When seeking lawful permanent residence (LPR) in the United States, applicants undergo one of two immigration procedures: adjustment of status vs consular processing. Several factors, such as geographical location or temporary visas, may determine which procedure you will proceed with, and some applicants may even be granted the right to choose between the two.
Individuals seeking lawful permanent residence and holding a valid immigration status, such as an F-1 student visa or an H-1B work visa and having an immediate family member or spouse that is a United States citizen, are eligible to choose between the two processes. If you are eligible to choose, we recommend reading further and reaching out to a knowledgeable immigration lawyer to make an informed decision before moving forward in your immigration process.
Consular processing is one of the most common immigration procedures for those seeking lawful permanent residence while living outside of the United States. Applicants may only apply for consular processing in their country of origin, in a third country, if eligible, or in another country they work in.
To be considered for consular processing, a family member or U.S. employer must submit a petition on your behalf, generally Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, or Form I-140, Immigration Petition for Alien Worker. Once you or your petitioner has received a priority date and a visa number, you can then apply for a United States immigrant visa while living abroad. Once the immigrant visa application is submitted, you must complete an interview with a consular officer at your local U.S. embassy or consulate. From there, they will contact you about further steps for retrieving your immigrant visa.
Consular processing is completed through three different government entities which are U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the National Visa Center and your local United States embassy. The average timeline for consular processing ranges from four to eight months from the day of USCIS approval.
Adjustment of Status is another immigration procedure developed to help those who already reside in the United States to become lawful permanent residents. To apply for lawful permanent residency in the United States, you must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
Processing time can vary and can be verified by visiting the USCIS website for the most up to date information. The average wait time can range from 8 to 30 months based on their category
Adjustment of status processing time can be different based on the application category:
Processing times for an adjustment of status may vary depending on the details of your personal immigration case. We highly recommend that you reach out to an immigration attorney for further guidance.
You are eligible to choose between adjustment of status or consular processing if you are seeking lawful permanent residency and have a valid visa, such as an F-1 student visa (Academic Student) or an H-1B work visa and if your spouse or immediate family member is a United States citizen.
Consular processing is an immigration process in which individuals seeking lawful permanent residence from a foreign country must file their paperwork abroad on behalf of a United States petitioner, most commonly a family member or employer. These documents are filed with a U.S. consulate within their own country.
Adjustment of status grants individuals already living in the United States the opportunity to adjust their immigration status and file for lawful permanent residence without returning to their country of origin.
An interview is usually scheduled within three months after the National Visa Center receives all requested documentation. However, this timeframe is dependent on the consular section's operation and capacity.