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Can I Apply for a Green Card if I Enter the U.S. on a Tourist Visa?

Can I Apply for a Green Card if I Enter the U.S. on a Tourist Visa?

PUBLISHED ON: February 21

As a tourist, you are visiting the United States on a temporary basis. The U.S. is a great tourist destination, and there are many places to see and things to do. When you are visiting from another country, you are allowed to stay for a short time on a tourist visa. But what happens when you decide that you would like to stay in the U.S.? You may have the option to apply for a green card, but only if you meet the requirements. An experienced Illinois immigration attorney will help you determine whether you meet the criteria and will assist you with the process. 

Adjustment of Status

In order to apply for a green card when you already have a tourist visa, you will need to adjust your status. An adjustment of status is a process in which you must submit a petition to ask for a change in the type of visa that you have. The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) is legislation that allows someone with a visitor visa to apply for an adjustment of status as long as they meet the criteria for lawful permanent resident status. The applicant must also meet conditions as set forth in the INA. 

Conditions That You Must Meet

You must meet specific conditions as detailed in the INA, section 245 (a). You must be in the United States legally. This means that you cannot allow your visa to expire. You must be present in the United States. You must file a petition with the USCIS to change your status. You must also meet all current eligibility requirements for a green card. You should be careful not to allow your visitor visa to expire before you file for an adjustment. If your visa lapses, you may no longer have the legal authority to remain in the United States. 

Reasons You May Be Able to Apply for a Green Card

If you are in the U.S. on a visitor or tourist visa, it expires within a period of time. One reason why you may now be eligible to adjust your status is if you get married to a U.S. citizen. The spouse of a U.S. citizen can apply for an adjustment of status to seek legal permanent residency. Another common reason why you might be eligible to adjust your status is if an employer offers you a job and is willing to sponsor your petition. 

There are several other reasons why you might be eligible for a green card. If you have a qualifying relative to sponsor your petition, you may be able to apply for a green card. If you have an extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletic segments, you could qualify to petition for a green card. A researcher, professor, manager, or executive may be eligible to obtain a green card if they meet specific criteria. A physician who agrees to work in a clinical practice in specific segments of the population may be able to seek a green card. 

Some investors, as well as some religious workers, may also meet the criteria necessary to file for permanent residency in the United States. A refugee seeking asylum from a specific location and someone who is the victim of abuse may be eligible to apply for a green card.  

Adjustment of status can be complex, and it is often best to discuss your options with an experienced Illinois immigration attorney. Contact us today at Sverdloff Law Group at (312) 238-9090 for the legal assistance you need with the immigration process.

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