There are two ways to apply for permanent resident status in the United States. First, before you can apply for permanent resident status in the United States, you must have an approved immigrant petition and have a visa number immediately available to you. If you have accomplished both of these steps, there are two processes of a green card application.
If you are currently located in the United States, Adjustment of Status is the process that you may seek in obtaining lawful permanent resident status. You may have heard of the term "Green Card" before. Well, a "Green Card" refers to this permanent resident status in the USA. With Adjustment of Status, you have the benefit of staying in the United States while your application is being processed. If you are physically present in the United States, have lawfully entered into the United States, and have an approved and immigration petition, then you will have met the requirements to file an application for adjustment of status.
If you are outside of the United States or if you wish to go outside the US before you are ready to apply for a green card, you must obtain your immigrant visa through consular processing. In order to obtain the immigrant entry visa, you must have an approved immigration petition, obtain a visa number from the National Visa Center, and then submit your application for an immigrant visa to the U.S. consulate in a country of your physical presence, most often it is your home country. Once all documents are received and reviewed, you will be scheduled for an interview t the U.S. Consulate. Provided that no red flags appeared during the interview, you will be granted an immigrant visa, with which you can enter the United States. Once you cross the boarder USCIS will mail you your green card. Expect to receive it within a month.
The processing time for each of these pathways can vary greatly. It depends on the underlying immigration petition (e.g. in which preference category the applicant is). Sometimes a person will have no choice as to whether to go through the adjustment of status or consular processing. However, when both are viable options, an experience immigration attorney can look up processing times and, with consideration of the applicant’s personal circumstances, advise on the best course of actions.
Contact us today if you have any questions or concerns. We will gladly explain every detail of the process.