Experienced Adjustment of Status Attorneys Working Hard to Help Applicants Continue Their American Dream
What does an Adjustment of Status mean? The Adjustment of Status (AOS) process refers to the steps that need to be taken to change the status of a foreign national from a non-immigrant (or temporary) category to an immigrant (permanent) category. Foreign national who already resides in the US can apply for permanent residence and have their legal status changed without needing to return to their home country. The result in the Adjustment of Status means that the applicant will now have lawful permanent resident status in the US.
It can be challenging to navigate this process. I have years of experience helping foreign nationals transition their green card into permanent residency and many other immigration services. If you have further questions, please contact me at 407-499-5680 to discuss how I can help you move forward.
What is a Family-Based Adjustment of Status?
Many people obtain permanent residence through a family-based Adjustment of Status. Family members can file a petition on behalf of the applicant. Immediate family members (spouses or dependent children under 21) can apply without waiting.
Other qualifying relatives can also petition to adjust the status of a foreign national. The relative must fill out USCIS Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative and Form I-864 Affidavit of Support and demonstrate that they meet the minimum income requirements to sponsor the alien. Qualifying relatives include spouses, siblings, parents, and grandparents.
What are the Income Requirements for Family-Based AOS?
The income requirements vary greatly based on each situation and state the US resident lives in. If there are multiple children in the sponsor’s house or if they are already sponsoring another family member, for example, the income requirements will be higher than they would be for another petitioner. If the sponsor is active military, the income requirements also vary, generally lower than that of non-military sponsors.
To calculate the number of people in the sponsor’s household, you must include any dependent on the tax return, themselves, the applicant, any unmarried children under 21, and anyone who will be applying for a green card and arriving in the US with the applicant.
Sources of income can include your total income, wages/salaries, alimony or child support received, dividends or interest earned, and retirement benefits. If the sponsor cannot meet the income requirements alone, they may rely on other income from the household made by adults such as parents or siblings. The other adults in the home will need to fill out a form (I-864A) demonstrating their ability to help with income and their financial commitment to the beneficiary.
A secondary co-sponsor or a “joint sponsor” can also be included in the petitioner’s household income doesn’t meet the requirements. The co-sponsor must file their Affidavit of Support and meet the income requirements independently for their income to be included to suffice the requirement. The co-sponsor doesn’t need to be a family member, but they must be a US citizen or green card holder living in the US.
Other sources of income can be included to meet the minimum requirements, such as assets held by the sponsor. The sponsor can also have the home’s net value (the fair market value minus the total amount of mortgages or outstanding debts attributed to the house) in their documentation of assets. The same can be done to include the net value of vehicles owned by the sponsor. You can also include the relative’s assets that are seeking the AOS. Their asset values, whether the asset is in the US or their country, can be included, provided they are “liquid” and can be converted to cash within a year.
Finally, you can include the income of the family member seeking the green card into the income requirements, provided that income isn’t foreign. If the income is earned in the US and the applicant intends to continue obtaining revenue from the same source after they receive their green card, it can also be included in the requirement.
What if the Adjustment Of Status is Based on Marriage?
If the Adjustment of Status is based on marriage, several steps need to occur in order to ensure the Adjustment of Status can happen. The petitioner must prove that the marriage is of good faith and not solely for immigration purposes. There are several ways to do this, but some common examples are listed below.
- Provide evidence that you and your partner have lived together for some time. You can achieve this by providing proof of both names on a lease, jointly listed utility bills, mail delivered in both names to the same residence, and more.
- Photos are a great way to help establish authenticity as well. There can be photos of the wedding, the honeymoon, anniversaries shared, family photos, and more that can provide a proven history of the couple’s lives together.
- Provide evidence of shared joint finances, such as joint accounts, investments, loans, insurance that you carry, debt incurred in both names, etc.
- If you share a child, you can provide the child’s birth certificate, provided both parents’ names are present on the birth certificate.
- Past letters, emails, and text messages between the couple can also be provided to establish a relationship history.
- Some couples have also elected to include letters from loved ones or friends attesting to the couple’s love for one another or their relationship as a whole.
The US citizen spouse must fill out the Affidavit of Support on Form I-864 for the immigrant. This provides proof that the spouse will support the immigrant for up to ten years as necessary so that the immigrant will not have to rely on public assistance such as welfare or other government programs in the near future.
The immigrant will also need to undergo a medical exam, ruling out the small list of illnesses that would make them unqualified for the Adjustment of Status.
Both parties will also need to attend an AOS interview. You can also choose to have an experienced immigration attorney represent you during this interview. Many couples do this to ensure they meet the interview requirements and move on to the next step.
What are the Steps for an Adjustment of Status?
The steps will be a little different for each applicant based on their specific set of circumstances, but the common steps will be as follows;
- Make sure the applicant is eligible for a green card.
- The sponsor must fill out the required documents to petition for a green card.
- Once the petition has been filed, the USCIS must grant the petition. The timeline for this step can vary from several months to over a year, depending on the circumstances.
- Check for availability for the family-based Adjustment of Status.
- Once a visa is available, the applicant will file Form I-485.
- After receiving the I-485 form, USCIS will mail the applicant information as to where to complete their biometrics appointment.
- A background check will be completed on the applicant, and an interview will be scheduled.
- If more evidence is necessary, the USCIS will mail you a formal request specifying what further information is required, and a follow-up interview may be necessary.
- A decision will be made whether your application was approved or denied. If approved, you will receive notification of this via mail, and shortly after, you will receive your green card.
Is the Process for Adjustment of Status Hard?
The process will look different for everyone based on their specific circumstances. Specific steps need to be taken depending on what type of family member you petition for, what income requirements you need to meet, and more. This process is unique because the exact steps that “Applicant A” may have taken may not apply to “Applicant B” due to the different circumstances for each applicant. It can make the process seem intimidating, and having a trusted attorney on your side can be invaluable to you during this process.
One of the most complex parts (according to most applicants) of this process is the interview. It can be nerve-wracking to have a thorough consultation before receiving your AOS. This is also why it is an option for the applicant to have an attorney present during the interview. The attorney can help you to answer questions effectively, answer them on your behalf, or help you to understand the questions thoroughly, so you aren’t caught up in unnecessary mistakes when answering critical questions.
Why Do I Need an Immigration Attorney?
The Adjustment of the Status process can make your head spin. There are specific guidelines for each set of circumstances, leaving excessive room for errors on both the sponsor and the applicant. This complex process can mean that your family is forced apart for longer due to overlooked information, failing to meet the requirements, or other common mistakes.
Working with an experienced attorney can speed up the process and make it as efficient as possible through their knowledge and skill set. Contact my office at 407-499-5680 to learn more about your specific situation and how I can best assist you.