Adjustment Of Status And Naturalization

Adjustment of status is the process of becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States. As a lawful permanent resident, or green card holder, an individual is afforded the opportunity to live, work and petition for his or her spouse and children to immigrate to the U.S. Becoming a lawful permanent resident is the first step in seeking U.S. citizenship.

Naturalization is the process by which U.S. citizenship is granted to long-term lawful permanent residents who properly maintain their status and meet certain other requirements. Additional rights and responsibilities are granted to U.S. citizens, including the right to vote in local, state and federal elections, and the right to apply for certain employment reserved exclusively for U.S. citizens, among other things.

Becoming A Permanent Resident Of The US

There are essentially four ways in which an individual can qualify to apply for adjustment of status in order to become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S.:

  1. Petition by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative
  2. Petition by a U.S. employer
  3. Humanitarian grant (e.g., asylum, refugee status)
  4. Diversity visa program (i.e., green card lottery)

In most cases, if the individual is presently in the U.S. while his or her adjustment of status application is pending, he or she can also apply for employment authorization. If the adjustment of status application is approved, the individual obtains permanent resident status. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for applications for adjustment of status to be denied. If your application has been denied, you must act timely in filing a request for an appeal or reconsideration of the denial. Depending on the individual's status in the U.S. at the time of receiving the denial, the Department of Homeland Security may initiate removal proceedings.

Sohahong Law Group handles all aspects of the adjustment of status process, from advising clients as to whether or not they should proceed with filing an application to reviewing a denial, and filing an appeal of the case. In the event that you or a loved one has been placed in removal proceedings as a result of a denied adjustment of status application, our firm represents clients in removal proceedings, and will litigate your matter effectively and passionately.

The Naturalization Process Results In Citizenship

A lawful permanent resident can become a U.S. citizen by applying for naturalization. In order to be eligible to apply for naturalization, a lawful permanent resident must have obtained his or her lawful permanent resident status for at least three years or five years, depending on how he or she initially obtained that status. In addition, the person seeking to naturalize must also:

  • Be 18 or older at the time of filing the application for naturalization
  • Have lived in his or her current state or USCIS district for at least three months prior to the date of filing the application
  • Have continuous residence in the United States as a green card holder for a specified amount of time
  • Be physically present in the United States for a specified amount of time
  • Reside continuously within the United States from the date of application for naturalization up to the time of naturalization
  • Be able to read, write and speak English and have knowledge and an understanding of U.S. history and government (civics)
  • Be a person of good moral character, attached to the principles of the Constitution of the United States, and well-disposed to the good order and happiness of the United States during all relevant periods under the law

In addition to the above requirements, an individual who obtained his or her green card through marriage to a U.S. citizen must also have been living in marital union with the same U.S. citizen spouse for a specific amount of time, prior to filing his or her application for naturalization.

There are special requirements for children of U.S. citizens who are born abroad, or have acquired citizenship through their parents. Lawful permanent residents who have served in the U.S. armed services also have different regulations that govern their naturalization process.

While this process may seem straightforward, many naturalization applications are denied, as a result of either improper filing or submission of documents, or for more substantive reasons. With help from our firm, you can feel confident that both your adjustment of status and naturalization are handled with the utmost expertise, care and diligence. We can prevent costly and detrimental mistakes that may occur if you attempt to go about this complicated process on your own. If you have questions about adjusting your status or naturalizing, please contact us to arrange a consultation.