July 21, 2008: Adjustment Of Status Or Consular Processing?

Adjustment Of Staus Or Consular Processing?

My wife is a Canadian citizen and I am a United States citizen. We got married inside the United States. She entered the United States on a visitor visa. We filed the Form I-130 and it was approved. We just received a letter asking if we still want to go further and take the next step to I-485. The letter indicated that we should call or email the NVC to verify we are going through with the next step. We did not hear a reply from them, and CIS told us to keep trying. Should we just send the I-485? Or should we wait?
— Anonymous

Generally, there are two very different filing processes for becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States.

One process is known as adjustment of status, where the entire permanent resident process occurs within the United States and you and your wife will appear at a local district office for an interview before a District Adjudications Officer. The other process is applying for the permanent resident visa at an American Consular Post abroad, known as consular processing. This requires that she submit documentation to the National Visa Center, which in turn sends the information to the consular post in the foreign country, where she will be scheduled for an interview before a consular officer. The forms, required supporting documentation, and procedural steps are very different for the two filing processes. However, assuming your wife has not overstayed her authorized period of stay in the United States and she is otherwise eligible to travel in and out of the United States, either of these options is available to you.

Since she is presently in the United States, adjustment of status may be the most advantageous route for her because she will not be required to travel outside the United States for any reason. She will be able to file a Form I-765, Application for Employment Authorization, along with the Form I-485, Application for Adjustment of Status. That way, she will be able to work in the United States before her green card is issued. If she decides she wants to adjust her status in the United States and not consular process, she should contact the National Visa Center to let them know of her decision. From the facts presented, there does not appear to be any reason that your wife should delay filing the adjustment of status application.

If she has further questions about which process to use, where she needs to file the applications and what supporting documents are required, she should contact an experienced immigration attorney to assist her with the permanent residency process.

Michael Shane and Evan Shane, Immigration Attorneys