Fri | May 29, 2020

Can I just adjust my status?

Published:Monday | May 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM

Dear Mrs Walker Huntington:

My mother has been a green card holder since 2013. She submitted my paperwork last year. My approval date was August 2017.

She will be applying for her citizenship next March.

My understanding is that once the approval is received (about two years after submission), I can change my status and leave Jamaica. Is this so?

If not, do I have to wait the seven years?

Thanks in advance.


Dear SN,

Lawful permanent resident (green card holder) of the United States are permitted to petition for their spouses and unmarried children to live with them in the United States. These categories of beneficiaries are not considered immediate relatives and are categorised by preference along with some US citizen beneficiaries. The green card beneficiaries are the F2A (spouses and under 21-year-old children), and F2B (unmarried, over 21-year-old sons and daughters) preferences.

Preference category beneficiaries must wait until their USCIS petitions are approved and assigned a priority date and then wait for that priority date to become current before they are eligible for a green card. Each month the National Visa Center issues a visa bulletin that gives the current priority dates for which visas are available.

Immediate relatives of US citizens are permitted to concurrently adjust their status to a green card holder if they are lawfully present in the United States when their relative files a residency petition. Relatives of a green card holder cannot concurrently file to adjust their status.

F2A and F2B beneficiaries must wait until a visa is available for them. Likewise, adult daughters of US citizens are in the F1 preference category and must also wait until a visa is available for them. This presents a problem to persons such as yourself who want to be in the United States and change their status. First, if they are in the United States and have overstayed their allotted time, they cannot adjust their status (only immediate relatives of US citizens can do this). Second, if they have waited years outside the country for their priority date to become current and suddenly come to the United States when their visa is available and file to change their status, they will raise a red flag that they intended to do this and thereby invalidate their entry, and their visa can be denied. If you are outside the United States and your visa is current, then you would be going to the embassy for the interview anyway and if approved, you would be eligible to migrate.

You clearly are not allowed to change status when your petition is approved as you have been told, you must wait until your priority date is current to receive a green card. The only time to change status in the United States is if you are the beneficiary of an immediate relative petition or if you are in a preference category, your visa number is available and you have not accrued unlawful presence.

Dahlia A. Walker-Huntington, Esq, is a Jamaican-American attorney who practises immigration law in the United States; and family, criminal, international and personal-injury law in Florida. She is a mediator, arbitrator and special magistrate in Broward County, Florida.