Adjustment of status (AOS) is the second step for acquiring LPR status or a Green Card when the applicant is present in the United States. This means that applicants may get a Green Card without the need to return to their home country to complete visa processing. The applicant becomes a lawful permanent resident when the AOS application is approved.
If you are an applicant applying from the U.S. and your priority date is current, meaning that there is an immigrant visa available to you when the employment- or family-based petition is filed, you and your accompanying family members (spouse and children under 21 years old), may each file an application to adjust your nonimmigrant visa status to LPR states. If eligible, “concurrent” filing offers a variety of benefits to applicants and their dependents in the U.S. while they wait for their petition to be adjudicated by the USCIS. Such benefits include:
- Faster overall processing time, shortening the time it takes to obtain a Green Card, and
- Access to general employment authorization and permission to travel abroad for the Principal Applicant and dependents.
For example, with their AOS applications, the applicant and dependents may file two additional applications, requesting a work and travel “combination” card. Once issued, the combination card will provide all AOS applicants with an independent basis for work and travel authorization, protecting the foreign worker against unforeseen changes to their employment by allowing them to continue processing their green card case if they move into the same or a similar occupation.
The combination – work and travel – card will be issued for a 2-year validity period, and it can be renewed as long as the AOS application is pending with USCIS. Our attorneys will tell you, “…it is similar to having the benefits of a Green Card while the actual Green Card is pending…”.
It should be noted that most immigrant visas are numerically limited, allocated among the various employment-based and family-based categories and for each country. Each year, 140,000 immigrant visas are made available to employment-based immigrants and 266,000 immigrant visas are made available to family-based immigrants. The available supply covers both the principal immigrant (the foreign worker in employment-based cases) and certain immediate family members.
Each country’s immigrant visa usage is tracked by a chargeability system to count that country’s available supply. Green card applicants are typically charged to their country of birth for tracking the allocation of the visa, with exceptions to ensure family unity.
If the number of people applying for a visa in a particular category exceeds the supply for their country of chargeability in that category, the backlogged applicants must wait before continuing the green card process. This has implications particularly for foreign nationals from India, China, the Philippines, and Mexico. The applicant’s place in queue is set by the applicant’s priority date. The priority date is the filing date of the first step of the green card process with either: The DOL (labor certification, if required by employment-based sponsorship) or USCIS (Form I-140 or Form I-130). As such, it is important for applicants to lock in the earliest priority date.
Prior to filing, our attorneys will consult the Visa Bulletin to ensure that your visa type is current for filing the AOS application. If an immigrant visa is not available, we will strategize about whether an alternative “dual intent” visa is a viable option to remain in the U.S. until an immigrant visa becomes available. Our attorneys will work with you to gather all necessary documentation to support the AOS application. We will provide you with the contact information for USCIS-approved medical doctors that are closest to you. Finally, our attorneys will work with you to determine the best time to file you and your family’s AOS, work and travel applications.
After filing, our attorneys are available for all future administrative matters linked to your AOS applications. We will advise on biometrics appointments, work and travel combination card renewals, and prepare and file any responses to Requests for Evidence that may be issued by the USCIS.