To get a green card, most people apply through one of two methods—adjustment of status or consular processing. Which one is best for your situation? An immigration lawyer can review your circumstances to help you choose the right option, but here are some general guidelines.
How Adjustment of Status Works
To file for adjustment of status, an applicant files form I-485 with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Very often this form and supporting documentation may be filed at the same time that the sponsor files the petition for immigration with USCIS. When both are filed at the same time, the agency refers to the process as “concurrent filing.”
Adjustment of status can only be filed if the applicant is currently living in the U.S. with a valid visa.
How Consular Processing Works
Consular processing involves applications handled through the U.S. State Department and the local embassy or consulate where the immigrant is living. Before you can file an application through consular processing, USCIS must have approved the petition for immigration and an immigration visa must be available. Concurrent filing is not an option.
If you are applying for a visa in a category with a long wait time, considerable time may pass between the filing of your immigration petition and the time when your materials are forwarded to the National Visa Center at the State Department. Once they have your petition, they will send out the visa application. Then you would come to the embassy or consulate to provide biometric information and undergo an interview.
Which Process Works Best?
In many cases, applicants already in the U.S. proceed through adjustment of status and those living abroad work through consular processing. However, in some cases, it makes sense for an applicant to relocate so that they become eligible for the other process. For instance, an applicant living in the U.S. on a visa that will soon expire may choose to leave and apply through consular processing abroad so that they do not violate the terms of their visa.
Processing time may also play a role in the decision. Sometimes the wait times for consular processing are less than those through adjustment of status. The type of visas involved are also critical in the decision-making process. It may be possible to apply for a temporary visa while waiting for your permanent immigration visa. For example, you might be able to use a K-3 visa to remain in the U.S. if you qualify for a visa as the spouse of the U.S. citizen.
An Experienced Immigration Lawyer Can Help You Choose the Best Green Card Process for Your Situation
Because so much is at stake when you’re applying for a green card, it makes sense to seek legal advice to be certain that you are taking advantage of the best available opportunities and avoiding mistakes that could hurt your chances of success. At American Dream™ Law Office, we work tirelessly to help our clients find the best path to make their dreams a reality. To talk to one of our experienced immigration attorneys about the right green card process for your situation, contact us now.