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US immigration: Can temporary visitors apply for green cards?

Many British Columbia residents spend time in the United States as temporary visitors or students. Students might want to remain in the United States and establish careers, or a visitor might fall in love, find a job or have another reason for wanting to change his or her nonimmigrant status to permanent resident status. Fortunately, the U.S. immigration laws have a process called adjustment of status that will provide successful applicants with a green card or immigrant visa.

Eligibility requirements that an AOS applicant must meet include the need for the applicant to be present in the United States at the time of applying, and throughout the process. He or she must have lawfully entered the country with the necessary valid documents presented to a U.S. immigration officer. Even if the application is made after the expiration of a visa, the applicant would be eligible for AOS because the initial entry was lawful.

The third requirement applies to family preference applicants. Such applications require an approved petition for alien relative (Form I-130) along with a visa number. An exception exists for immediate family members of U.S. citizens. In such cases, the I-130 petition and the AOS application can be filed simultaneously.

British Columbia residents might have questions about obtaining a green card or permanent residence status across the border. An experienced U.S. immigration lawyer who is registered on both sides of the border can provide valuable guidance. Legal counsel can explain the requirements for eligibility and assist with the preparation of the necessary documentation to ensure a smooth process.