U.S. immigration laws provide different ways for a foreign national to apply for a Green Card or Lawful Permanent Resident status. The eligibility requirements to gain a green card status in New Jersey vary depending on the immigrant category you’re applying under, so it’s important that you know which specific immigrant category you’re qualified for.
An “adjustment of status” is the process you can use to change your immigration status from being a visa holder to a green cardholder. Once you’re a green card holder, you’re considered a legal permanent resident of the U.S. You can apply for permanent residency at a U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office if you’re already in the U.S.
This is different from a “consular processing” where the immigrant goes to a U.S. consulate or embassy in their home country to apply for lawful permanent residence which involves attending immigration interviews there and submitting immigration paperwork and other documents.
In general, there are 4 requirements that you must qualify to adjust status in New Jersey:
- You’ve entered the U.S. lawfully
- You have a lawful presence in the United States
- You’ve complied with all the terms in your visa
- You’re qualified to get a green card application
However, there are rare cases where an illegal alien may still be eligible to adjust status. For example, they have an employment-based immigrant visa that has expired causing them to overstay. They can apply for adjustment of status within 180 days upon their visa expiration. To help with your adjustment of status, it is best to consult an immigration lawyer in New Jersey.
Who Can Use Adjustment of Status in the Green Card Eligibility Categories?
Not everyone is qualified to adjust their status. However, you are eligible if you qualify under any of the following:
- You are eligible to start your green card application, whether through sponsorship by your U.S. employer, a relative who is a lawful permanent resident or a U.S. citizen or by having a refugee or asylum status at least a year before your application.
- If you’re eligible through family immigration or employment immigration, your petition form must already be approved by the USCIS and your priority date is current to continue with your green card application. Priority dates are for immigration applicants under preference categories that are subject to annual limits. However, not everyone faces numerical limits or waiting times; for example, you don’t have to wait when getting a green card in the immediate relative category because they release unlimited numbers of visas annually.
- You’ve entered the United States through a fiance visa (K-1 visa) and married your U.S. citizen partner who sponsored your application within 90 days.
- You have been granted asylum/refugee status in the United States for 1 year.
- You are physically present in the United States.
If you don’t qualify for an adjustment of status even though you fit most of the criteria above (for example you’ve entered the U.S. as an illegal immigrant or you’ve committed other visa violations), there’s still hope, because there are certain laws which can allow you to adjust status, and it’s best to consult with an experienced New Jersey immigration lawyer to specifically help with your case.
Immigration laws are complex. If you need immigration assistance, our New Jersey immigration attorneys can help.
Our lawyers at Andres Mejer Law can provide you with the immigration solutions specific to your case. Contact us today for a free legal strategy session.