Adjustment of Status (AOS) is the final step of the green card process for foreign nationals based in the U.S. The AOS allows foreign nationals living in the U.S. on nonimmigrant (temporary) status to transition to immigrant (permanent) status by filing a form called the I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). When approved, the I-485 will adjust an individual's lawful immigration status or residency status from nonimmigrant to immigrant, which ultimately results in a green card.
For employers sponsoring employees for a green card, the AOS application can be filed with USCIS when an employee's Priority Date becomes "current." The Priority Date for an employee is determined by the date that the PERM application – or EB-1 I-140 for some foreign nationals – is filed with the government.
Road to Adjustment of Status*
*Foreign nationals applying for the EB-1 are not required to submit a PERM Labor Certification. Some foreign nationals may also be able to file the Form I-140 and Form I-485 at the same time, except for most Indian and Chinese nationals.
The Priority Date effectively serves as a spot in line for applying for the green card. When the Priority Date becomes available, or is "current," foreign nationals are eligible to file the AOS application with USCIS. That said, it typically takes several years after the PERM application is submitted for foreign nationals to meet the eligibility to apply for AOS.
This is because each year the government allocates a certain percentage of green cards for the Employment-Based categories based on country of citizenship. When the demand is higher than the supply of green cards in any given category or country for that year, this creates a waiting list (commonly referred to as a "backlog").
In tandem with the I-485, many employers also file the I-765 Application for Employment Authorization and I-131 Application for Travel Document for employees. Once approved, these applications provide an EAD/AP card, which permits continued work authorization and freedom to travel to and from the U.S. for foreign nationals while they await their green card.
The final stage of the AOS process is typically a USCIS interview with the green card applicant toward the end of I-485 processing. Currently, I-485 case processing varies greatly, but cases most commonly are processed within 11-24 months.
After the interview, USCIS will send approved applicants a notice in the mail, followed by their green card.
Originally published 28 June, 2022
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