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Adjustment of Status vs Consular Processing

Navigating the complexities of immigration law can be daunting, especially when faced with the pivotal decision between Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing. You may not apply for both consular processing and adjustment of status at the same time, so it is important to make the right choice that boosts your chances of achieving permanent residency in the United States. In this article, we'll dive deep into the ins and outs of each immigration process, helping you make informed decisions regarding your immigration journey.

Adjustment of Status

Adjustment of status is a legal process in which an individual can apply for lawful permanent resident status, also known as a Green Card, in the United States. In these cases, the applicant does not need to return to his or her home country to complete visa processing, and instead is able to apply while he or she is present in the United States. To qualify for Adjustment of Status, individuals must meet specific eligibility criteria. This typically includes being eligible for a green card through a family member, employer, or other means such as refugee or asylum status. The process of Adjustment of Status involves filing Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, along with supporting documentation and applicable fees. Additionally, applicants may need to undergo a medical examination and attend an interview at a USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) office.

A significant advantage to adjustment of status is that the applicant can generally reside in the United States with family members and in some cases, even work with employment authorization while they wait for their green card to get approved. Accordingly, adjustment of status may be the correct choice for those who have established roots in the U.S., such as family ties, employment opportunities, or educational pursuits. 

The processing time for an adjustment of status green card ranges between 8 to 14 months, depending on caseload and the specific circumstances of the applicant. 

Consular Processing

Unlike an adjustment of status proceeding, consular processing takes place outside of the United States. This is considered the right option for those who plan to spend their next year living outside of the United States. These applications are handled by your local U.S. embassy or consulate. Consular officers generally focus solely on immigration matters, potentially leading to a more straightforward adjudication process. Consular processing is the mandatory route for all those residing outside of the United States at their time of application. Prior to application, it is crucial to determine whether you are eligible through one of the immigrant visa categories that allow for consular processing. Information regarding eligibility can be found on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or through your immigration attorney. Once you have filed your application, your consular office will reach out to schedule an interview at your local U.S. consulate or embassy once a visa becomes available.

The typical processing time for a consular processing is about 6-12 months, although this range can vary depending on a number of factors. In most states, it is quicker to obtain a green card through consular processing than through adjustment of status. It may also be a convenient option for those who wish to avoid the logistical challenges of relocating to the United States while navigating the complexities of applying for permanent residence. 

What Process is Right for Me?

Deciding whether to pursue a U.S. green card through Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing can be a challenging choice to make. It should be noted that there is no “one size fits all” option for permanent residence application. The correct application process for you depends on your personal circumstances and eligibility criteria. When deciding which avenue to take, you may want to consider the following questions:

  • Are you currently residing in the United States?
  • Do you have any travel restrictions or obligations that might affect your ability to attend an interview at a U.S. consulate abroad?
  • Where do I plan on spending the next year of my life?
  • Are you eligible for Adjustment of Status based on your current immigration status?

Overall, it's strongly recommended to consult with an immigration attorney that can provide personalized support regarding this difficult decision. They can carefully evaluate your situation and offer expert guidance to help you make the most informed choices regarding Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing. Book a consultation today with an expert at Attorney At Law.

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