One of the ways that a foreign national can adjust status in the U.S. is if there is a visa immediately available to them, and they were inspected and admitted lawfully to the U.S. For example, if Jane enters the U.S. on a B-1/B-2 Visitor visa and was inspected and admitted into the U.S. by an officer, she can adjust status if she has a visa immediately available to her. Many believe that if one enters the U.S. as a crewman, or a C-1 visa, they are automatically disqualified from adjusting their status in the U.S. However, that is not necessarily true.
A person entering the U.S. to pursue employment aboard a vessel is defined as a crewman. These crewman usually are issued and enter the U.S. on a C-1 visa. However, they are not eligible to adjust their status in the U.S. even though they were inspected and admitted into the U.S. and have a visa immediately available to them. Rather, they would need to return to their native country and apply for an immigrant visa, or they may benefit from the provisional waiver program.
However, C-1 visas are also issued for people who are “in transit” to another international destination and merely have a layover in the U.S. These visas are marked specifically as a C-1 “in-transit.” These individuals are inspected and admitted into the U.S., usually for no more than 29 days. The significance of this type of visa is that if they have a visa immediately available to them, they are eligible to adjust their status in the U.S. without returning to their native country. Of course, there may be some issues of whether the individual had a “preconceived intent” to enter the U.S. in order to obtain lawful permanent resident status. In other words, the individual must prove that they did not have the intent to remain in the U.S. when they first entered. Otherwise, USCIS can deny their case as a matter of discretion.
There are many different ways to qualify to adjust status in the U.S. Lawful entry into the U.S. is just one of them, and even if you appear to be eligible, there could be other issues in your case. Therefore, it is very important that you speak to an experienced immigration attorney to discuss all potential options to obtain lawful status in the U.S.