Immigrants who come to the United States often intend to remain in the country long-term. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), immigrants may change their immigration status to become a legal permanent resident, which is commonly referred to as obtaining a Green Card. In order to become a permanent resident and obtain a Green Card, the immigrant must meet certain requirements and officially adjust their status with the office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Doing so can be complicated, so it is important to have an experienced immigration attorney assisting you throughout the adjustment process.
There are several different ways to adjust your immigration status, the following is general information regarding eligibility requirements and the process.
One of the most common ways in which immigrants adjust their status is through a family-based petition. This occurs because the immigrant has a family member who is considered an immediate relative and is a United States citizen. USCIS defines immediate relative as:
- Children (younger than 21 and unmarried)
- Parents of citizens who are 21 or older
If the applicant immigrant is not in the United States, they may still obtain a Green Card to become a legal permanent resident through consular processing. When this occurs, an immediate relative will have to file a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) with USCIS. The petition will be transferred to the National Visa Center and the applicant immigrant will have their interview at a United States Embassy or Consulate in the country in which they reside.
Employment-based immigrants may file for adjustment of status whenever their priority date—often the date in which the work visa application is filed—becomes current for the immigrant worker’s visa preference category. This process may be lengthier as a result of the United States government’s annual caps on visas in certain preference categories. Permanent residency is also commonly obtained by entrepreneurs looking to invest a significant amount of money in a U.S. business, to purchase a U.S. business, or who serve as executives in U.S. branches of international businesses for a certain period of time.
Other immigrant categories, including refugees and asylees, may adjust their status if they are eligible. Holders of non-immigrant visas may be eligible to adjust their status, but this process is much more difficult and their options should be discussed with an attorney who understands immigration requirements in the U.S.
No matter what path you take to obtain an adjustment to permanent residency, the help of a skilled immigration lawyer can help ensure your application is accurate, complete, and that all requirements are met to avoid any delays in receiving your Green Card.
Immigrants who adjust their status to permanent residents may later become eligible for naturalization. Naturalization is the process by which legal permanent residents become United States citizens. In order to become a naturalized citizen of the United States, immigrants will need to apply after being a legal permanent resident for a specific period of time, most typically a period of five years from the date of becoming a legal permanent resident. Eligible applicants will be required to interview with an immigration officer and the interview will consist of an English reading and writing portion as well as a US civics examination. Certain applicants may be eligible for exemptions of certain or all parts of the examination based on special needs or other factors.
An immigrant-applicant that passes the citizenship examination and is approved for citizenship will be required to attend an oath ceremony at which they will take the Oath of Allegiance to the United States, thereby renouncing all previous citizenship and becoming a U.S. Citizen. It is important to note that a legal permanent resident is not required to naturalize and may remain a permanent resident indefinitely.
New Jersey Adjustment of Status Attorneys
It is important that immigrants consult an experienced and knowledgeable attorney when seeking to adjust their status or to naturalize. The application process for adjustment of status is lengthy and complex. In addition, missed details of an immigrant’s history could otherwise rule them ineligible to adjust their status. The knowledgeable and experienced attorneys of the Maduabum Law Firm, LLC help immigrants discuss their eligibility for adjustment of status, help identify any potential immigration issues that may affect adjustment, and help prepare and file a comprehensive application on behalf of the immigrant. Please call 973-732-1490 today for a consultation.