The best rule of thumb regarding travel during the pendency of your green card case is not to do so. We have seen a number of individuals unknowingly sabotage their adjustment of status applications by traveling outside the US without taking the proper precautions. The concept is this: when an adjustment of status application is filed with USCIS, the individual is applying to convert his/her status to that of a permanent resident inside the United States. With a few limited exceptions, any trip taken outside the US while the adjustment is pending is normally construed as abandonment of the application. Therefore, it is extremely important that if you have an I-485 pending with USCIS, you remain in the US. Any departure may result in not only a denial of the adjustment application but also potentially obstruct readmission. Worse, a departure may trigger an unlawful presence bar (either three or ten years, depending on the length of time an individual has been unlawfully present) and prevent the individual from re-entering.
A District Court out of Minnesota recently issued a significant decision regarding the eligibility of those who hold Temporary Protected Status ("TPS") to adjust status in the US notwithstanding a prior lack of entry. This case, Bonilla vs. Johnson, et. al, follows the logic of a similar Circuit case (Flores v. USCIS) that holds that the plain language of 8 USC 1254a(f)(4) clearly allows an individual who is granted TPS to satisfy the inspection and entry requirement for adjustment of status. The section says, in part: "for purposes of adjustment of status under section 1255 of this title and change of status under section 1258 of this title, the alien shall be considered as being in, and maintaining, lawful status as a nonimmigrant." The government argued, unsuccessfully, that a grant of TPS did not constitute inspection and entry for purposes of adjustment. The Court held otherwise, noting that the statute was clear and unambiguous.
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The Department of State recently released the instructions for the 2016 Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, also known as the "diversity lottery." Instructions can be found here.
For individuals seeking to pursue permanent residence in the United States, the eligibility requirements of Section 245a of the Immigration and Nationality Act ("INA") must normally be satisfied. While Immediate Relatives of United States Citizens generally enjoy broader protection than most other types of applicants, any irregularity or defect could potentially complicate and possibly disqualify an individual from adjustment of status. Typical problems include but are not limited to: