Adjustment of Status VS. Consular Processing

What is Adjustment of Status?(AOS)

The term “Adjustment of Status” refers to an immigration application that is processed entirely within the United States, through a USCIS office. In order to file an Adjustment of Status application, the applicant must have entered the United States legally and have a visa waiting for them.

Pros of Adjustment of Status (AOS)

  • It may avoid issues of admissibility because the applicant do not have to depart and re-enter the U.S.
  • Application decisions may be appealed; the applicant may be able to stay in the U.S. until a final decision is reached.
  • The applicant may apply for work permission or travel document that do not require a visa for traveling while the application is being processed.
  • The applicant does not need to maintain the nonimmigrant status while the AOS application is pending.
  • The applicant may have an attorney present at the interview.

For employment based immigration applications

  • If the I-485 application has been pending for 180 days or more, the applicant can change jobs with the same employer or maintain the same job at a different location with the same or similar occupation classification.
  • No interview is required for employment based applications.

Cons of Adjustment of Status (AOS)

  • Generally speaking, the AOS processing time within USCIS is longer than Consular Processing.
  • The applicant may not be eligible for AOS if you have committed any criminal or immigration violations.
  • If USCIS denies the application, the applicant must file another application for obtaining an immigrant visa.

Travel Considerations of Adjustment of Status (AOS)

  • While the AOS application is pending with USCIS, the applicant may travel outside the U.S. with proper permissions or travel documents.

What is Consular Processing? (CP)

If the applicant is outside the U.S. with an immigrant petition (Form I-130 or I-140) approved and discovered that the priority date is “current” and a visa number has become available. The applicant attends an immigrant visa interview at a U.S. consulate or embassy in the applicant’s home country.

Pros of Consular Processing (CP)

  • Generally speaking, the CP process is quicker than the AOS process within USCIS.
  • Concurrent processing with family members who are currently residing overseas.

Cons of Consular Processing (CP)

  • The applicant has no right of appeal from a consular denial.
  • The applicant cannot apply for work permission and travel documents with CP.
  • The applicant will be interviewed at a US consulate and the appointment schedule depends on the individual consulate or embassy in the applicant’s home country.
  • The applicant cannot have an attorney present at the CP interview.

For employment based immigration applications

  • The applicant must continue to maintain nonimmigrant status in order to work while the application is pending.

Travel Considerations of Consular Processing (CP)

Generally speaking,it is normally more difficult to enter the U.S. while an immigrant visa petition is pending. The applicant may try to apply for a non-immigrant visa such as B1/B2, but the applicant needs to provide evidence of the non-immigrant intent with the pending immigrant visa.