Differences between Visa Processing and Adjustment of Status

There are two methods for a foreign national to become a U.S. Permanent Resident. The foreign national can go through Visa Processing through a U.S. consulate abroad or through Adjustment of Status in the United States. This article will go through some of main differences between Visa Processing and Adjustment of Status.

Maintenance of Lawful Status for Eligibility

Adjustment of Status requires that the immigrant has never violated their non-immigration status while in the United States unless the immigrant qualifies under an immediate relative category.

Immigrant can still go through Visa Processing even if they previously violated their non-immigrant status unless they are susceptible to the three or ten year bar for unlawful presence.

Case Processing Time

The processing time for Adjustment of Status can run between three months to two years depending on the local USCIS district caseload.

Visa Processing is generally much quicker with processing between two to six months.

Risks of Being Stuck Outside the United States

While there is a possibility of deportation with Adjustment of Status, there are options for the case to be reviewed.

If there are problems with inadmissibility or other issues in a Visa Processing case, the immigrant may be stuck outside the United States without recourse because a consular decision is not reviewable.

Requires Foreign Travel to Consulate

Adjustment of Status is processed in the United States.

Visa Processing requires that the immigrant travel to the consulate for an interview.

Allows Work Authorization in the United States while Case is Processing

Under Adjustment of Status, the immigrant will receive employment authorization about 100 days into the case process or they can work under a previously granted non-immigrant visa that has dual intent.

Unless the Immigrant is authorized to work in the United States under a previously granted non-immigrant visa, the Immigrant cannot work in the United States during Visa Processing.

Immigrant can stay in the United States while Case is Processing

The Immigrant can remain in the United States while the immigrant goes under Adjustment of Status.

Unless the Immigrant received previous non-immigrant visa, the immigrant cannot travel to the United States while the case is processing under Visa Processing.

Simultaneous Processing of Petition and Permanent Residence

Immediate relatives, current employment categories, battered aliens, or special immigrant juveniles can file their immigrant petition and Adjustment of Status at the same time.

For Visa Processing, the immigrant petition must be approved prior to the case is sent to the consulate unless there are humanitarian reasons.

Attorney Representation

The Immigrant can have their attorney present during an Adjustment of Status Interview.

The Consular Officer generally does not allow an attorney to be present during final Visa Processing interview.

Will the Spouse and Children abroad be able to immigrate at the same time?

Under Adjustment of Status, the principal becomes a permanent resident first before the case is sent to the local consulate to allow the family members to process.

Under Visa Processing, the family gets processed together and will immigrate to the United States together.

Most family based immigration is processed through Visa Processing while most employment based immigration is processed through Adjustment of Status.

If you have any questions on which process is the best for you, please contact our office. We can review your needs to assist you in making the proper choice.

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Category: Adjustment of Status, US Immigration

About the Author (Author Profile)

Mr. Robert R. Virasin is a graduate of the University of California, Los Angeles with a Bachelor Degree in Political Science, Mr. Virasin completed his Juris Doctorate at the University of Houston and a Masters of Laws (Business) from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok. Mr. Virasin is a member of the State Bar of Texas and is a licensed U.S. attorney with over 15 years of legal experience. Robert is a regular contributor and author of a number of immigration related articles.


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