Adjustment of Status versus Change of Status
There is a great mass of people working toward immigration to the US. The waiting period for obtaining a legal permanent resident status can stretch for years. For this reason, many people planning to move to the United States to take a different route.
The fastest course toward legal entry into the country is to first obtain a non-immigrant visa. A foreign national can be granted either a family-based non-immigrant status or an employment-based non-immigrant status. Once in possession of a non-immigrant visa, some may qualify to adjust his non-immigrant status to that of a legal permanent resident.
If you’re in the US on a non-immigrant visa, there are a few ways for you to be eligible for a green card:
- Family-based petition
- Employment-based petition
- Special circumstances (through asylum or refugee status)
Whoever is sponsoring your petition, be it a family member or an employer, needs to file an immigration petition for you so you can get a green card by way of status adjustment. Concurrent filing may also be necessary, depending on your status adjustment category. This means you yourself may also have to file an application to adjust status or register permanent residence through a Form I-485. Take note, though, that this form cannot be filed until there is an available visa number.
Many make the mistake of assuming that adjustment of status is interchangeable with the change of status. To clarify, status adjustment involves shifting from a non-immigrant status to lawful permanent residency. Change of status, on the other hand, is shifting from one non-immigrant status to another non-immigrant status, e.g. a seasonal worker with an H visa may switch to an F-1 student visa after being accepted to a US university.
Keep in mind that you have to file your application for change of status before your current visa expires or you open yourself to the possibility of deportation. Until you’ve achieved a change in visa status, your actions must also remain congruent with your current status. If you’re on a work visa, do not start schooling while still waiting to hear from USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) about your request of status change.
There are foreigners who obtain a non-immigrant visa with the ulterior motive of getting their status adjusted later on, but others without such original intent may also find themselves desiring or needing their status modified in some manner along the way.
Non-immigrant visas understandably come with limitations with regards to allowed actions and eligibility for opportunities. It’s important to know what the legal options and steps are for pursuing a different status.
Counsel from an Immigration Lawyer in California & North Carolina
If you’re a foreigner staying in the US with the intent to adjust or change your status, it’s important to consult an immigration lawyer in Tustin so your situation can be reviewed and you can be guided and assisted in taking the correct measures to realize your goal. For excellent legal counsel in matters concerning American immigration, contact us at Diener Law.