Changing from a Nonimmigrant to an Immigrant Visa

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Introduction to Adjustment of Status

Are you a nonimmigrant visa holder looking to live or work permanently in the United States? Changing status from nonimmigrant to immigrant visa is possible but can be complicated. There may be tons of paperwork involved, and the change of status procedure needs to be followed strictly. It would be wise to speak with an experienced attorney to avoid delays and costly mistakes.

U.S. visas fall into two categories: immigrant and nonimmigrant visas. Immigrant visas are issued to eligible noncitizens to stay in the country permanently. Nonimmigrant visas, on the other hand, are issued to foreigners who wish to enter the United States temporarily. Nonimmigrant status is granted to those who arrive for business, vacation, study, temporary work, medical treatment, and other similar reasons.

If you want to understand the legal processes involving a change of status or are seeking assistance for a family-based petition, speak with an immigration lawyer at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law.

Understanding Your Current Nonimmigrant Visa

Foreign nationals who wish to enter the United States must first obtain a visa unless exempt. A nonimmigrant visa is for temporary stay, while an immigrant visa is for permanent residency. The purpose of your intended travel will determine the type of visa category to apply for.

There are over 30 nonimmigrant visa categories in the US. Here are some of them:

Visitor Visa (B-1 and B-2)

The B-1 temporary business visitor visa is for those who will engage in activities of either a commercial or professional nature. These activities include settling an estate, consulting with business associates, negotiating a contract, or attending a scientific, educational, professional, or business convention.

B-2 tourist visas include activities related to tourism, such as visiting family or friends, social events, participating in contests or events, and attending short recreational courses (less than 18 hours per week).

Note that under the visa waiver program, nationals and citizens of participating countries do not need a tourist or business visa. However, they are only allowed to stay in the country for a maximum of 90 days.

Student Visa (F and M)

To enter the U.S. on an F student visa, you need to be enrolled in a university or college, high school, private elementary, seminary, or conservatory school. You may also be enrolled in another academic institution, including a language training program. If you are enrolled in a vocational or other recognized nonacademic institution, you need to apply for an M visa.

Exchange Visitor Visa (J-1)

The J-1 visa allows foreigners to teach, study, conduct research, exhibit special skills, or receive on-the-job training. The period may range from a few weeks to months.

Whatever type of visa you hold, you should maintain your current nonimmigrant status and abide by the conditions of your stay as per immigration laws.

To know more about lawful status, visa applications, and other related immigration concerns, speak with an immigration attorney. 

Adjusting Status from Nonimmigrant to Immigrant

Changing from nonimmigrant to immigrant status is known as adjustment of status. It can be simple or complex, depending on your situation. So, it has to be done with care to avoid costly mistakes and unnecessary delays.

Adjustment of status is the process of applying to become a lawful permanent resident status for nonimmigrants in the U.S. The process is as follows:

  1. Check if you’re eligible to apply for a green card under one of the categories below:
  • Family-based immigrant visas

  • Employment-based immigrant visas

  • Special immigrant

  • Refugee or asylee status

  • Human trafficking or victims of crime

  • Victims of abuse

  • Through registry

  1. File an immigration petition yourself or through someone else, usually a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative or employer.
  2. Wait for a visa number to be available, if applicable.
  3. File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, and required documents.
  4. Once notice is received, visit your local application support center (ASC) for your biometric services appointment.
  5. If you are required to have an interview, attend your interview.
  6. Submit additional evidence if necessary.
  7. Check your case status online or contact the citizenship and immigration services to ask about your Form I-485.
  8. Receive the USCIS decision.

While this may seem straightforward, several issues may complicate the process. It may be beneficial to have an immigration attorney on your side to handle any unforeseen complications and ensure your application complies with the law and USCIS regulations.

An experienced immigration lawyer could assist you in filling out the forms and help you gather the appropriate documents you need. If you have encountered circumstances that can affect your application, your lawyer may be able to give proper advice on how to proceed.

Changing Visa Status From One Nonimmigrant Visa to Another

If you are not eligible for adjustment of status or your application was denied, you may be able to change status to another nonimmigrant visa to avoid having to leave the U.S. For example, if you are a holder of a temporary worker visa, you may be eligible to obtain a different work visa or a study visa.

To change your visa status while in the United States, such as from study to work, you should file a request with the USCIS before your current status expires.

General eligibility requirements are as follows:

  • You were lawfully admitted to the U.S. as a nonimmigrant.

  • Your nonimmigrant status is valid.

  • You did not violate any conditions of your status.

  • You have not committed any crime that would affect your eligibility.

However, there are instances when you cannot apply for a status change. Changing your nonimmigrant status is not allowed if you were admitted into the country under any of the following:

  • Visa Waiver Program

  • D nonimmigrant status (crew member)

  • C nonimmigrant visa (in transit)

  • In transit through the US without a visa (TWOV)

  • K nonimmigrant visa (US citizen fiancé or dependent of fiancé)

  • S nonimmigrant visa (informant and accompanying family on terrorism or organized crime)

Note that those who were convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or of a drug violation may be refused by the USCIS.

Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, Can Help

Holders of nonimmigrant visas can adjust status and become lawful permanent residents as long as they are eligible for one of the various green card categories. Let our attorneys help you achieve your American dream. Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law, may be able to help you with your adjustment of status application and any other complex immigration issues.

Our lawyers have been helping nonimmigrants in the U.S. for several years now. With our client-centered and personalized approach, we have achieved what many have not – a high success rate and a stellar reputation.

Are you a U.S. citizen or permanent resident wanting to bring your spouse to the USA? Do you want to know more about filing a change of status application? For questions or assistance with your immigrant visa application, call us at Andrew T. Thomas, Attorneys at Law.

Schedule your free consultation today!