Can You Adjust Status While In Removal Proceedings?

passport and visa documents together on a table to be used in adjustment of statusWhen the United States Government has reason to believe that an immigrant has done something illegal, it may subject this individual to removal proceedings. This process generally begins when an immigrant receives a document called a Notice to Appear (NTA), which lists the charges and allegations the government has made against the individual. Although legal status may not be the first thing an immigrant is concerned about during removal proceedings, he/she could easily be wondering if an adjustment of status is possible during this period.

What Is Adjustment Of Status?

An adjustment of status happens when an immigrant living in the U.S. applies for lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. For most people in removal proceedings, their green card can generally be obtained based on either marriage to a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, although other green card categories can also be obtained depending on the facts of the case. There are certain requirements a foreign individual must meet in order to gain eligibility for adjustment of status. Here are those requirements:

  • The immigrant must not be facing any inadmissibility bars. (NOTE: If there are issues of inadmissibility, which tend to be more common in removal proceedings, waivers of inadmissibility may be available to you, or an exception may exist).
  • The immigrant lawfully entered the U.S.
  • The immigrant has an approved visa petition by USCIS, and that visa is immediately available.

As stated above, certain exceptions apply when determining if there are any inadmissibility bars in your case. For example, if the immigrant’s adjustment of status is based on marriage to a U.S. citizen, “unauthorized employment” which is a ground of inadmissibility, will not impact his or her ability to obtain lawful permanent resident status.

Eligibility Requirements To Adjust Status During Removal Proceedings

immigration citizens holding their passports and smiling at the cameraAn immigrant who is in removal proceedings is able to adjust his/her status during this period. This can be done so long as the immigrant has an approved visa petition and the visa is immediately available.

Adjustment Of Status During Removal Proceedings

When an immigrant in removal proceedings submits an application for adjustment of status to an immigration judge, USCIS must decide whether to approve the visa petition that has been filed on that immigrant’s behalf. If it is a Form I-130, which is also called the Petition for Alien Relative, then this is a petition filed by a relative of the immigrant.

If there is proof that a relationship between the immigrant and said relative exists, USCIS will need to approve this form. Once this petition has been approved, the judge must make a decision regarding Form I-485, which is the Application to Adjust Status or Register Permanent Residence.

If an immigrant got married after entering removal proceedings, he (or she) would need to prove that this marriage is real and was not simply carried out as a way to gain LPR status. As always, the evidence in these cases must be “clear and convincing.”

Adjustment Of Status After Violating Immigration Laws

If a foreign individual has violated his/her immigration status or has illegally entered the U.S., (undocumented) this immigrant may still be eligible to adjust his/her status. Section 245(i) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INS) states that an immigrant may apply for adjustment of status if he (or she):

  • Is the beneficiary of a visa petition
  • Had a visa petition or labor certification filed between Jan. 14, 1998, and April 30, 2001.
  • Had a visa petition or labor certification sent to USCIS or the Labor Department on or before April 30, 2001.

The process of applying for adjustment of status may often be confusing, so it’s important for the immigrant in question to consult with an experienced attorney.

Speak With The Experienced Immigration Attorneys

passport and judge gavel placed on top of a united states flagReach out to the experienced immigration attorneys at Johnson & Masumi, PC in Vienna, Virginia for more information on applying for adjustment of status while in removal proceedings. Since our founding in 1986, we have been dedicated to serving clients in Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC. We never hesitate to take on even the most complex cases.

Regardless of your situation or immigration status, one of our attorneys can evaluate your case to establish whether there is a strong and legitimate legal defense for you. Studies show that immigrants who obtain legal representation often have more success with their cases than those who do not. As long as you provide us with all the information pertinent to your case, we can help grant you relief. Call Johnson & Masumi today at (703) 688-8376 to learn more about our work or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys, who are experienced in removal and deportation defense.

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