A person who qualifies to be a permanent resident may be able to apply to obtain a green card without leaving the U.S. This procedure is called adjustment of status (AOS). When a person applies for adjustment of status, he also applies for a work permit (EAD) and, if he is eligible, for a travel permit (“advance parole”). Generally, an applicant for adjustment of status must have entered the U.S. legally and have never violated his immigration status.
To apply for adjustment of status
You must submit a form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status plus supporting evidence and the proper filing fee. Use form I-765 to apply for an EAD work permit and form I-131 to apply for an Advance Parole travel permit.
There are some exceptions to the general rule to qualify for Adjustment of Status.
Section 245(i) of the law provides that certain persons with old priority dates may pay a penalty fee and adjust their status despite entering the U.S. illegally or violating or overstaying their nonimmigrant status.
Section 245(k) provides that if a person is applying for AOS pursuant to an employment-based immigrant visa petition, he is eligible to do so as long as he entered the U.S. lawfully and has not been out of status for over 180 days since his most recent admission.
Also, persons who are immediate relatives (parents, spouses and children of U.S. citizens) may adjust their status if they entered the U.S. lawfully even if they overstayed or worked without authorization without having to pay a penalty fee. A U.S. citizen son or daughter must be 21 years of age or older in order to sponsor his parents for green cards.
U.S. immigration laws provide a variety of ways for people to apply for a Green Card. The eligibility requirements for adjustment of status may vary depending on the immigrant category you are applying under. The first step in the adjustment of status process is to determine if you fit into a specific immigrant category.
Go to our Green Card Eligibility Categories page to see all the possible categories you can apply under. Once you find your immigrant category, you can then go to the specific page that lists what the eligibility requirements are.
Adjustment of status is the process that you can use to apply for lawful permanent resident status (also known as applying for a Green Card) when you are present in the United States. This means that you may get a Green Card without having to return to your home country to complete visa processing.
More information can be found here.
In general, you may not file your Form I-485 until a visa is available in your category. For information on visa availability, see the Visa Availability and Priority Dates page, the Adjustment of Status Filing Charts, and the Department of State website to view the Visa Bulletin.
For exceptions to the visa availability requirement, please check your specific immigrant category for more information.
Most people who apply for a Green Card will need to complete at least two forms—an immigrant petition and a Green Card application. Someone else usually must file the petition for you (often referred to as sponsoring or petitioning for you), although you may be eligible to file for yourself in some cases. Here are the most common forms:
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
- Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
- Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition
- Form I-589, Application for Asylum and for Withholding of Removal
Other petitions include:
- Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant
- Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
- Form I-918, Petition of U Nonimmigrant Status
- Form I-929, Petition for Qualifying Family Member of a U-1 Nonimmigrant
Most categories require you to have an approved immigrant petition before you can file a Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. However, some categories may allow you to file your Form I-485 at the same time that the immigrant petition is filed or while the immigrant petition is pending. This is called “concurrent filing.” For more information on concurrent filing, see our Concurrent Filing page or the specific page for your eligibility category.
Some categories do not require an underlying immigrant petition (for example, Cuban Adjustment Act). Go to our Green Card Eligibility Categories page to determine if an immigrant petition is or is not required for each category.