Recently, MIA was contacted regarding adjusting status from a NATO nonimmigrant visa to permanent residency. Here are a few first steps that you can, and should, do on your own, before moving forward.
Check Your Visa Expiration
Step 1 for any NATO visaholder is to confirm that your visa will not expire before your adjustment can be approved. Look at the duration on your Arrival-Departure Record, Form I-94. Check the date in the lower right-hand corner of your Form I-94, Arrival-Departure Record, to determine the date your authorized stay expires. If your visa reads “D/S” (meaning, duration of stay is the same as tour of duty), note the length of your (or the officer’s) tour in the U.S., and its expected termination date. Failure to depart the U.S. will cause you to be out-of-status. When individuals retire, leave military (or civilian) service, or leave the employ of a Headquarters or Agency, they are no longer considered to be in the same (visa) status. If you possess a NATO class visa, you are required to leave the U.S. or apply for a change/adjustment of visa status within 30 days of your or your sponsor’s last day of duty. Staying beyond the period of time authorized by the Customs and Border Patrol and being in the U.S. is a violation of U.S. immigration laws, and may cause you to be ineligible for a visa in the future for return travel to the U.S.
Extend Your Stay
If your visa is expiring shortly, you may wish to extend your stay in the United States filing a request with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on the Form I-539 Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status before your authorized stay expires. If you remain in the United States longer than authorized, you may be barred from returning and/or you may be removed (deported) from the United States. We recommend that you apply to extend your stay at least 45 days before your authorized stay expires.
Qualifications to Extend or Adjust
As you may know, you may apply to extend your stay if: (a) you were lawfully admitted into the United States with a nonimmigrant visa, (b) your nonimmigrant visa status remains valid, (c) you have not committed any crimes that make you ineligible for a visa, (d) you have not violated the conditions of your admission, (e) your passport is valid and will remain valid for the duration of your stay.
The common term for a change to permanent status is “adjustment of status” (“change of status” is from one nonimmigrant category to another). Because the above qualifications apply to an adjustment of status to permanent resident, please let me know if you do not meet any of these qualifications.
Check the Form I-566 Instructions
Going forward, look at the instructions from a Form I-566, which would be part of an adjustment of status application. Look at page 3, section 4, relating to adjustment of status. Also see page 5, section 3. You will also need to fill out a Form I-485, Form I-94, Form I-508, and evidentiary documents.
Look at the Other Adjustment Forms
The Form I-485 is the adjustment of status application. I attach the I-485 instructions. As you can see, there are limited grounds upon which a person may apply for permanent residency. Please look through the “Who May Apply” section on page 1 of the instructions. Do you meet any of these bases? The basic bases are through family, a job, or as a refugee/asylee.
Consider the Seriousness of Adjustment
The I-508 is a waiver of rights. The form primarily advises you that you must waive certain diplomatic rights, privileges and immunities and pay U.S. income taxes on the salaries paid to you by your foreign governments. If you have looked over this information, are serous about adjusting your status, and believe that you have sufficient grounds to do so, then you may apply for an adjustment of status.
We always recommend thinking about an adjustment seriously, and discussing it with family and friends. If you are still serious about adjusting, find an immigration attorney to help you complete your applications correctly.
Best of luck!
Miami International Attorneys