Our Services

Adjustment of Status (Green Cards)

U.S. immigration law is based upon the principle of family reunification and is generally a two-step process. First, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident files a “visa petition” to sponsor his or her relative for immigration. There may be a long wait for the immigrant’s turn to be called after the petition is filed, depending on the status of the petitioner and the type of family relationship. For example, because the law limits the number of siblings of U.S. citizens who may immigrate each year, there is currently a backlog and immigrants can be expected to wait for a decade or more. In other cases, such as for the spouses, parents, and unmarried minor children of U.S. citizens, there are no per-year limits and consequently no waiting in line.

Even once it is an immigrant’s turn to immigrate, the immigrant must satisfy certain other requirements to convert the petition into a green card. If the immigrant is in the United States, the process to apply for a green card is called “adjustment of status.” In general, the immigrant must show that he was allowed to enter the United States by an immigration officer on his last entry in order to file his application within the United States. An exception may apply if the immigrant was sponsored on or before April 30, 2001. If the immigrant is eligible to apply within the United States, it typically takes only four months from date of filing to be interviewed and receive a decision on green card status. Immigrants may be represented by an attorney throughout the process–including during the actual interview.

Where an immigrant is outside of the United States, or does not qualify to apply from within the United States, he or she must apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate abroad. If the immigrant has previously lived unlawfully in the United States, he or she may be required to request a waiver for prior violations of the law. Immigrants who spend one year unlawfully in the United States are ineligible to receive a visa for 10 years after their departure. This creates a Catch-22 situation for many hopeful family-based immigrants: they must leave to take advantage of their family member’s petition, but the departure itself makes them ineligible to use it. Fortunately, DHS has authority to pardon these prior transgressions if the immigrant’s inability to enter the United States would case an extreme hardship to a parent or spouse who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

Whether you qualify for adjustment of status and need assistance applying within the United States, or will need to apply for an immigrant visa and waiver abroad, the attorneys of the Law Office of Robert L. Lewis have the experience and dedication to ensure your application has the highest chance of success.