Immigration Lawyers

Green Card – Change of status


Why can’t I apply from my Green Card in the US?

You may be eligible for a Green Card and wondering why you can’t apply for your Green Card when you have already entered the United States? Why do you have to undergo the long drawn out process of apply for a Green Card from abroad? Why do you have to wait to live and work there?

The short answer is that Green Card applications can be submitted while the applicant is within the United States. However, this is somewhat complicated. When you enter the US, you can apply to change status from a nonimmigrant to an immigrant – in other words from a tourist or business visa to a Green Card.

The problem is something called “dual intent”. When you enter the United States with a B1/B2 visa i.e. a tourist visa, your stated intent on the visa application is to visit the US for a short period of time. Your intent shouldn’t be to live in the US. However, if on your entry to the US, you intend to change status to a permanent resident i.e. a Green Card holder, then you have “dual intent”. The visa you are entering doesn’t match your intentions. This is not allowed in the regulations. Many visas, including a tourist do not allow dual intent. A few exceptions, such as an L-1 visa, do exist, and switching to an immigrant track from these visas is not an issue.

Will USCIS allow you to change status from a tourist to a permanent resident? They might, provided you can provide evidence that you changed your mind during your stay in the US. In other words, you entered the US planning a short visit. After a while, you decided you wanted to stay and then you made a Green Card application. This means that when you entered, you didn’t have dual intent so you kept to the regulations.

If you are applying for a Green Card within the US, you need to file an adjustment of status application along with your regular Green Card application . As part of your adjustment application, you can apply for permission to work and permission to travel. This means that even before your Green Card is approved, you will be able to work and travel, just like a Green Card holder.

At the end of the process, you may be subject to an interview or your interview may be waived. If your interview is waived, that means that your Green Card was approved on the basis of your application alone. The officer doesn’t see the need to call you in for interview and your Green Card will be sent in the mail.

If you are in the US and considering changing status, it is a good idea to consult with a US immigration lawyer who will be able to check your eligibility. They will also be able to handle the full process for you to make sure that the application is submitted correctly.

If you are now outside the US, you can consult with a US immigration lawyer to start your Green Card process from abroad. At Decker, Pex, Levi, Rosenberg we handle Green Card cases both when applying in the US and abroad. Call us today to make your initial consultation: 03-374-4722.

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