Adjustment of Status vs. Consular Processing: What’s the Difference?


If you’re seeking temporary or permanent resident status in the United States, it’s crucial to understand the differences between Consular Processing and Adjustment of Status. The primary difference is that adjustment of status is processed while you’re in the U.S., while Consular Processing is undergone at the U.S. consulate or embassy in your home country. While Adjustment of Status is typically favored by aliens seeking to live and work in the U.S., due to the lack of travel requirements and because there is an opportunity to file an appeal in the event of a denial, Consular Processing may be the better option, depending on your unique circumstances. Please continue reading to learn the pros and cons of each option and how a proficient New Jersey Immigration Lawyer can help you make informed decisions about your future. 

What is Consular Processing?

The application process for lawful permanent resident status will vary depending on whether you’re already in the U.S. or still in your home country. Consular Processing requires the alien applicant to travel to their country of origin. In contrast, Adjustment of Status permits all processing within the U.S. Essentially, you must wait in your home country until your green card is approved. To apply, you will need to file Form DS-260, attend an interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy, and provide support documents.

The timeframe for Consular Processing is usually quicker than Adjustment of Status, generally taking an average of six to twelve months. During the application process, you must undergo an interview and a medical exam abroad to prove your eligibility. It’s crucial to understand that if you choose Consular Processing, you won’t have access to benefits such as a work permit or advanced parole while processing your application.

What is Adjustment of Status?

As mentioned above, Adjustment of Status is the process you can undergo when you’re already present in the U.S. Therefore, you can apply for a green card without leaving the country. This process is only available to eligible people based on the type of visa they entered the country with, such as a family-based or employment-based visa. To apply, you must file Form I-185 and provide supporting documents for proof of eligibility.

While this immigration process may be slower, it offers several benefits to applicants. The timeline will depend on your specific situation. It usually ranges from thirteen to twenty months, but it could take longer. Unlike Consular Processing, if you choose Adjustment of Status, you can take advantage of benefits such as a work permit and advance parole while your application is being processed. This means you can continue to work and live in the country while waiting for your green card to become available.

If you need help navigating these immigration options, please don’t hesitate to contact a determined lawyer from the Law Offices of Aditya Surti, LLC, who can help guide you through each phase of the process ahead.

Contact Us
We’re Ready to Hear From You
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.