Q: What Is the Difference Between Changing My Status and Adjusting My Status?

Full Question: I want to apply for a green card. Is there a difference between changing my status and adjusting my status?

Answer: Kind of.

When someone goes from having one status to another, they have changed their status. For example, if you came to the United States with a visitor’s visa, then you later received a green card, you have changed your status from a visitor to a legal permanent resident. And depending on your relationship to the petitioner, you have also adjusted your status.

Adjustment of Status is a benefit given to certain family members who are already in the United States. Adjustment of Status allows the beneficiary to get a green card without leaving the United States. Adjustment of Status is only available to family members who have an immigrant visa immediately available to them, thus Adjustment of Status is only available to immediate relatives, such as a spouse or an unmarried child under 21 years of age. This process enables a petitioner to submit all of the necessary documents at the same time.

If you do not qualify as someone’s immediate relative, you won’t be able to adjust your status, but you may still be able to change your status. For example, a brother or sister is not an immediate relative for immigration purposes. So if you are the petitioner’s brother or sister, you cannot adjust your status and instead will need to change your status through what is called consular processing. Through this process, when the beneficiary’s immigrant visa is ready (i.e. when their priority date is current), they may apply for a green card and would need to conduct their green card interview overseas. If you are in the U.S., believe you qualify for a green card, and are not an immediate relative, please discuss your case with an immigration lawyer.  There are slightly different requirements for non-immediate relatives.

If you have questions about whether you qualify for a green card, and what category you fit into, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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