Adjustment Of Status Vs. Consular Processing
Millions of immigrants come to the United States every year in pursuit of a new life. Many immigrants already living in the U.S. will apply for a green card on behalf of a family member. However, applying for a visa is a complex process, and many terms and procedures are confusing for applicants. Two often-confused processes are adjustment of status and consular processing. Read on below to understand adjustment of status vs. consular processing.
Adjustment of Status Eligibility
The adjustment of status process allows immigrants to apply for lawful permanent residence while present in the United States. Parents, spouses, and immediate relatives can apply for a green card on your behalf, but they must meet specific qualifications according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Green card qualifications include the following:
- Spouses of U.S. citizens, unmarried children of a U.S. citizen, or parents of a citizen who is at least 21 years old can apply for a green card as an immediate relative.
- Individuals who are engaged to U.S. citizens or those admitted to the U.S. as a child of an immigrant engaged to a citizen can apply as a fiancé or the fiancé’s child.
- Abused spouses, parents, or children of a citizen can apply as a VAWA self-petitioner, victim of battery, or extreme cruelty.
You must be living in the United States at the time of your application. All applicants for adjustment of status are required to submit Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. The USCIS may require other documentation depending on your situation, so you should consult an attorney for help completing the necessary forms.
Who is Eligible for Consular Processing?
Applicants for lawful permanent resident status who reside in the U.S. can apply through the adjustment of status process, but those who live outside of the U.S. have to go through consular processing. Applicants must apply through the U.S. Department of State consulate in their country and provide property documentation directly to the consulate office. This pathway is sometimes quicker and more streamlined, but there are still complications that may happen along the way.
How to Apply for a Green Card via Consular Processing
You must follow these steps to apply for a green card through consular processing:
- Determine your basis for immigrating: Most immigrants receive eligibility through a petition filed on their behalf by a family member in the United States.
- File the immigrant petition: Most likely, you will need a family member to file an immigrant petition for you. Petitions are usually filed in the U.S., but they may also be filed with a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Some cases require a different filing process altogether due to extraordinary circumstances.
- Wait for a decision: After you submit the immigrant petition, the USCIS will evaluate your application and determine whether you are approved or denied. If you live abroad, the USCIS will send your petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center, where it will remain until you have an immigrant visa number.
- Wait for a notification from the National Visa Center: The National Visa Center collects application fees and supports documentation processing. The NVC will notify the applicant when the visa is ready, and an immigrant visa number is available.
- Attend your appointment: The consular office will schedule an interview once a visa is available. The interview is a tool to further determine whether you are eligible to receive lawful permanent resident status.
- After your visa is granted: The consular officer will give you a Visa Packet to give to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer when you arrive in the United States. The officer will inspect your packet and decide whether to admit you into the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident.
- Receive your green card: Once you have paid the USCIS Immigrant Fee, you will receive your green card in the mail within 45 days of your arrival.
Whether you apply for a green card through the adjustment of status process or consular processing, speak with a legal representative. A North Charleston immigration attorney can help you and your family understand your options and how to proceed with the necessary application.
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