and sign an Affidavit of Support promising to take care of you financially if you are unable to do so yourself. There are minimum income requirements for the Affidavit of Support, based on the federal poverty line (https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines). If your petitioner doesn't meet those requirements, they may ask a third-party to co-sponsor you.
After submitting your application, you will receive an appointment notice to have your biometric information, including your fingerprints, taken at a Support Center. The information gathered at this appointment will be used by USCIS to run a security check on you.
You will have to appear for an interview at your local USCIS office. An officer will go over your application with you and ask you any other questions he or she may have before making a decision on your application.
How long does it take?
Getting your green card through AOS can take over a year, especially if you don't already have an underlying approved petition. You can request a work permit in the meantime, which can be used to not only work but get a driver's license. Usually, the work permit only takes a few months to get to you.
How much does it cost?
The total cost of the AOS process will depend on how you qualify for it. If you are applying under INA § 245(a), the immigration fees are about $2000. If you are applying under INA § 245(i), you must pay an additional fee of $1,000 to USCIS. These fees do not involve other costs, like the required medical exam and certified arrests records. It also does not include attorney's fees.
You may be subject to grounds of inadmissibility that may make you ineligible for AOS. A list of grounds of inadmissibility may be found at INA § 212(a). If you file for AOS and are denied, you may be placed in removal proceedings or arrest
ed by ICE.
As always, remember that nothing in this post is legal advice. It's purpose is solely educational. You should not rely on information from the internet. Always consult with a lawyer.