How to Navigate Your Adjustment of Status (AOS)

Adjustment of Status is the process of obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident (greencard) status in the United States without having to leave the United States to do so. It is important to distinguish AOS from EOS / COS because AOS concerns obtaining IMMIGRANT status, versus changing (COS) or extending (EOS) NONimmigrant status. It is also important to realize that this option is not available to everyone. It is mainly useful for people who are in lawful status in the U.S. (with a valid visa) or who entered the U.S. lawfully and are green-card eligible as the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen.

First: Determine Your Basis to Immigrate

The first step in the adjustment of status process is to determine if you fit into a specific immigrant category. Most immigrants become eligible for permanent residence (greencard) through a petition filed by a family member or employer. Others may become permanent residents through first obtaining refugee or asylum status, or through other special provisions. It is advisable to consult with a qualified immigration lawyer at this point, to be certain that you understand all your options.

Second: File the Immigrant Petition

When you know what category best fits your situation, in most cases you will need to have someone file an immigrant petition on your behalf. (a) Family Based: Family based categories require that a U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf; (b) Employment Based: Employment based categories usually require the intending U.S. employer to file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, on your behalf. Entrepreneurs who intend to invest significant amounts of capital into a business venture in the U.S. may file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur on their own; (c) Special Classes: In specific circumstances, immigrants may file a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), and Special Immigrant, or have one filed on their behalf; (d) Humanitarian: Most humanitarian programs do not require an underlying petition, but additional requirements may need to be met before there can be an adjustment of status.

Third: Check Visa Availability

You may not file your Form I-485 until a visa is available in your category. If an immigrant visa is currently available to you, you may be able to apply for permanent residence status on Form I-485.

Fourth: File Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residency or Adjust Status

Regardless of whether a petition must be filed and approved prior to your filing Form I-485 or whether it may be filed concurrently, you will need to apply for permanent residence on Form I-485 at the appropriate time. (Note: Some categories may require a different form than Form I-485.)

Fifth: Go to your Application Support Center Appointment (Biometrics)

After you file your application, you will be notified to appear at an Application Support Center for biometrics collection, which usually involves having your picture and signature taken and being fingerprinted. This information will be used to conduct your required security checks and for eventual creation of a green card, employment authorization (work permit) or advance parole document.

Sixth: Go to Your Interview (If Your Application Requires One)

You may be notified of the date, time, and location for an interview at a USCIS office to answer questions under oath or affirmation regarding your application. You must attend all interviews when you receive a notice.

Seventh: Get You Final Decision in the Mail

After all paperwork has been received, interviews conducted (if necessary), security checks completed, and other eligibility requirements reviewed, your case will be ready for a decision by USCIS. In all cases, you will be notified of the decision in writing.


Each situation is different, so visa holders who are interested in learning more about Change of Status are encouraged consult with an immigration lawyer on the facts and nuances in their respective situations. Individual facts vary, and can create circumstances where certain immigration opportunities and/or risks are more likely to arise. We hope you have found this information helpful. Please do not hesitate to contact Van Wormer Law today at (703) 244-6733 or

Additional Resources

Please Note: The information provided at this site is of a general nature and may not apply to any particular set of facts or under all circumstances. It should not be construed as legal advice and does not constitute an engagement of Van Wormer Law or establish an attorney-client relationship. No attorney-client relationship exists until Van Wormer Law has completed a conflicts check and the prospective client signs a representation agreement.

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