What Is an Adjustment of Status vs. Consular Processing?

There are two methods for obtaining permanent resident status in the United States, as recognized by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). One is by applying for an adjustment of status. The other is by undergoing consular processing. Read on to discover the difference between the two and how a seasoned adjustment of status – immigration attorney in WI, at the Sesini Law Group, S.C., can help you decipher which path better suits your circumstances.

What does it mean to get an adjustment of status?

As the name suggests, an adjustment of status means that a “noncitizen” is petitioning to change their standing in the United States to a “lawful permanent resident.” This is otherwise known as the process of applying for a green card. Of note, you may be eligible for a green card through family or employment or as a special immigrant, refugee, or asylee, among other categories. Regardless, obtaining a green card starts with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.

How is an adjustment of status different from consular processing?

Similar to an adjustment of status, consular processing is a way to obtain “lawful permanent resident” status in the United States via a green card application. However, this is specifically relevant if you are the beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition and have an immigrant visa number immediately available. With this, you may file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, or a form for a specialty category.

Overall, the main difference between the two is that you may apply for an adjustment of status while you are still present in the United States. On the other hand, you may apply for consular processing at the United States Department of State consulate in your country of current residence or your country of birth. This is to say that your preference for which path to choose may be dependent on your current residence. Otherwise, below is a short list of advantages and disadvantages for each path:

  • Advantages of consular processing versus adjustment of status:
    • This process may be cheaper (i.e., no fee to $345 fee versus a $1,140 fee).
    • This process may be quicker from start to finish (i.e., five to 13 months versus 12 to 24 months).
    • This process may not require a physical examination specifically from a USCIS-approved United States physician.
  • Disadvantages of consular processing versus adjustment of status:
    • This process does not offer you the benefits of a work permit or advance parole.
    • This process may bar your lawyer from attending your mandatory interview alongside you.
    • This process may require you to obtain police certificates from each country you have lived in for one year or more.

Regardless of which path you choose, you must hire a competent consular processing immigration visa lawyer in WI from the Sesini Law Group, P.C.

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