5 Ways to Get Your Adjustment of Status Moving Forward
Waiting for your adjustment of status to be processed and approved can be a painfully slow process. For many people, it can take years and years for their priority date to become current and a visa to be available. Even then, you still have to file your adjustment of status and wait for it to be processed by USCIS. Long USCIS processing times have only made the wait worse. Because the wait for your green card is already long, it is important to keep the process moving forward.
There are several steps you can take to make sure your adjustment of status is in the best position to be processed as quickly as possible. First, submitting a complete and accurate adjustment of status application once your priority date is current is the best way to ensure a smooth process. Listed below are some additional steps you can take to ensure your adjustment is processed as fast as possible.
Keep Your Adjustment of Status Files/Documentation Up to Date
While it is always a best practice to submit a complete and accurate adjustment of status application, that is not always possible. Often, applicants may struggle to get a copy of their birth certificate or have trouble getting birth certificate affidavits. Maybe there is not an appointment available any time soon to get your medical evaluation done or you do not want to pay for the exam when you don’t think a visa will be available to you within the next years anyway.
When this happens, it is important to gather that information as quickly as possible. If you submitted an adjustment application that was missing required documentation, you can always send the documents to USCIS before they issue a Request for Evidence (RFE). In fact, submitting the documentation before USCIS issues the RFE is the best way to keep your case moving forward. When you send the materials in, just include your A-Number in big bold font on a cover letter so USCIS can quickly supplement your application.
Further, if USCIS does issue an RFE, keeping your documentation up to date and complete will make responding to that request easier. For help finding a USCIS authorized doctor to perform your medical examination, please look here. Normally, medical evaluations submitted the initial filing are only valid for 60 days after the doctor has signed them. However, on December 9, 2021, USCIS announced they are extending the validity period to two years after the evaluation has been signed. USCIS still encourages applicants to get their medical evaluations done as close to the filing of their adjustment as possible.
USCIS has specific requirements regarding birth certificates that they will accept. Acceptable birth certificates must include your full name, your parents’ names, your date of birth and place of birth, and the birth certificate must have been registered within a reasonable time – generally one month from your date of birth.
If you have a birth certificate, but it does not meet USCIS requirements, then you can still submit it. However, birth affidavits and secondary evidence will help. For more information on how to submit sufficient birth certificate evidence, please visit this previous blog post.
Request Expedited Processing
In certain situations, you may benefit from requesting expedited processing from USCIS. USCIS has the sole discretion to accommodate an expedite request. While USCIS is very hesitant to grant expedite requests, there are some situations where they may consider granting a request.
Severe Financial Loss
If you can demonstrate that a company would suffer severe financial loss if your adjustment of status is not expedited, then USCIS may grant your expedite request. Further, if you can show you will lose your job, which would result in your severe financial loss, that may be sufficient evidence, as well. However, merely showing your need for employment authorization is likely not enough for USCIS to grant your request.
At present, USCIS is very strictly interpreting this requirement such that very little is accepted. So if, for example, you are having trouble getting a favorable mortgage rate because you are not yet a permanent resident, USCIS is not likely to consider that to be a severe financial loss.
Urgent Humanitarian Concerns
Here, the expedite request is related to human welfare. Essentially, you could be requesting expedited service because you or a family member is sick, need for medical care, disability, extreme living conditions, etc. The reasons may vary—however, they must truly be urgent, human welfare related concerns.
In this respect, USCIS may also treat your child’s case (and therefore your case) to expedited processing if your child is about to age-out.
On August 10, 2021, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an advisory memorandum allowing certain healthcare and childcare workers to request expedited processing if they have a pending Form I-765 and their work authorization has expired or will expire in the next 30 days.
While the expedite request will likely only expedite the approval of your Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and not your adjustment, it may still be worth requesting it.
Contact Your Local Congressperson
While contacting your local congressperson may seem like a last-ditch effort, it may have a positive impact on your adjustment application. Your congressional representative can open a direct line of communication with USCIS and potentially help speed up processing times for your case. Of course, the decision to expedite your case lies solely with USCIS.
To contact your local congressional representative, you will first need know who they are. You can use this website to find out who your representative is simply by putting your address and zip code in. Once you have identified your representative, you can email or call them using the contact information on the House of Representatives website. If you choose to call instead of email, try calling your representative’s local office instead of their Washington D.C. number. Their local office will be accustomed to helping constituents.
If you are able to contact your representative and their office is willing to help, you will likely have to fill out a privacy waiver so that they may contact USCIS or the Department of State (DOS) on your behalf.
Submit a Service Inquiry or Contact the Ombudsman Office
If your case is outside normal processing times, you can consider submitting a Service Inquiry or contacting the Office of the Citizenship and Immigration Services Ombudsman (CIS Ombudsman). To determine if your case is outside normal processing times, refer to the USCIS processing times page.
To submit a service inquiry online, visit this page and fill out the required information. To contact the CIS Ombudsman’s office and ask for case assistance, use this page. Remember, to use either service, your case needs to be outside of normal processing times. If there is no published processing time for your form type, then at least six months must have passed since you filed your case with USCIS before the Ombudsman’s office can help.
Finally, if your case has been pending for an incredibly long time—far outside normal processing times—then you may want to consider litigation. Expediting the adjudication of an application through litigation is done by filing a mandamus lawsuit in federal court. Last week, Attorneys Sam and Brian spoke about this option during their weekly YouTube livestream.
If your case is within normal processing times, you likely do not have a strong mandamus case. However, if USCIS has been sitting on your case for several years with no action taken, litigation may be a good option for you. Consider watching last week’s livestream to see if litigation may be an option!
On April 1, 2022, USCIS’s Case Assistance Committee announced that USCIS directed the Nebraska Service Center (NSC) and Texas Service Center (TSC) to stop adjudicating employment-based I-485 applications on February 17, 2022 (except EB-4 based I-485 applications). All cases that are already under active review or a Request for Evidence has already been issued will remain at their respective service centers.
The TSC and NSC will now prioritize I-140 approvals, while the National Benefits Center (NBC) will prioritize the I-485 applications that are being redirected to them. Hopefully, policy change will improve processing times for adjustment of status applications. However, we do not expect to see a decrease in green card processing times soon, as they are only sending about 1,000 cases a week to the NBC and they are not adding any staff as of now.
Sam Shihab & Associates Can Help
If you are an immigrant with any questions or concerns regarding your immigration case, H-1B visas, green card applications, or any other legal matter, speak at once to an experienced Columbus immigration attorney. A good immigration lawyer can help you and your family with any immigration issues you face and defend you if you’re accused of violating immigration law.
Our immigration attorneys will review your forms and applications for thoroughness and accuracy. Immigration laws will continually change, but an experienced immigration attorney will always be able to give you the most up-to-date immigration advice you need.
We have offices in Dublin and Columbus, Ohio, Michigan, and Texas. But our full suite of immigration law services is available to clients nationwide and even around the world.
Contact us today!