Traveling the path to permanent residency: What you should know

Applying for an adjustment of status in North Carolina is a complex process that requires strict attention to detail.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, approximately 176,403 applications were submitted for an adjustment of status in the first three months of 2017. Of those, 134,402 were accepted, but more than 13,000 were denied. People living in North Carolina already who are applying for a green card should have an idea of what it takes to get to legal permanent residency. Here, we take a look at some commonly asked questions and review how to avoid the obstacles.

What is an adjustment of status?

When people decide they wish to live here permanently, they must apply for what is called an adjustment of status, or a green card. As the American Immigration Center points out, being on a valid nonimmigrant status and in the country is a prerequisite for applying for a green card. People who are not in the country at the time must go through consular processing.

How do I know if I am eligible?

There are a number of ways someone may be eligible for a green card. For example, obtaining one through family members or through employment are common ways people become legal permanent residents.

The following classifications may also be eligible:

  • Using special immigrant status, such as a religious worker or international organization employee
  • Victims of abuse, human trafficking and other crimes
  • Refugees or those granted asylum at least one year prior to application
  • Registering for a green card for people who have lived in the U.S. since 1972.

Lastly, there are several other options that fit specific groups of people, such as those who would fall under the Cuban Adjustment Act or people selected through the state department's diversity program.

Even under each of these options are more requirements. It is imperative to understand the eligibility mandates prior to submitting an application.

Will my application get accepted?

The USCIS bases acceptance on a number of factors other than simply eligibility. For example, prior to even applying for a green card, there must be adjustment of status spots available. There are certain windows during which filing the application is prudent.

Additionally, while the applicant must complete a petition for immigration, someone else typically has to file them on his or her behalf. This would be the person's sponsor. Once this petition has been accepted, the applicant may file the adjustment of status paperwork.

The work does not end there. In addition to background and security checks, the USCIS may require an interview and ask for additional items, such as more paperwork.

What if I do not agree with the decision?

If the application is denied, the USCIS will inform the person as to why. At that time, the person will also learn if the decision may be appealed. There is also the option to file a motion to either reconsider or reopen the application.

Clearly, an adjustment of status is a highly detailed process. People who have concerns about this issue should speak with an immigration attorney in North Carolina.