Consular Processing and Adjustment of Status

Law Resource Links, Maryland


Consular Processing allows an applicant for an immigrant visa (Green Card) to apply at a US Department of State consulate abroad. Once a visa petition, whether family-based or employment-based, has been approved, USCIS sends the petition to the National Visa Center (NVC). An applicant for an immigrant visa can submit their application at the NVC. When the application is complete, the NVC will forward it to the Consulate or Embassy, and the applicant will be scheduled for an interview.


Adjustment of status is the process that foreign nationals applying for permanent residency in the United States follow to obtain that status without leaving the country. The USCIS Adjustment of Status process requires the completion of many forms, paying the required filing fees, having biometrics captured, and submitting many personal documents and information. It is also essential to know where to file the application, as this would depend on the applicant’s residence.


Advantages of Adjustment of Status

  • Adjustment of Status may avoid inadmissibility issues since the applicant does not need to leave the United States.
  • If USCIS denies adjustment of status, the decision can be appealed, and the applicant may stay in the United States until the appeal is concluded.
  • An applicant for adjustment of status may apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) and be working in the United States while awaiting the adjudication of their application. They may also apply for permission to travel in and out of the United States -Advance Parole (AP)
  • Once the application has been filed, an applicant need not continue to be in a valid nonimmigrant status.
    An applicant for adjustment of status based on an approved employment-based Petition can change positions with the same employer or keep the same position at another location with the same or similar occupation classification if the application has been pending for 180 days.
  • No interview is required for employment-based applications.

Disadvantages of Adjustment of Status

  • The approximate processing time for Adjustment of Status can be quite lengthy
  • If you have any criminal or immigration violations, you may not be eligible for Adjustment of Status.
  • If USCIS denies your application, you must file another application for obtaining an immigrant visa.

Advantages of Consular Processing

  • The Consular Processing process is generally quicker than the Adjustment of Status process.
  • Processing concurrently with family members who are currently living abroad.

Disadvantages of Consular Processing

  • You cannot apply for a work permit and advance parole with Consular Processing.
  • You must continue to maintain nonimmigrant status such as H or L in order to work while your application is pending.
  • Consular Processing requires police certificates from every country where you have lived for one year or more.
  • Appointment availability depends on the individual consulate.
    You will be interviewed at a US consulate, whereas there is no interview for employment-based Adjustment of Status.

Change from Adjustment of Status to Consular Processing
Selecting either Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing does not lock you into that process. You can change from Adjustment of Status to Consular Processing if needed. You can file an application for action on an approved petition (Form I-824) to move the approved petition from USCIS to NVC.

Change from Consular Processing to Adjustment of Status
To transfer an approved petition from USCIS (Adjustment of Status) to NVC (Consular Processing), you only need to file Form I-485 noting the change with USCIS. However, it is a good practice to also notify NVC. The Consular Processing will be canceled and the file transferred from the NVC to the USCIS Service Center adjudicating the application.