If you are in the United States with a non-immigrant visa, and if you need or desire to change your immigration status, keep reading. You’ll learn how to change to another non-immigrant category and how to change from non-immigrant status to legal permanent resident status, and how an employment immigration law firm can help.
You’ll also learn about the difficulties you may face as new regulations regarding changes of status are imposed by the Trump Administration, so keep reading.
WHAT ARE “NON-IMMIGRANT” VISAS AND VISA CATEGORIES?
Non-immigrant visas may be approved for immigrants planning to be temporarily in the U.S. More than forty categories of non-immigrant visas have been established.
Some non-immigrant visas are issued for temporary employment; others are issued to students, business people, tourists, and diplomats who will be temporarily in the U.S.
HOW DO YOU CHANGE YOUR NON-IMMIGRANT STATUS?
Changing your nonimmigrant status to another nonimmigrant visa category can be complicated.
For instance, if you do not have work authorization, but if you’ve decided to seek or accept temporary employment in the U.S., your presumed employer must file a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker (Form I-129) on your behalf.
And if you entered the U.S. in one of the following nonimmigrant categories, you may not apply for a change of nonimmigrant status, and you must exit the U.S. on or before the expiration date printed on your Form I-94: These categories are K1, K2, J1, M1, C, D, S, WT, WB, and Q2.
WHO QUALIFIES TO REQUEST A CHANGE OF STATUS?
Your nonimmigrant status can probably be changed if you are not in one of the nonimmigrant categories listed above and if:
1. You lawfully entered the United States.
2. Nothing disqualifies you from any immigration benefits.
3. Nothing requires you to exit the U.S. before changing your status.
4. You apply to change your status prior to the expiration date printed on your Form I-94.
You may apply for a change of non-immigrant status beginning six months prior to your Form I-94 expiration date. Be sure to file your request at least sixty days prior to that expiration date.
Have patience. It will take time to process your change of status request.
Your paperwork must be complete, accurate, and on time, or your change of status could be delayed or even denied.
If you’re eligible, and if you need to request a change of status, an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney can ensure that no mistakes or misunderstandings hold up the process.
WHAT IS “ADJUSTMENT” OF STATUS?
Adjustment of status is the process of changing from a nonimmigrant immigration status to permanent lawful resident status – that is, becoming a green card holder.
A temporary visitor may apply for lawful permanent resident status if the individual lawfully entered the U.S. and meets all other immigration requirements.
If you already have a visa and you’re already in the United States, you can probably have your status adjusted and acquire a green card without being required to return to your home country for consular visa processing.
WHAT’S THE FIRST STEP TO OBTAINING A GREEN CARD?
The first step in the adjustment of status process is to determine if you fall into a green card-eligible immigrant category. If you are in the United States, and if you are eligible for adjustment of status, you must file a Form I-485.
If you apply to become a lawful permanent resident under section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), you must complete both Form I‑485 and Form I-485 Supplement A. Let an experienced immigration lawyer guide you through these complicated forms.
After filing the form or forms, you’ll be scheduled for an appointment at a local Application Support Center to provide your fingerprints, photograph, and signature. Your biometrics are used to verify your identity and to conduct the required background and security checks.
When you seek lawful permanent resident status in the United States, do it from the beginning with help from a good immigration lawyer who can answer your questions, help you compile the required documentation, and check your application forms for completeness and accuracy.
WHAT IS THE 90-DAY RULE?
Adjustment of status has become somewhat more difficult under the Trump Administration. In September 2017, the Department of State adopted a harsh new “90-day rule.”
Under this rule, 90 days must pass after admission before anyone in a nonimmigrant status can safely file an adjustment of status application for lawful permanent residency without the government claiming that willful misrepresentation was committed at entry.
HOW CAN YOU BRING FAMILY MEMBERS TO THE U.S.?
A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident may petition for certain family members to live in the United States and acquire green cards.
A citizen or lawful permanent resident launches the process by filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. To obtain a green card based on a family relationship, the immigrant must be in either the immediate relative or family preference category.
Form I-130 establishes a qualifying relationship so that the relative may apply for a green card.
WHAT ABOUT BRINGING YOUR FIANCÉE, FIANCÉ, OR SPOUSE TO THE U.S.?
Bringing your fiancée, fiancé, or spouse into the United States is a procedure that can take time, so you need to get started as soon as you can. Spouses, fiancées, and fiancés will require one of these “K” visas:
• K-1 for fiancés and fiancées of U.S. citizens
• K-2 for eligible children of fiancées and fiancés of U.S. citizens
• K-3 for spouses of U.S. citizens
• K-4 for qualified children of the spouses of U.S. citizens
The K visa is a nonimmigrant, temporary visa. The person receiving a K-1 visa has ninety days to marry the U.S. petitioner-citizen and request lawful permanent resident status. If no wedding takes place within ninety days, the K-1 visa holder could be targeted for deportation.
HOW IS A K-1 VISA OBTAINED?
The K-1 visa process begins when a U.S. citizen submits Form I-129F to petition U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to recognize a foreign citizen as the U.S. citizen’s fiancé or fiancée.
Evidence indicating that both parties are free to marry and in fact intend to marry must be included with Form I-129F.
By itself, approval of Form I-129F does not allow a fiancé or fiancée entry into the U.S., and it does not ensure that the State Department will approve a K-1 visa. If the K-1 visa is granted, it is good for one entry into the U.S.
Subsequent to the wedding ceremony, a K-1 visa holder may request lawful permanent resident status by filing Form I-485 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
HOW CAN AN IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY HELP?
U.S. immigration law is exceedingly complicated, and in the current era, every immigration request an application will be scrutinized thoroughly. You’re going to need legal help and advice that you can absolutely depend on.
To obtain a visa, seek a change or adjustment of status, or bring someone you love to the U.S., start by scheduling a consultation with an experienced Las Vegas immigration attorney who will guide you through every step of the change of status or adjustment of status process.