Consular Processing vs. Adjustment of Status: Which Should I Choose?

December 1, 2012

file000537259480.jpgWhen making the decision whether to file for adjustment of status (AOS) in the United States or to get consular processing (CP) abroad, there are several factors to examine. The processing time to get an immigrant visa and the time to get adjustment of status can vary. Many foreign nationals are eager to finish the process as fast as possible. Employment-based immigrants may worry about getting laid off before their process has completed. Family-based immigrants may be anxious to ultimately reach naturalization and obtain US citizenship so that they may begin filing petitions for other family members.

Advantages of Adjustment of Status

AOS allows you to remain in the United States. The application is filed by mail, which is convenient because you do not have to travel and incur the trouble and cost of attending an interview at the consulate abroad. The USCIS will usually waive the interview requirement and simply approve the application based upon the information provided in the forms and the evidence attached as supporting documentation. However, the interview is not waived for family-based and diversity visa lottery applications. You may be able to obtain work authorization EAD and advance parole AP permission to travel outside the US while your application is pending. Employment-based applicants may be able to take advantage of AC21 portability benefits to switch employers.

Advantages of Consular Processing

CP takes place in your home country at the US Consulate. CP may be faster in some cases. There is no requirement to maintain valid status while your application is pending. Consular processing applications are less likely to be denied. If you have immigration violations on your record, a criminal record, or other negative issues, you may want to choose CP instead of AOS. An application for adjustment of status filed with the USCIS is discretionary, meaning that your application can be denied if the USCIS officer adjudicating your application simply decides not to approve it. Conversely, an immigrant visa application filed with a consular office is not discretionary and must be granted unless it can be denied based upon specific legal grounds.

With these factors in mind, it may be advantageous to get advice from a professional, experienced immigration attorney to help you with your decision.