Many people visit the United States on short-term visas, whether as tourists, temporary workers, or students. Others come to the United States with the intention of going home and ending up finding love and getting married.

Temporary visas are just fine for those who intend to return to their home country, but if you want to move to the United States permanently, you will need to apply for Adjustment of Status (AOS).

What is an Adjustment of Status?

Adjustment of Status, or AOS, is a legal process for foreign nationals who want to become permanent residents of the United States. AOS is for people who are currently in the U.S. on a temporary visa.

If a person’s AOS application is accepted, they will be issued a Lawful Permanent Resident Card (green card) and allowed to live permanently in the United States. Once a person has their green card, they can eventually apply for citizenship if they meet all the requirements.

Who Will Qualify for AOS?

To qualify for an Adjustment of Status, you must have a valid visa (or be part of the Visa Waiver Program) at the time you apply for AOS. The only exception is if you are married to a U.S. citizen, and you have already overstayed your visa. However, applicants must have originally entered the country legally.

To apply for AOS, there must be a green card available to you. You might qualify if you have a sponsoring family member who is a U.S. citizen, you are part of a diversity program or lottery, or if there is a green card available to you through your employment with a U.S. company.

It’s important to note that some visa types are ineligible for AOS, as applying for permanent resident status on one of these visas can indicate that you secretly intended to immigrate when entering the country on a temporary visa. Applying for AOS while in the country on one of these visa types could get your application rejected.

How Long Does it Take to Get an Adjustment of Status?

The process of AOS can be lengthy, taking from approximately five months to three years. However, it’s hard to predict just how long processing will take. The good news is that if you apply for AOS, you can stay in the United States legally until your application is processed, even if you overstay your visa. To learn more and to discuss your case with our experienced New Jersey immigration lawyer, call our Hackensack firm at (201) 883-9800.