Non-immigrants living in the U.S. can apply for permanent resident cards (green cards), without traveling back to their home countries, through a process called adjustment of status. However, prior to filing their applications, they need to confirm that they belong to categories that are eligible for green cards through this process.
All categories of non-immigrants for whom immigrant petitions have been filed cannot adjust their status to legal resident status while in the U.S. They need to be eligible for legal resident status and for green cards through this process. They must be sponsored by U.S. employers or their legal resident or U.S. citizen family members. If not, they must be asylees or refugees.
To adjust their status based on employer or family sponsorship, they need to prove that immigrant petitions, Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative or Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, filed on their behalf has been approved by USCIS. This does not apply to the husbands, wives, children and parents of U.S. citizens who can file the adjustment of status application Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with Form I-130.
K-1 fiancé(e) visa holders can get green cards through this process, if they have married the U.S. citizens who sponsored them for K-1 visas. Asylees and refugees can go through the adjustment of status process and get green cards, if they had lived in the U.S. as refugees or asylees for a year.
Beneficiaries of immigrant petitions who are abroad cannot apply for green cards through this process. They need to go through consular processing and get immigrant visas from overseas U.S. embassies or consulates. To file Form I-485 for adjustment of status, the applicant must be present in the U.S.
People who entered the U.S. as non-immigrant crewmen, under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) and in transit without visas, are ineligible for adjustment of status. However, people who entered into the U.S. on the VWP can apply for green cards through this process if they are immediate relatives (husbands, wives, parents and minor children) of U.S. citizens.
Non-immigrant visa holders who are beneficiaries of immigrant petitions cannot apply for adjustment of status if they fall out of status. Their non-immigrant status must be valid when they file Form I-485. Likewise, people who got into the country without visas or who overstayed their non-immigrant visas cannot apply for green cards through this process.