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May 25,2021

Adjustment of Status Vs. Consular Processing [Family-Based Petitioner]

If you are seeking a green card and lawful permanent resident status in the United States, there are two main courses of action you can take – adjustment of status or consular processing. To know which path is right for you and for help with the process, contact a California immigration lawyer directly.

Overview of Each Process

Different individuals can qualify for a green card, which allows immigrants to live and work in the United States indefinitely and provides other important benefits. If you are already in the United States on a temporary visa (such as a tourist or student visa), you may have the option of applying for an adjustment of status to permanent resident directly with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If you are lawfully present in the U.S. and/or meet other criteria, USCIS can adjust your status and issue you a green card directly.

If you are not in the U.S. on a nonimmigrant visa, or meet other specific exceptions in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), you must seek your green card through the U.S. consulate in a foreign country before you enter. You must establish your eligibility for a green card and, in most cases, wait until your green card is approved and you receive your Visa Packet before you enter the United States.

Comparing the Two Methods

There is no one-size-fits-all immigration solution for everyone who wants to obtain a green card, and an attorney will need to review your circumstances before advising whether you should seek an adjustment of status from within the U.S. or consular processing in a foreign country. The following are some considerations:

  • Adjustment of status requires a visa to be immediately available, so it is most often used by immediate family members of U.S. citizens. People in the family preference category would not qualify for adjustment of status if their visa category is not “current” throughout their immigration process.
  • Consular processing often takes anywhere from five to 12 months, while adjustment of status processing time can be slightly longer at eight to 14 months. The time comparisons vary depending on whether the Petition establishing the relationship between the Petitioner and Beneficiary has already been approved.
  • Both processes require a qualified family member in the United States to sponsor the applicant.
  • The government processing fees associated with consular processing might be a few hundred dollars less than adjustment of status.
  • It can be difficult for those waiting for consular processing to visit their relatives in the U.S., whereas there is a process to request authorization, if certain criteria are met, to visit foreign countries while waiting for adjustment of status.

The processes are different, but the end result can be the same. Discuss how to best apply for your green card with an experienced lawyer today.

Get Advice from a California Immigration Attorney Now

When deciding whether to apply for a green card through consular processing or adjustment of status, it is not always easy to tell which one will be best, or even possible, for every individual. What will be best for you will be highly dependent on your specific circumstances. Contact us or call our office today here at Miranda, Magden & Miranda, LLP, to schedule a consultation with a Monterey immigration lawyer today that can evaluate your case.

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