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Adjusting your resident status from temporary to permanent

A lot has happened in the time since you applied for your visa to work, study or travel in the U.S. Perhaps you met someone you want to remain with, or you simply fell in love with Texas. Whatever your reasons, if your temporary visa is due to expire, you have some decisions to make. You can request to extend your visa, or you can take steps to make the U.S. your home.

To stay in the U.S., you will need to apply for an adjustment of your status from temporary to permanent residency. As with any application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, you should be prepared for paperwork and waiting. It is a good idea not to put off making this decision, especially if your visa is close to its expiration.

What happens next?

When you are adjusting from a temporary visa to a green card and you are already residing in the U.S., you will not have to travel back to your home country for your interview as with other paths of immigration. Additionally, if your visa expires after you have applied for a status adjustment, you may remain in the country until the process of adjusting your status is complete. Nevertheless, applying as early as possible and reaching out for legal assistance may improve your chances of getting through the process smoothly.

You can expect the following steps:

  • File Form I-485, either by going online or mailing a paper copy. You complete this form yourself, not your sponsor.
  • Watch your mail for a letter from the USCIS informing you of your appointment to provide your biometric information, which includes your photo, fingerprints, signature and verification that the information you provide is true and accurate.
  • You will also submit to a criminal background investigation and security check.
  • After immigration authorities review your information, they will decide whether to call you for an interview or waive this step.
  • If USCIS wants to interview you, be sure to bring originals of all your immigration and identification documents, copies of your adjustment of status form, and your sponsor if you have one.
  • You may experience a delay in the process if USCIS requests additional information or if you neglect to submit all the forms and information agents request.

Once the interview is complete, you will wait for the results, which will arrive in the mail. If the USCIS denies your application for a change of status, you may ask the agency to reconsider its decision, but this is a complicated process. For any immigration procedure, you may find it helpful to have an experienced legal ally guiding and advocating for you.

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