When a person becomes a permanent resident without having to leave the United States, the person has gone through an adjustment of status.
Putting aside adjustment based by other means (such as asylum, registry, cancellation of removal, etc) there are 2 main ways to adjust status in family based cases: INA §245(a) and INA §245(i)
Generally it is better to adjust status because it allows the applicant to stay in the U.S., avoid possibly triggering the 3 & 10 year bars, and provides for appeals to review.
There are a number of red flags that the government looks for in adjustment of status. Examples include:
- History of contact with INS, CIS, ICF, CBP
- Those with prior deportation orders cannot adjust status. Through “reinstatement of removal” ICE can immediately remove any previously deported person. However, an individual who proceeds with Consular processing may be eligible for a waiver of prior deportation
- Criminal History
- Visa Fraud - if you entered on a nonimmigrant visa and made material misrepresentation as to your true intent at time of entry, or starting a job or got married to a U.S. citizen right after entry with a nonimmigrant visa, there could be issues with adjustment of status.
- Unlawful presence bars have been triggered
- Other grounds of inadmissibility apply
Adjustment of status is far more complicated than simply filling out the Form I-485. Submitting the form without first talking with an immigration lawyer could have serious adverse legal consequences and jeopardize your ability to remain in the United States.