Can You Adjust Status While in Removal Proceedings?


As an immigrant, navigating the complex and ever-changing immigration laws can be overwhelming and confusing. One of the most common questions that arises is whether an individual can adjust their status while in removal proceedings. The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no, as it depends on various factors. In this article, we will explore the concept of adjusting status while in removal proceedings and provide a comprehensive guide for those facing this situation.

Understanding Adjustment of Status

Definition of Adjustment of Status Adjustment of status is the process of changing an individual’s immigration status from non-immigrant to immigrant while they are physically present in the United States. This change allows individuals who are already in the U.S. on a temporary basis, such as students, tourists, or workers, to apply for permanent residency (a green card) without needing to return to their home country. Essentially, it’s a route for immigrants to become permanent residents. Significance of Adjustment of Status This process is incredibly significant for the individuals who choose it. It is a highly sought-after option for many immigrants, as it eliminates the need for consular processing, which can be time-consuming and risky. The convenience and safety of staying within the United States during the entire procedure cannot be overstated. No one wants to uproot their life, risk denial abroad, or endure the financial and emotional burden of separation from their family.

Benefits of Adjustment of Status

One of the main benefits of adjusting status is that it simplifies the immigration process. This process allows an individual to obtain a green card without having to leave the country. Avoiding international travel and the uncertainties associated with consular processing can bring immense relief. There’s also the added benefit of potentially faster processing times, allowing individuals to start their new chapter as permanent residents more swiftly. Beyond convenience, this process can often mean that applicants can remain in their jobs, keep their homes, and maintain their community ties while their applications are being processed. This stability is invaluable for many immigrants seeking to build a life in the United States.

Challenges of Consular Processing

In contrast, consular processing involves numerous hurdles. Consular processing can be time-consuming and risky. This statement underlines the uncertainties and delays that come with it. Applicants must travel back to their home countries for interviews at a U.S. consulate or embassy. During this period, there’s no guarantee of re-entry, and any issues or delays can lead to significant disruptions in their lives. Furthermore, the separation from family, potential loss of employment, and the financial burden of travel can add layers of stress. The risk of visa denials or administrative processing at consulates can leave applicants in limbo, unable to return to the United States. In essence, adjusting status while staying in the U.S. offers a safer, more streamlined, and often speedier path to permanent residency. By understanding and navigating this process, many immigrants find a way to secure their future in a country they hope to call home.

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What are Removal Proceedings?

Removal proceedings, also known as deportation proceedings, are legal proceedings initiated by the United States government to determine an individual’s eligibility to remain in the country. These proceedings are typically initiated when an individual is suspected of violating immigration laws or overstaying their visa. The goal of removal proceedings is to determine whether an individual should be allowed to stay in the United States or be removed from the country.

Can You Adjust Status While in Removal Proceedings?

The short answer is yes, it is possible to adjust status while in removal proceedings. However, the process is not as straightforward as it may seem. The ability to adjust status while in removal proceedings depends on various factors, including the individual’s immigration status, eligibility for a green card, and the reason for being in removal proceedings.

Immigration Status

The first factor to consider is the individual’s immigration status. If an individual is in the United States on a valid non-immigrant visa, such as a student or work visa, they may be eligible to adjust their status while in removal proceedings. However, if an individual entered the country illegally or overstayed their visa, they may not be eligible for adjustment of status.

Eligibility for a Green Card

Another crucial factor is an individual’s eligibility for a green card. To adjust status, an individual must have a valid basis for obtaining a green card, such as through employment, family sponsorship, or refugee/asylum status. If an individual does not have a valid basis for a green card, they may not be able to adjust their status while in removal proceedings.

Reason for Being in Removal Proceedings

The reason for being in removal proceedings is also a significant factor in determining whether an individual can adjust their status. If an individual is in removal proceedings due to a criminal conviction or other immigration violations, they may not be able to adjust their status. However, if an individual is in removal proceedings due to an expired visa or minor immigration violations, they may still be eligible to adjust their status.

How to Adjust Status While in Removal Proceedings

If an individual meets the eligibility requirements for adjusting status while in removal proceedings, they must follow specific steps to do so. The first step is to file an application for adjustment of status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This application must be accompanied by all necessary supporting documents, such as proof of eligibility for a green card and evidence of being in removal proceedings.
Once the application is filed, the individual must attend a hearing before an immigration judge. During this hearing, the judge will review the application and determine whether the individual is eligible for adjustment of status. If the judge approves the application, the individual will be granted a green card, and their removal proceedings will be terminated. However, if the judge denies the application, the individual may be subject to removal from the country.

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Conclusion

In conclusion, it is possible to adjust status while in removal proceedings, but it is a complex and challenging process. It is essential to consult with an experienced immigration attorney to determine eligibility and navigate the process successfully. Additionally, individuals must ensure they have a valid basis for a green card and are in removal proceedings for minor immigration violations to increase their chances of success.

FAQs

1. Can I adjust my status if I entered the country illegally?

If you entered the country illegally, you may not be eligible to adjust your status while in removal proceedings. However, you may be able to apply for a green card through other means, such as marriage to a U.S. citizen.

2. How long does the adjustment of status process take?

The adjustment of status process can take anywhere from several months to a year or more, depending on various factors, including the individual’s immigration status and the backlog of cases at USCIS.

3. Can I appeal if my application for adjustment of status is denied?

Yes, you can appeal the decision if your application for adjustment of status is denied. It is crucial to consult with an immigration attorney to determine the best course of action in this situation.