Adjustment of status is the process by which a foreign national obtains legal permanent resident status from within the United States. In general, to be eligible for adjustment of status, the applicant must be the beneficiary of a family-based or employment-based petition, have entered the U.S. legally, have maintained legal status through his or her stay in the U.S., and not violated the terms of their non-immigrant visa.
This standard is relaxed for family-based immediate relative petitions. In such cases, only the approved petition and legal entry are required. The requirement to have maintained status is waived.
Applicants who qualify under an old law may also be eligible to adjust status even if they entered without a visa or otherwise violated status. These applicants must have been the beneficiary of an approvable family or employment petition that was filed on or before April 30, 2001. To adjust status under this law, known as 245i, the applicant must be a $1000 penalty in addition to the regular application fees.
All applicants for adjustment of status must meet all other admissibility requirements or have an approved waiver.
Change of Status
Change of status is the process by which an individual switches from one nonimmigrant category to a different non-immigrant category without leaving the United States. To be eligible for a change of status, there must be no gap in legal status. If even a one day gap exists, the foreign national must leave the U.S., the process through the consulate, and re-enter with the new visa.
Consular processing is the method for foreign nationals not currently in the United States or who are ineligible for adjustment of status or change of status, to obtain an immigrant or non-immigrant visa. In most cases, the initial petition must still be processed through USCIS and then the final applications and interview and processed at a U.S. consulate or embassy in the foreign national’s country.
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