What is an Adjustment of Status (AOS)?
An Adjustment of Status (AOS) is an application filed by an alien who is physically in the United States who wants to adjust his or her non-immigrant status to immigrant status, i.e. permanent resident status, without having to return to their home country. The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) permits this change of an individual’s immigration status, if the individual was inspected, admitted, or paroled into the United States and meet all of the required qualifications for a green card (permanent residence). In past cases of adjustment of status for employment-based immigration, the USCIS allowed an alien to file an I-485 adjustment of status application only after his or her immigration petition was approved.
However, effective July 31, 2002, the INS (now called the USCIS) published a new rule allowing the concurrent filing of an I-485, adjustment of status application with an I-140, immigration petition (typically, EB-1, and EB-2 petitions) if visa numbers are available to the beneficiaries at the time of filing.
An alien who is outside of the United States may not apply for an adjustment of status. Instead, these individuals must go through Consular Processing at a U.S. Consulate abroad. In another word, if the alien does not reside in the United States; he/she cannot apply for adjustment of status in the U.S. and must go through immigrant visa processing at a U.S. consulate abroad instead.
Applying for adjustment of status signifies that the alien has reached the final step in getting a Green Card. Once the application is approved, the alien gains permanent resident status in the United States. In addition, there are three major benefits to applying for an I-485: while an I-485 application is pending, an alien may simultaneously apply for 1) Advance Parole, and 2) an >EAD Work Permit and the alien has a legal stay in the U.S. and does not need to maintain their non-immigrant status.