FAQS: Adjustment of Status (AOS)
Frequently Asked Questions About Green Cards
An Adjustment of Status (AOS) application is the process you use to apply for lawful permanent resident status (commonly known as applying for a Green Card) while you are physically present in the United States.
Here are some answers to common questions about the AOS.
Unless you have a valid H or L visa, you must wait to travel abroad until you receive your Advance Parole (AP) document. You must have a valid AP document to leave the country, otherwise your AOS application will be considered abandoned. If you have an urgent need to travel for business or humanitarian reasons and your AP is still pending, you can apply for Emergency Advance Parole. Otherwise, if you hold an H or L visa status, you can continue to travel internationally while the AOS is pending.
When you apply for AOS, you can apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to work while your green card application is pending. The EAD is a temporary work permit allowing you to work for an employer in the US. It usually takes 2-5 months for the EAD to be issued (but note processing times are always in flux). If you do not hold valid employment authorization from another visa status (e.g. H-1B, L-1, O-1, etc.), you can only begin employment once you receive your EAD. With an EAD, you can work for any employer, full-time or part-time.
Consular processing refers to the process of obtaining your Immigrant Visa (IV) at a US Embassy overseas. Once your immigrant petition is approved (e.g. I-140 or I-130), the USCIS forwards the approval to the State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC), who then takes over the case and collects the application and supporting materials for your IV. Once you complete your IV interview at the US Embassy, you then travel to the US with your IV. Once you have been admitted into the US with your IV, you are now a US permanent resident and the USCIS usually produces the actual “green card” within 60 days of arrival.
NOTE: Once you enter the US with your IV, this is proof of your permanent resident status for up to a year. So, you can use the IV to travel internationally before you even receive the actual green card.
Adjustment of Status (“AOS”) refers to filing for your green card from within the US. You are “adjusting” from a visa status to permanent residency. So, once your AOS application is approved, you are immediately a permanent resident and should receive your green card within 60 days of approval.
NOTE: AOS is always a much faster process than IV.