Change of Status vs. Adjustment of Status

We often receive questions from individuals who are currently in the United States (US) and want to change their nonimmigrant status from one nonimmigrant status to another, or from a nonimmigrant status to an immigrant status. In order to help individuals fully understand these concepts this article explains immigrant intent, the differences between an immigrant and nonimmigrant, and the differences between change of status and adjustment of status.

  • What is immigrant intent? Immigrant intent is a term that embodies the intention that an individual has when they apply for admission to the US. According to immigration law, individuals that apply for admission to the US have one of two possible intentions. First, an individual may have the intent to stay in the US temporarily or nonimmigrant intent. This includes those that enter the US for travel, to study, work temporarily or come to the US on business.  Second, an individual may have the intent to stay in the US permanently, or immigrant intent. This includes those that enter the US to get married, re-unite permanently with family members or work on a permanent basis. Certain visa categories carry only nonimmigrant intent, others carry immigrant intent and others have both immigrant and nonimmigrant intent
  • What is an immigrant? An immigrant is an individual who is lawfully admitted to the US with the intent to work, live or otherwise make the US their permanent residence. An immigrant does not have the intention of returning to their home country and does not need to maintain a residence or ties to their home country.
  • What is a nonimmigrant? A nonimmigrant is an individual who is lawfully admitted to the US with the intent to work, live or study in the US temporarily. This includes the intent to return to their home country when their temporary activity comes to an end. A nonimmigrant must usually maintain ties to their home country, including a foreign residence.
  • What is a Change of Status? A change of status is when an individual has entered the US under a lawful nonimmigrant classification, continues to maintain such classification and then changes from that nonimmigrant classification to another. This often occurs when students enter the US to attend a University (J1 or F1), graduate and are offered employment (H1B). The student in this situation would apply for a change of status (From J1 or F1 to H1b) prior to the expiration of their current nonimmigrant status. This process in referred to as a change of status.
  • What is adjustment of status? Adjustment of status is when an individual has entered the US under a lawful nonimmigrant classification, continues to maintain such classification and then changes from that nonimmigrant classification to an immigrant classification. This often occurs when an employee enters the US to work temporarily (L1 or H1b) and is then offered permanent employment. The employee in this situation would apply for an adjustment of status (From L1 or H1b to permanent residence or a green card) prior to the expiration of their current nonimmigrant status. Another common situation is when an individual adjusts status after a bona fide marriage to a US citizen. This process in referred to as adjustment of status.

If you have questions about your immigration status or are planning on changing or adjusting your current status, contact us today to see how we can help you.

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