Becoming a permanent resident of the United States can be one of the most significant events in a person's life. In some cases, it allows people to further their professional goals; in other cases, it can allow family members to be together. There are also situations when an adjustment of status means that a person will not have to go back to a country where their lives and well-being could be in danger.
However, it can be a very complicated and lengthy process. For example, in order to become a permanent resident, a person will first need to apply and before that can happen, there needs to be a visa available. Determining whether a visa is available depends on a person's priority and category.
There are only a certain amount of visas that can be distributed every year and because there are typically more applicants than available visas, there needs to be a process for distributing visa numbers so that a person can apply for an adjustment of status.
The distribution process utilizes a waiting system which is organized by a person's priority date. It might be easier to think of it as a waiting line. Those who are deemed higher priority will be closer to the front of the line. Lower priority applicants will be toward the back of the line, which means their waiting period will be longer than those at the front of the line.
One a person's priority date arrives, he or she can apply for an available visa. Once this number is secured, a person can file the forms for an adjustment of status.
The immigration system in this country is enormous and slow-moving, and immigrants can find it extremely frustrating and confusing to try and navigate the process alone. Because of all the details that must be addressed and paperwork that must be filed, it can be easy for people to make mistakes. In order to avoid costly delays or denials, it can be advantageous to have the help of an attorney who is familiar with the process.