When seeking to apply for U.S. immigration, an applicant has two main options: consular processing or adjustment of status. Although both serve the same purpose, the process of each differs. Which one is the best for a particular applicant will depend on their priorities.
The main difference between the two is concerned with the steps involved to complete the immigration process, as well as where they should be done.
Consular processing involves three main steps. First, the applicant files the appropriate petition with immigration, which is usually an I130 petition. Once the petition is filed, the necessary forms and documents are forwarded to the National Visa Center to be compiled in a packet for the consulate.
As part of the application process, the applicant will be required to have their medical exam and send in the medical paperwork. The last step is to attend an interview at a U.S. consulate abroad.
After the interview, the applicant will receive an immigrant visa and be able to enter the United States. When everything's in order and they have successfully moved to the U.S., their formal green card is mailed to their U.S. home.
Adjustment of Status
In contrast to the defined three-step process of consular processing, adjustment of status works very differently. In this option, the entire case is filed together, requesting everything from the immigrant petition to the green card application all at the same time.
The interview for adjustment of status is conducted at a local field office in the United States. Hence, the applicant does not need to leave the country to attend the interview and fulfill their immigration process requirements.
Should You Choose Consular Processing or Adjustment of Status?
Every applicant has different priorities and preferences when it comes to the immigration process. Hence, there is no one-size-fits-all solution that suits every immigration case. Speaking to an attorney can provide valuable insights and considerations to help choose the best immigration process for specific needs and priorities.