The immigration process can be fluid and dynamic. It is not unusual for plans to change. People who once thought they only wanted to visit may find themselves wanting to become permanent residents. Under U.S. immigration law, many individuals looking to obtain permanent resident status must do so while remaining in their home country. There is however another way for individuals who are lawfully present within the U.S. to adjust their status to that of a permanent resident.

Can You Adjust your status to that of a Permanent Resident?

When applying for permanent resident status, the first question that must be answered is whether you have any basis for immigrating.  It is also important that if seeking to Adjust Status, you are in and have maintained lawful immigration status. If an Applicant has any arrests or criminal convictions of any kind, the best advice is to seek legal counsel and assistance as certain convictions will not only lead to a finding of ineligibility to adjust status, but can cause the Applicant to be placed in removal proceedings.

Typically, individuals can obtain permanent resident status through either family members, through employment, or through refugee/asylee status. Regardless of the basis, most applicants will need to file an application with USCIS.

Immigration Petition

While you might qualify under more than one categories, it is important to be aware of the requirements and limitation of the category under which you plan to file. This is because the filing rules are different for each category.

Visa Availability

Before you can file an application to adjust status, you must first ensure that a visa is available in your category. While there is an unlimited number of visas available for “immediate relatives” (parents, unmarried children under 21, or spouses) of U.S. citizens, there is a limited number of visas available for individuals who are in a “preference category,” which includes certain family and work categories.

The Application to Adjust Status

While there are a few categories that may require a different form, generally most applicants will need to file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residency or Adjust Status, in order to adjust his/her status to permanent resident status. It is important to make sure that you have a clear understanding of the filing rules, as any errors in the application process can cause delay and may even result in the denial of your application.

The Application Support Center

Once you have filed all of the necessary paperwork, you will be notified to appear at an Application Support Center.  At the Application Support Center, your fingerprints, photograph, and signature will be collected in order to conduct the required security searches. This information will also be used to create your identification, such as is needed for a work permit.


Finally, in some cases, you may be required to attend an interview at the USCIS office. You will be notified of the time and date of the interview, and you will be required to answer questions under oath or affirmation regarding your application. As such, it is important to remember to bring all supporting documentation with you to your interview.

Once you have completed all of the necessary steps to adjust your status, you wait for the final decision. USCIS will often times notify you in writing whether your petition has been accepted or rejected.

Contact an Immigration Law Attorney

While the immigration process can seem frustrating and complex, you do not have to go through it alone. Working with an experienced immigration attorney can help you deal with any immigration issues or concerns you might have. If you, or someone you love, are interested in adjusting your immigration status, then contact a dedicated, experienced attorney at The Law Office of Natalie D. Hall, PA for a case evaluation.