United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) points out that the phrase adjustment of status refers to a process a person can use to apply for lawful permanent residence, more commonly known as green card status, while they are still inside the United States. A green card (also known as a Permanent Resident Card) will give the person official immigration status in the United States, entitle them to certain rights and responsibilities, and be required if the person hopes to naturalize as a United States citizen. Unlike a consular processing application, a person does not have to return to their country of citizenship to obtain residency, and the process can save them considerable time and expenses. However, they should still work with a Los Angeles green card/adjustment of status attorney.
Most people who apply for green cards need to complete at least two forms, an immigrant petition, and a green card application, although another person usually needs to file a petition for you (which is often referred to as sponsoring or petitioning for you). It is important to understand that the federal government states that being a permanent resident is a privilege, not a right, so the government can take away permanent resident status under certain conditions and people need to know what they must do to maintain permanent resident status even after being awarded a Green Card.
How to Apply for a Green Card
A person needs to be eligible under certain categories to apply for a green card. The categories include:
- Green cards through family for immediate relatives of United States citizens (spouses of United States citizens, unmarried children of United States citizens who are under 21 years of age, or parents at least 21 years of age of United States citizens), relative of United States citizen or lawful permanent resident under family-based preference categories (family members of United States citizens such as unmarried sons or daughters of United States citizens who are 21 years of age or older, married sons or daughters of United States citizens, brothers or sisters of United States citizens at least 21 years of age, or family members of lawful permanent residents who are spouses of lawful permanent residents, unmarried children under 21 years of age of lawful permanent residents, or unmarried sons or daughters of lawful permanent residents who are 21 years of age or older), fiancé(e)s of United States citizens or fiancé(e)’s children (people admitted to the United States as fiancé(e)s of United States citizens [also known as K-1 nonimmigrants] or people admitted to the United States as children of fiancé(e)s of United States citizens [also known as K-2 nonimmigrants]), widow(er)s of United States citizens (widows or widowers of United States citizens who were married to United States citizen spouses at the time their spouses died), or Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (VAWA) self-petitioner victims of battery or extreme cruelty (abused spouses of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents, abused children [who are also unmarried and under 21 years of age] of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents, or abused parents of United States citizens).
- Green cards through employment for immigrant workers, either first preference immigrant workers (having extraordinary ability in the sciences, business, education, arts, or athletics, are outstanding researchers or professors, or are multinational managers or executives satisfying certain criteria), second preference immigrant workers (members of professions requiring advanced degrees, having exceptional abilities in the arts, sciences, or business, or seeking national interest waivers), or third preference immigrant workers (skilled workers [having jobs requiring a minimum of two years training or work experience], professionals [jobs requiring at least a United States bachelor’s degree or a foreign equivalent], or unskilled workers [willing to perform unskilled labor that requires less than two years training or experience]), Physician National Interest Waiver applicants who are physicians agreeing to work full-time in clinical practice in a designated underserved area for a set period of time and also satisfy other eligibility requirements, and immigrant investors who have invested or are actively in the process of investing at least $1,050,000 (or $800,000 in a targeted employment area or infrastructure project) in a new commercial enterprise in the United States which will create full-time positions for at least 10 qualifying employees.
- Green cards as special immigrants such as:
- Special Immigrant Juveniles needing juvenile court protection because they were abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent
- Afghanistan or Iraq nationals who served as Afghan or Iraqi translators or interpreters for the government of the United States
- Iraqis who were employed by or for the government of the United States in Iraq on or after March 20, 2003, for a minimum of one year
- Afghans who were employed by the government of the United States or International Security Assistance Force (ISAF)
- religious workers who are also members of religious denominations coming to work for nonprofit religious organizations
- employees of international organizations, family members, NATO-6 employees, or family members who are also retired officers or employees for
eligible international organizations or NATO, or eligible family members of such employees
- international broadcasters coming to work in the United States as members of media for either the United States Agency for Global Media (USAGM) or a USAGM grantee
- Green cards through refugee or asylee status if people were either granted asylum or admitted as a refugee a minimum of one year ago.
- Green cards for victims of human trafficking and crime victims through T nonimmigrant visas and U nonimmigrant visas.
- Green cards for victims of abuse, including VAWA self-petitioner victims of battery or extreme cruelty like abused spouses of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents, unmarried abused children of United States citizens or lawful permanent residents under 21 years of age, or abused parents of United States citizens, Special Immigrant Juveniles who are children abused, abandoned, or neglected by parents and have SIJ status, abused spouses or children under the Cuban Adjustment Act (specifically meaning abused spouses or children of Cuban natives or citizens who are victims of battery or extreme cruelty), abused spouses or children under Haitian Refugee Immigrant Fairness Act (HRIFA), meaning abused spouses or children of lawful permanent residents who received their Green Card based on HRIFA and are victims of battery or extreme cruelty.
- Green cards for Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness (LRIF) for Liberian nationals continuously present in the United States since November 20, 2014, or the spouses, children under age 21, and unmarried sons or daughters over 21 years of age of qualifying Liberian nationals.
- Green cards through the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program for individuals selected in the Department of State’s diversity visa lottery.
- Green cards through the Cuban Adjustment Act for Cuban natives or citizens, spouses, or children of Cuban natives or citizens.
- Green cards for abused (victims of battery or extreme cruelty) spouses or children under the Cuban Adjustment Act.
- Green cards through the dependent status under HRIFA for spouses or children of lawful permanent residents who receive green cards based on the Haitian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act (HRIFA).
- Green cards for abused (victims of battery or extreme cruelty) spouses or children under HRIFA who are abused spouses or children of lawful permanent residents who received green cards based on HRIFA.
- Green cards for Lautenberg parolees paroled into the United States as Lautenberg parolees.
- Green cards through the Indochinese Parole Adjustment Act of 2000 for natives or citizens of Vietnam, Kampuchea (Cambodia), or Laos who were paroled into the United States on or before October 1, 1997, from Vietnam under either the Orderly Departure Program a refugee camp in East Asia, or a displaced person camp administered by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Thailand.
- Green cards for American Indians born in Canada, possessing at least 50 percent American Indian blood, and maintaining their principal residence in the United States.
- Green cards for people born in the United States to foreign diplomats born in the United States to foreign diplomatic officers stationed in the United States when they were born.
- Green cards through Section 13 (diplomat) for people stationed in the United States as foreign diplomats or high-ranking officials and are now unable to return home.
Also, keep in mind there is a green card registry. The registry relates to the section of immigration law allowing people in the United States since January 1972 the chance to apply for a green card even when they are currently in the country unlawfully.
Filing Your N-400 Most green card applications are going to involve I-485, an Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. Other common forms in these cases may include
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
- Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
- Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant
- Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
- Form I-589, Application for Asylum and Withholding of Removal
- Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
- Form I-918, Petition of U Nonimmigrant Status
- Form I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant
A person who is already located in the United States will file for an adjustment of status with USCIS. When a person already has an approved immigrant petition and an immigrant visa is available, they will file Form I-485 with USCIS or if they do not currently have an approved immigrant petition, they must check the eligibility requirements for their green card category to see if they can file a petition and Form I‑485 together at the same time (also known as a concurrent filing).
Adjustment of status involves filing an immigrant petition or getting a sponsor to file a petition for you, checking visa availability, filing Form I-485, attending a biometrics services appointment at a local Application Support Center (ASC), going to an interview (when applicable), responding to all requests for additional evidence, and checking cast status before receiving a decision. When a person is outside the United States, they must proceed with consular processing with the United States Department of State.
Consular processing will involve filing an immigrant petition, waiting for a decision on the petition, waiting for notification from the National Visa Center (NVC), attending an appointment at the consular office, and then receiving the green card.
Call Us Today to Speak with a Los Angeles Green Card / Adjustment of Status Attorney
Are you trying to obtain a Green Card or adjustment of status in California? You will want to work with the Law Office of Todd Becraft because we understand how complicated these types of cases can be for people, but we know how to slow everything down and make it all more manageable and understandable..
Our firm will take the time to explain every single action that is happening in your case and how we are working for you. You can call (213) 388-1821 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with our Los Angeles green card/adjustment of status attorney.