Arriving Alien Adjustment of Status: Comprehensive Guide

In the intricate realm of U.S. immigration, the Arriving Alien Adjustment of Status (AOS) plays a pivotal role. This process allows eligible non-citizens present in the United States to apply for lawful permanent resident status without the necessity of returning to their home country. Understanding the nuances and legal intricacies involved is crucial for a smooth and successful application.

Understanding Adjustment of Status

Adjustment of Status is a procedure that permits individuals already in the United States to apply for a green card (lawful permanent residence). This process is overseen by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and is distinct from consular processing, which requires applicants to obtain their visa from a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad.

Who Qualifies as an Arriving Alien?

An “arriving alien” is typically someone who is seeking admission into the United States at a port of entry or who has been paroled into the United States. This designation is crucial because it affects the individual’s eligibility for AOS. Arriving aliens are often those who entered the U.S. without a valid visa or who were paroled into the country under special circumstances.

Eligibility Criteria for Adjustment of Status

To qualify for AOS as an arriving alien, several key criteria must be met:

  • Physical Presence in the U.S.: The applicant must be physically present in the United States.
  • Eligibility for a Green Card: The applicant must be eligible for one of the immigrant categories that allow for AOS.
  • Inspection and Admission or Parole: The applicant must have been inspected and either admitted or paroled into the U.S.
  • Visa Availability: There must be an immediately available visa for the applicant’s category at the time of filing.
  • No Bar to Adjustment: The applicant must not be subject to any bars to adjustment, such as certain criminal convictions or immigration violations.

Steps to File for Adjustment of Status

  1. Determine Eligibility: Verify that you meet all eligibility criteria for AOS.
  2. File Form I-485: Submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with the necessary supporting documents.
  3. Biometrics Appointment: Attend the biometrics appointment to provide fingerprints, photographs, and signatures.
  4. Interview: Attend the interview (if required) with a USCIS officer to answer questions about your application.
  5. Receive Decision: Await the decision from USCIS. If approved, you will receive your green card.

Documentation Required for Adjustment of Status

When filing for AOS, the following documents are typically required:

  • Form I-485: Completed and signed.
  • Proof of Eligibility: Evidence supporting your eligibility for a green card.
  • Form I-94: Arrival/Departure Record.
  • Passport: Copy of your passport, including the visa page.
  • Medical Examination: Form I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination Record.
  • Affidavit of Support: Form I-864, to prove financial support.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Navigating the AOS process can be fraught with challenges. Common issues include:

  • Incomplete Applications: Ensure all forms are complete and all required documents are submitted.
  • Ineligibility: Verify eligibility thoroughly before applying to avoid denials.
  • Delays: Be prepared for potential delays and keep track of your application status.
  • Legal Complexities: Consider consulting an immigration attorney to navigate complex cases or issues.

Impact of Recent Policy Changes

Immigration policies are subject to change, and recent updates can impact the AOS process. It is crucial to stay informed about any changes that might affect your application. Recent policy shifts, such as adjustments in visa availability or new guidelines from USCIS, can directly influence the processing time and eligibility criteria.

Benefits of Adjustment of Status

Choosing AOS offers several advantages:

  • Remain in the U.S.: Applicants can stay in the U.S. while their application is processed.
  • Work Authorization: Applicants may apply for employment authorization while their AOS application is pending.
  • Travel Permission: Applicants can also apply for advance parole, allowing them to travel abroad and return to the U.S. while their AOS application is pending.


The process of Arriving Alien Adjustment of Status is a critical pathway to lawful permanent residence in the United States. Understanding the eligibility requirements, necessary documentation, and potential challenges is essential for a successful application. Staying informed about policy changes and seeking professional guidance can further streamline the process.