Adjustment to Immigrant Status
Procedure allowing certain aliens already in the United States to apply for immigrant status. Aliens admitted to the United States in a nonimmigrant, refugee, or parolee category may have their status changed to that of lawful permanent resident if they are eligible to receive an immigrant visa and one is immediately available. In such cases, the alien is counted as an immigrant as of the date of adjustment, even though the alien may have been in the United States for an extended period of time. Beginning in October 1994, section 245(i) of the INA allowed illegal residents who were eligible for immigrant status to remain in the United States and adjust to permanent resident status by applying at a USCIS office and paying an additional penalty fee. Section 245(i) is no longer available unless the alien is the beneficiary of a petition under section 204 of the Act or of an application for a labor certification under section 212(a)(5)(A), filed on or before April 30, 2001. And, if filed after January 1, 1998, the alien must have been present in the United States on December 21, 2000. Prior to October 1994, most illegal residents were required to leave the United States and acquire a visa abroad from the Department of State as they are again now.
Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services