Adjustment of Status and Naturalization

Adjustment of Status
Adjustment of Status is a procedure that allows an eligible applicant to become a lawful permanent resident (also known as a “green card holder”) of the United States without having to go abroad and apply for an immigrant visa. An individual may be eligible to apply for adjustment to permanent resident status if s/he is already in the U.S., and if the individual has an approved employment based immigrant visa petition or family based immigrant visa petition, or was admitted to the U.S. as the K-1 fiance of a U.S. citizen, or if the individual is an asylee or refugee.  There are other nationality-based programs as well.

An alternative to Adjustment of Status is Consular Processing.

Consular Processing
Citizens of foreign countries who wish to obtain permanent resident status in the U.S. generally must obtain immigrant visas at the appropriate Consulate or U.S. Embassy.  Unlike nonimmigrant visas, an immigrant visa petition permits the person who receives it to live indefinitely in the United States and to seek employment.  In Consular Processing, the interview for an immigrant visa takes place at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate that has the jurisdiction over the beneficiary. There are three types of immigrant visa categories:

  • Family Based Immigration
  • Employment Based Immigration
  • Diversity Visa- Lottery

Naturalization

Naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship and nationality by somebody who was not a citizen of that country at the time of birth. Before an individual applies for naturalization in the United States, s/he must meet a few requirements.  Depending on each individual’s situation, there are different requirements, however, generally, an applicant for naturalization must:

  • Be 18 years old or older at the time of filing the Application for Naturalization;
  • Be a lawful permanent resident;
  • Demonstrate continuous permanent residence in the United States for at least 5 years;
  • Demonstrate that you have been physically present in the United States for 30 months;
  • Demonstrate that you have lived for at least 3 months in the state or USCIS district where you claim residence.

If an individual has a parent that was a U.S. citizen, either by birth or naturalization, before s/he turned 18 years old, s/he may have a claim to citizenship as well under derivative citizenship.

Derivative Citizenship
This category is for citizenship conveyed to children through the naturalization of parents or, under certain circumstances, to foreign-born children adopted by U.S. citizen parents, provided certain conditions are met.