Adjustment of Status vs. Consular Processing

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If you’re thinking of pursuing work prospects in America, you likely have many questions about how to go about it. This article discusses two processes of obtaining a green card to become a lawful permanent resident through employment. Learn the pros and cons of consular processing vs. adjustment of status (AOS), including eligibility and processing times.

Consular Processing

You can use consular processing to apply for an American green card through your home country’s U.S. Department of State embassy. This pathway helps you petition for an employment-based immigrant visa that allows you to become a permanent U.S. resident.

You may qualify to apply for a green card through consular processing by having a petition filed on your behalf by an employer or family member. You must submit a recent medical exam, have an immigrant visa number and conduct an interview at your respective consulate.

Applicants without a lawful permanent resident/U.S. citizen relatives should fill out Form I-140 with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Upon approval, USCIS will notify the State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC), which will send you or your attorney a visa processing fee, usually within two months. Only when you’ve made the payment will NVC send you an instruction packet detailing a list of documents you must submit.

Pros of Consular Processing

Applicants can apply for a green card from their home country, potentially minimizing their waiting time.

Cons of Consular Processing

You can’t have an attorney during your interview. Additionally, even if you’ve lived in the U.S. on a short-term visa, you must travel back to your country to complete the application. Relocating can have financial implications.

Consular Processing Time

This largely depends on your eligibility for an employment-based green card or how busy the USCIS offices are. But if your case requires more evidence to warrant your green card, you could wait more than a year.

Adjustment of Status (AOS)

AOS is applicable for immigrants already living in the U.S. on a different visa and who want an employment-based green card that enables them to attain a lawful permanent status. Beneficiaries of the AOS family-based green card must file Form I-130 to prove they’re in the immediate relative or family preference categories.

At the time of filing Adjustment of Status Form I-485, applicants must:

  • Be living in America
  • Have lawfully entered the U.S.
  • Possess an immigrant visa (family preference applicants)

Pros of adjustment of status

Because an AOS application acts like a visa that allows you to remain in the U.S. until you get a green card, you can get an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to start working. Additionally, you’re allowed to have an attorney during your review interview. This works in your favor if your application is denied, as your lawyer can help you appeal.

Cons of adjustment of status

AOS is only available for immigrants already living in the U.S. Plus, processing fees are considerably higher than consular processing.

Adjustment of status processing time

After successfully filing form I-485, AOS family-based applications generally take 8 to 24 months for your green card to come through.

Preference: Consular Processing vs. AOS

Time-wise, consular processing has shorter processing periods, and it’s cheaper. Conversely, adjustment of status takes longer; however, you get to live and work in the U.S. as you wait for your green card decision.

Consult With an Immigration Lawyer Today

Sometimes an immigration decision may not favor you through no fault of your own; still, you have a chance to appeal. Due to the complexities of a legal briefing for an appeal or motion, consider the services of an experienced immigration lawyer in Georgia for assistance.

We can assist you with assembling, filing, and sending relevant supporting documents to the correct offices while helping you prepare for the interview process. Contact an immigration lawyer at Moffitt Law, LLC for legal representation and advice on consular processing and AOS matters.

Adjustment of Status vs. Consular Processing FAQs

Can I travel while my AOS application decision is pending?

Yes. Once you receive a travel permit called an Advance Parole Travel document, you can travel abroad while your adjustment of status application is still pending. To obtain the Advance Parole Travel document, you must fill and submit Form 1-131 and wait for approval.

Can I switch from consular processing to adjustment of status?

To switch to AOS, you may file an Application to Adjust Status (Form I-485) with USCIS, who will recall your Form I-130 immigrant petition from the NVC. To request consular processing, file an Application for Action on an Approved Petition (Form I-824). Transfers may add extra lag and expenses on top of the application timeframe.

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