Unlocking Opportunities: Using U Status for Family-Based Adjustment of Status

Iris was one of our very first U status cases, all the way back in 2013. She had some issues with her case, but finally, in February 2018, she was granted full U status. A year later, she called us with the amazing news that she had fallen in love and gotten married, and that her husband was a US citizen. She wanted to know what came next on her immigration journey.

U-Based vs. Marriage-Based Adjustment

When someone is granted U status, generally they have to wait three years before applying for their green card. However, if someone is married to a US citizen, they may be eligible to file for a marriage-based green card, which doesn’t have any time restrictions. Iris wanted to know if she could file with her husband now instead of waiting another two years for her U-based green card.

Lawful Entry Hurdles

However, Iris had entered the U.S. without permission, and, typically, the applicant must have a lawful entry to apply for a green card. So the question was: did the U approval count as a lawful entry or admission to the United States, even though Iris never left the country?

After some research, I found the answer! In 2017, the Board of Immigration Appeals held that the U grant is considered an admission to the United States.  Alejandro Garnica Silva, A098 269 615 (BIA June 29, 2017). This meant that Iris had a legal admission to the United States and, that with her marriage to a U.S. citizen, she could go ahead and file her I-130 and I-485 with him. 

This was a great solution for Iris because it allowed her green card to be processed a full two years faster than otherwise. However, some people have more colorful backgrounds and need to wait the full three years before applying for a green card based on a U approval. When Iris filed her adjustment of status package, she had an otherwise clean record and didn’t need any waivers of forgiveness. However, some U clients don’t have as clean of a record and need to file based on the U since the U regulations are much more forgiving. 

Considering Costs

Although not an issue in 2019, filing fees are also something to consider when thinking about adjusting through U status vs. a family-based petition. Under the Fee Rule that takes effect on April 1, 2024, a U-based adjustment of status case is fee-exempt—no filing fees. But, a marriage-based adjustment of status (just the I-485) will cost $1140. 

Considering U-Based Family Adjustment

If you have U status and are married to a US citizen or are the parent of a U.S. citizen at least 21 years old, it’s worth looking to possibly adjusting status before the full three years of U status. We would be happy to walk you through the process!

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