Chapter 8 - Inapplicability of Bars to Adjustment

Some or all of the INA 245(c) adjustment bars do not apply to certain categories of adjustment applicants. When adjudicating an adjustment application, an officer should carefully consider which bars apply. 

A. VAWA Self-Petitioners and Beneficiaries

All bars to adjustment do not apply to a battered or abused spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen or a battered or abused spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident with an approved Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) self-petition. [1] 

B. Immediate Relatives

Certain adjustment bars do not apply to an immediate relative, including the spouse or child (unmarried and under 21 years old) of a U.S. citizen, and the parent of a U.S. citizen older than 21. [2] 

An adjustment applicant applying as an immediate relative may be eligible to adjust status even if: 

  • The applicant is now employed or has ever been employed in the United States without authorization; 

  • The applicant is not in lawful immigration status on the date he or she files the adjustment application; 

  • The applicant has ever failed to continuously maintain a lawful status since entry into the United States; 

  • The applicant was last admitted to Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) as a visitor under the Guam or CNMI Visa Waiver Program and is not a Canadian citizen; 

  • The applicant was last admitted to the United States as a nonimmigrant visitor without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program; or 

  • The applicant has ever violated the terms of his or her nonimmigrant status. 

C. Certain Special Immigrants

Some adjustment bars to not apply to certain special immigrants (employment-based fourth preference category), depending on program-specific requirements. Specific information about some of these special immigrants and the adjustment bars that apply to them is provided below. 

1. Religious Workers [3]

An adjustment applicant may be eligible to adjust status based on an approved religious worker petition even if: 

  • The applicant is now employed or has ever been employed in the United States without authorization; 

  • The applicant is not maintaining a lawful nonimmigrant status on the date he or she files the adjustment application; 

  • The applicant has ever failed to continuously maintain a lawful status since entry into the United State; or

  • The applicant has ever violated the terms of his or her nonimmigrant status. 

2. Special Immigrant Juveniles [4]

The only adjustment bar that applies to a special immigrant juvenile adjustment applicant is the bar for being deportable due to involvement in a terrorist activity or group. [5] There is no exemption if this bar applies. 

3. Afghanistan and Iraq Nationals [6]

This immigrant visa category generally includes: 

  • Special immigrant Afghanistan or Iraq national who worked with the U.S. armed forces as a translator; 

  • Special immigrant Iraq national who was employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government; and 

  • Special immigrant Afghanistan national who was employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government or in the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. 

An adjustment applicant applying as a special immigrant Afghanistan or Iraq national may be eligible to adjust status even if:

  • The applicant is now employed or has ever been employed in the United States without authorization; 

  • The applicant is not in lawful immigration status on the date he or she files the adjustment application;

  • The applicant has ever failed to continuously maintain a lawful status since entry into the United States; 

  • The applicant is not maintaining a lawful nonimmigrant status on the date he or she files the adjustment application; or

  • The applicant has ever violated the terms of his or her nonimmigrant status. 

4. G-4 International Organization Employees, NATO-6 Employees, and Their Family Members

This immigrant visa category generally includes: ​

  • Retired officer or employee of an international organization or a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) (and derivative spouse);

  • ​Surviving spouse of a deceased officer or employee of an international organization or NATO; and

  • ​Unmarried son or daughter of a current or retired officer or employee of an international organization or NATO. 

An adjustment applicant applying as a NATO-6 employee or family member is ineligible for adjustment of status if any of the bars to adjustment of status apply. However, certain adjustment bars do not apply to G-4 international organization employees and family members. [7] A G-4 international organization employee or family member may be eligible to adjust status even if:

  • The applicant is now employed or has ever been employed in the United States without authorization; 

  • The applicant is not in lawful immigration status on the date he or she files the adjustment application; 

  • The applicant has ever failed to continuously maintain a lawful status since entry into the United States; or 

  • The applicant has ever violated the terms of his or her nonimmigrant visa. 

If a G-4 special immigrant falls under any other adjustment bar, however, he or she is not eligible to adjust status. 

More information on the adjustment bar applicability and exemptions available to special immigrants is provided in the program-specific parts of this Volume.

D. Applicants Eligible to Adjust under INA 245(i)

An applicant who is ineligible to adjust status under INA 245(a) or is barred from adjusting by INA 245(c) may be eligible to adjust status under INA 245(i)

E. Employment-Based Exemption under INA 245(k)

INA 245(k) provides certain employment-based adjustment applicants with an exemption from the INA 245(c)(2)INA 245(c)(7), and INA 245(c)(8) adjustment bars. 

This exemption applies to an alien who has not failed to maintain a lawful status, engaged in unauthorized employment, or violated the terms and conditions of his or her admission for an aggregate period exceeding 180 days. When determining whether an applicant is eligible for the INA 245(k) exemption, USCIS only considers the time period following the applicant’s most recent lawful admission. Therefore, the exemption applies to:

  • An eligible applicant who fails to maintain a lawful status, engages in unauthorized employment, or violates the terms and conditions of his or her nonimmigrant visa following his or her most recent admission, as long as the aggregate period of the violations is 180 days or less;

  • An eligible applicant who does not commit any status, employment, or nonimmigrant visa violations following his or her most recent lawful admission but failed to maintain a lawful status, engaged in unauthorized employment, or violated the terms and conditions of his or her nonimmigrant visa following previous admissions or entries, regardless of the aggregate period of the violations; and

  • An eligible applicant who has committed status, nonimmigrant visa, and employment violations following his or her previous admissions or entries and his or her most recent lawful admission, as long as the aggregate period of the violations following the most recent lawful admission is 180 days or less. The 180-day period can range from 0 days for no violations to a maximum of 180 days for multiple violations following the alien’s most recent admission.

The table below summarizes the effect of certain immigration violations on eligibility for the exemption.

Certain Immigration Violations Committed During Various Time Periods in the United States and Their Effect on Eligibility for INA 245(k) Exemption

Following Most Recent

Following Previous Admissions or Entries

Eligible for

Exemption?

Commits status, employment, or nonimmigrant visa violations not exceeding 180 days

Does not commit any status, employment, or nonimmigrant visa violations

OR

Commits status, employment, or nonimmigrant visa violations, regardless of whether exceeds 180 days

Yes

Commits status, employment, or nonimmigrant visa violations exceeding 180 days

Does not commit any status, employment, or nonimmigrant visa violations

OR

Commits status, employment, or nonimmigrant visa violations, regardless of whether exceeds 180 days

No

Does not commit any status, employment, or nonimmigrant visa violations

Commits status, employment, or nonimmigrant visa violations, regardless of whether exceeds 180 days

Yes

1. General Eligibility

An adjustment applicant must meet the following requirements to be eligible for the INA 245(k) exemption:

  • The applicant must be eligible to adjust based on certain employment-based immigrant categories;

  • ​The applicant must be physically present in the United States on the date he or she files the adjustment application pursuant to a lawful admission; and

  • ​The applicant must not have committed certain immigration violations for more than 180 days in the aggregate following that last lawful admission.

2. Employment-Based Applicants

An adjustment applicant seeking the INA 245(k) exemption must be the beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition in one of the following employment-based categories: 

  • Aliens of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational managers and executives (first preference, EB-1); 

  • ​Aliens who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or aliens of exceptional ability(second preference, EB-2); 

  • ​Skilled workers, professionals, and other workers (third preference, EB-3); or 

  • ​Religious workers. [8] 

Eligible dependents of principal applicants described above may also benefit from the exemption in their own right if they meet the exemption requirements.

3. Violations Totaling More Than 180 Days

To be eligible for the exemption, an adjustment applicant must not have committed any of the following immigration violations for more than an aggregate of 180 days since the applicant’s most recent lawful admission:

  • ​Failed to continuously maintain a lawful immigration status;

  • Engaged in unauthorized employment; or

  • Violated the terms of the applicant’s nonimmigrant status. 

Count Only Violations After Most Recent Lawful Admission 

When determining whether an applicant is eligible for the exemption, the law counts only status violations and unauthorized employment since the applicant’s most recent lawful admission. Any such violations the applicant committed during previous periods of stay in the United States are not counted. [9] 

Therefore, regardless of how many days of immigration violations described in INA 245(c)(2)INA 245(c)(7), or INA 245(c)(8) an alien commits, if he or she leaves and is readmitted lawfully (and is an eligible employment-based adjustment applicant), the alien may qualify for an the exemption if the alien’s violations do not total more than 180 days in the aggregate since that most recent lawful admission.

Example: Effect of Immigration Violations Committed ​During Previous Period of Stay

Date

Event

January 1, 2015

An alien is admitted as an F-1 nonimmigrant student authorized to attend a university full-time.

March 1, 2015

The alien stops attending the university.

December 1, 2015

The alien departs the United States.

January 1, 2016

The alien is admitted for one year as a B-2 nonimmigrant visitor.

June 1, 2016

The alien files an adjustment application with an employer’s immigrant petition seeking EB-2 classification for the alien.

In this example, the alien violated her nonimmigrant status when she stopped attending the university. This violation resulted in the alien’s failure to maintain lawful status from March 1 through November 30, a total of 275 days of immigration violations. When the alien applies for adjustment on June 1, 2016, however, she has committed no immigration violations since her most recent lawful admission. 

Because the alien is an employment-based adjustment applicant and since her last lawful admission she has not exceeded the 180-day limit on immigration violations imposed by INA 245(k), the alien qualifies for the exemption. Therefore, the alien is exempted from the INA 245(c)(2) and INA 245(c)(8) bars that would otherwise have made her ineligible for adjustment. The 275 days of violations the alien committed during her prior stay in the United States are irrelevant and do not bar her from adjustment. 

Effect of Parole

An adjustment applicant who entered the United States on parole is not “lawfully admitted” because parole is not an admission.[10] Therefore, entry or reentry based on parole does not restart the clock for purposes of calculating status or work violations under the exemption. 

For example, an alien who was lawfully admitted, worked without authorization for one year, and then departed and returned on parole does not qualify for the exemption. Because the parole is not an admission, the alien’s unauthorized employment still counts since it occurred following his last lawful admission. The one year of unauthorized employment exceeds the 180-day limit, making the alien ineligible for the exemption and therefore barred from adjustment by INA 245(c)(2)and INA 245(c)(8) based on the unauthorized employment.

4. Calculating Period of Violations

If an applicant has committed a status or employment violation following his or her most recent lawful admission, the phrase “aggregate period not exceeding 180 days” means the total of all types of violations taken together. The 180-day period is not counted separately for each type of violation, but altogether. 

The officer should count each day in which one or more of these violations existed as one day. Any day in which more than one violation occurred should not be double-counted. Accordingly, an officer should add together any and all days in which there is one or more of the violations to determine if the violations, as a whole, exceed the 180-day limit. 

Failed to Maintain Lawful Status or Violated Terms of Nonimmigrant Status

In most cases, the counting of days against the 180-day limit begins on the earliest of the following:

  • The day the alien’s immigration status expired; 

  • ​The day the alien’s immigration status was revoked or rescinded; or 

  • ​The day the alien violated his or her immigration status.

The counting of days out of status usually stops on the earliest of the following:

  • The day the alien properly files an adjustment application; 

  • ​The day the alien obtains lawful immigration status; or

  • ​The day the alien departs the United States.

For example, if an alien enters the United States as a nonimmigrant and continues to stay in the United States after such nonimmigrant status expires, the alien has failed to continuously maintain a lawful status at the point the status expires. If the alien later acquires a new lawful status, for instance, temporary protected status, then the alien is no longer failing to maintain a lawful status. The time period between the two lawful statuses is counted towards the 180-day limit in determining if the alien is eligible for the exemption.

Unauthorized Employment

USCIS calculates the number of days an applicant engaged in unauthorized employment beginning on the first day of such employment and continuing until the earliest of the following:

  • The day the applicant ceases the unauthorized employment;

  • ​The day USCIS approves the applicant’s employment authorization document (EAD); [11] or

  • ​The day USCIS approves the applicant’s adjustment application. 

The filing of an adjustment application does not authorize employment or excuse unauthorized employment. As such, the adjustment filing does not stop the counting of days of unauthorized employment. [12] 

USCIS counts each day an applicant engaged in unauthorized employment against the 180-day limit, regardless of whether the applicant unlawfully worked only a few hours on a given day, worked a part-time schedule, or worked a full-time schedule with leave benefits and weekends and holidays off. Absent evidence of interruptions in unauthorized employment, USCIS considers each day since the date the unauthorized employment began as a day of unauthorized work regardless of the applicant’s work schedule. 

For example, if an applicant worked without authorization for four hours a day, Monday through Friday, throughout the month of April, all 30 days for that month must be counted as unauthorized employment. 

For periods in which it appears that the applicant has engaged in unauthorized employment, the applicant bears the burden of establishing that work was authorized or that he or she did not in fact engage in unauthorized employment. Evidence of termination or interruption of unauthorized employment may include a letter of termination or other documentation from the applicant’s employer. 

In addition, an applicant who works without authorization after filing an adjustment application does not stop the counting of time by departing the United States and re-entering on parole.

Special Considerations

The following situations do not count toward the 180-day limit: 

  • Any violations that occurred prior to the applicant’s last lawful admission;

  • Any time period for which the applicant had USCIS authorization to engage in employment; [13] 

  • Any time period when the applicant had a pending application for extension of nonimmigrant status or change of nonimmigrant status, if USCIS ultimately approved the application; 

  • Any time period of unlawful status that USCIS determines was the result of a “technical violation” or through no fault of the applicant; [14] 

  • Any time period before or after completion of a nonimmigrant student’s educational objective or a nonimmigrant exchange visitor’s program as authorized by regulation, [15] if the nonimmigrant did not violate the terms and conditions of the status; and 

  • Any time period in violation of nonimmigrant student or exchange visitor status if the status was later reinstated, but only for the time covered by the reinstatement. [16] 

Example: Effect of Unauthorized Employment on Eligibility for INA 245(k) Exemption

Date

Event

January 1, 2010

An alien is admitted as a B-2 nonimmigrant visitor for pleasure. 

June 1, 2010

The B-2 nonimmigrant begins work for an employer on a one-month contract, without first obtaining work authorization.

July 1, 2010

The B-2 nonimmigrant’s contract with the employer ends.

September 1, 2010

The B-2 nonimmigrant submits an adjustment application with the employer’s immigrant petition seeking EB-3 classification for the B-2 nonimmigrant.

February 28, 2011

The B-2 nonimmigrant’s authorized stay expires, as indicated on the Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94). 

In this example, the alien’s work results in three separate immigration violations: The alien engaged in unauthorized employment, violated the terms and conditions of his nonimmigrant admission, and failed to continuously maintain a lawful status. Since these three violations occur on the same days, they are only counted once. Therefore, these immigration violations add up to 30 days, counting from June 1 through June 30. 

Once the alien began to work without authorization on June 1, he stopped maintaining a lawful status. The failure to continuously maintain a lawful status continues until the alien files a properly filed adjustment application on September 1, totaling 92 days without lawful status. Because the time period from June 1 through June 30 was already counted for the three violations above, the failure to continuously maintain lawful status only adds 62 days, counting from July 1 through August 31.

If USCIS approves the alien’s petition for EB-3 immigrant visa classification, he is eligible for the INA 245(k) exemption. The alien’s immigration violations total 92 days and therefore do not exceed the 180-day limit. The alien meets the eligibility requirements for the exemption and is not barred from adjustment by INA 245(c)(2)INA 245(c)(7), or INA 245(c)(8) bars, which would otherwise apply.

Example: Effect of Immigration Violations on INA 245(k) Exemption Eligibility where Violations Occurred During Different Periods of Stay

Date

Event

December 1, 2007

An alien is admitted to the United States as a B-2 nonimmigrant.

June 1, 2008

The alien’s B-2 nonimmigrant status expires, as evidenced by the Arrival/Departure Record.

September 10, 2008

The alien leaves the United States.

January 1, 2009

An employer files an H-1B petition for the alien.

February 1, 2009

The alien is admitted as an H-1B nonimmigrant for three years. 

January 31, 2012

The H-1B’s nonimmigrant authorized stay expires, as indicated on the Arrival/Departure Record (Form I-94).

May 1, 2012

An employment-based petition and adjustment application are concurrently filed for the alien.

July 15, 2012

Both the petition and the application are approved and the alien is adjusted to a permanent resident.

In this example, the alien’s initial period of admission as a B-2 nonimmigrant visitor expired more than three months prior to the initial departure. During the subsequent admission, the alien filed for adjustment three months after H-1B status terminated. 

The time spent out of status during the alien’s first admission as a B-2 nonimmigrant was not calculated because the time spent out of status or in violation of status prior to the nonimmigrant’s last admission is not considered for INA 245(k) purposes. Since the alien is an employment-based adjustment applicant and his three-month violation following his last lawful admission did not exceed 180 days, the alien is exempted from the INA 245(c)(2) bar. 

5. Evidence to Consider

An alien seeking the INA 245(k) exemption must properly file an adjustment application as specified in the form instructions, but he or she is not required to submit any additional forms or fees. If an officer determines that an INA 245(c)(2)INA 245(c)(7), or INA 245(c)(8) bar applies in a particular case, the officer should use the following evidence submitted in support of the adjustment application to analyze the alien’s eligibility for the exemption: 

  • Copies of all Arrival/Departure Records (Forms I-94) showing authorized admission into the United States;

  • ​Copies of the biographic pages of any passports containing nonimmigrant visas along with the passport pages containing the visas; 

  • ​Copies of any passport pages showing recorded travel into or out of the United States, such as admission stamps;

  • ​Copies of any documentation showing all places of residence dating back at least five years from the date of filing for adjustment and showing all periods of employment; and

  • Receipt or Approval Notices (Forms I-797) for any immigration benefit, including nonimmigrant status, changes of nonimmigrant status or extensions of stay, and employment authorization. 

If the evidence of record is insufficient to determine the applicant’s eligibility for the exemption, an officer should first attempt to obtain any missing information using authorized USCIS-approved databases. An officer also may issue a Request for Evidence or Notice of Intent to Deny.

6. Effect of Exemption

An applicant who qualifies under INA 245(k) is exempt from the INA 245(c)(2)INA 245(c)(7), and INA 245(c)(8) adjustment bars. This does not, however, exempt an applicant from any other bar, eligibility requirement, or ground of inadmissibility. [17] Therefore, once an officer determines that the applicant qualifies for the exemption, the officer must next determine whether the applicant is otherwise eligible for adjustment.

Footnotes


1. [^] See INA 245(c). See Chapter 2, Eligibility Requirements, Section F, Bars to Adjustment of Status [7 USCIS-PM B.2(F)].

2. [^] See INA 201(b)(2)(A). Immediate relatives of a U.S. citizen include the U.S. citizen’s spouse, children (unmarried and under 21 years of age), and parents (if the U.S. citizen is 21 years of age or older). Widow(er)s of U.S. citizens and aliens admitted to the United States as a fiancé(e) or child of a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen may also be considered immediate relatives if they meet certain conditions. See INA 245(c)(2),INA 245(c)(4), and INA 245(c)(8). See Chapter 2, Eligibility Requirements, Section F, Bars to Adjustment of Status [7 USCIS-PM B.2(F)].

3. [^] See INA 101(a)(27)(C) and INA 245(k). For more information, see Section E, Employment-Based Exemption under INA 245(k) [7 USCIS-PM B.8(E)].

4. [^] See INA 101(a)(27)(J) and INA 245(c)

5. [^] See INA 245(c)(6). Special immigrant juveniles are excluded from applicability of INA 245(c)(2) and, as previously mentioned, by applying traditional concepts of statutory construction, USCIS interprets the exclusion from INA 245(c)(2) to apply to INA 245(c)(8). as well. See 62 FR 39417 (PDF), 39422 (July 23, 1997) and 8 CFR 245.1(b)(5)8 CFR 245.1(b)(6), and 8 CFR 245.1(b)(10)INA 245(c)(7) also does not apply. See 8 CFR 245.1(b)(9). See Chapter 5, Employment-Based Applicant Not in Lawful Nonimmigrant Status – INA 245(c)(7) [7 USCIS-PM B.5]. Finally, INA 245(c)(1)INA 245(c)(3)INA 245(c)(4), and INA 245(c)(5) also do not apply since a special immigrant juvenile is considered to be paroled into the United States and when reviewing these bars, USCIS focuses on the most recent admission. See INA 245(h)(1). See 8 CFR 245.1(a) and 8 CFR 245.1(e)(3).

6. [^] For information about Afghan and Iraq translators, see Section 1059 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2006, Pub. L. 109-163 (PDF), 119 Stat. 3136, 3443 (January 6, 2006), as amended by Pub. L. 110-36 (PDF) (June 15, 2007). For information about Iraq nationals employed by or on behalf of the U.S. Government, see Section 1244 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008, Pub. L. 110-181 (PDF), 122 Stat. 3, 396 (January 28, 2008), as amended by Pub. L. 110-242 (PDF) (June 3, 2008) and Section 602(b)(9) of the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, Title VI of Pub. L. 111-8 (PDF), 123 Stat. 524, 809 (March 11, 2009). For information about Afghan nationals employed by, or on behalf of, the U.S. Government, see Section 602(b) of the Afghan Allies Protection Act of 2009, Title VI of Pub. L. 111-8 (PDF), 123 Stat. 524, 807 (March 11, 2009).

7. [^] See INA 245(c)(2) and INA 245(c)(8). See 8 CFR 245.1(b).

8. [^] Described in INA 101(a)(27)(C). Other than religious workers, employment-based fourth preference (EB-4) applicants are not eligible for the INA 245(k) exemption.

9. [^] Although these specified violations committed during previous periods of U.S. stay are not relevant for purposes of eligibility for the INA 245(k) exemption, there may still be adverse immigration consequences for these violations. See INA 212(a)(9)(B)-(C) and INA 222(g). For example, if an alien accumulates more than 180 days of unlawful presence in the United States and subsequently departs, he or she may be inadmissible to the United States for three years or more after such departure, unless a waiver is granted or the alien is exempt. INA 222(g) also provides that an alien’s nonimmigrant visa is automatically void if the alien remains in the United States beyond the authorized period of stay.

10. [^] See INA 101(a)(13)(B) and INA 212(d)(5)(A).

11. [^] Applicants for adjustment who have no other authorization to work and wish to work based on the pending application must first file an Application for Employment Authorization (Form I-765) and wait until it is approved before beginning work.

12. [^] Therefore, it is possible for an applicant to accrue days of unauthorized employment against the 180-day limit after filing an adjustment application. 

13. [^] However, any unlawful employment that continues or begins after the applicant applies for adjustment is counted toward the 180-day period until USCIS approves work authorization. 

14. [^] See 8 CFR 245.1(d)(2).

15. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(f) and 8 CFR 214.2(j).

16. [^] See 8 CFR 214.2(f). See 22 CFR 62.45.

17. [^] For example, it would not exempt the applicant from an eligibility requirement such as the requirement that an applicant must have been inspected and admitted or inspected and paroled.

INA 245(a) - Adjustment of status

INA 245(c) - Bars to adjustment of status

INA 245(i), 8 CFR 245.10 - Adjustment of status of certain aliens physically present in the United States

INA 245(k) - Inapplicability of certain provisions for certain employment-based immigrants

Appendices


No appendices available at this time.

Technical Update - Replacing the Term “Foreign National”

October 08, 2019

This technical update replaces all instances of the term “foreign national” with “alien” throughout the Policy Manual as used to refer to a person who meets the definition provided in INA 101(a)(3) [“any person not a citizen or national of the United States”].

AFFECTED SECTIONS

 

POLICY ALERT - Use of Form G-325A

October 25, 2018

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is updating policy guidance in the USCIS Policy Manual to remove references to Biographic Information (Form G-325A).

AFFECTED SECTIONS

 

POLICY ALERT - Adjustment of Status Policies and Procedures and 245(a) Adjustment

February 25, 2016

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is issuing policy guidance addressing the general policies and procedures of adjustment of status as well as adjustment under section 245(a) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).

AFFECTED SECTIONS

 
Current as of

CHAPTERS

Current as of