Should You Apply to Adjust Status in the United States or Seek an Immigrant Visa Abroad?

On Behalf of | Jun 25, 2020 | Immigration Law

After a beneficiary of an immigrant petition receives approval, she must decide whether to adjust status in the United States or apply for an immigrant visa abroad.

With the prolonged adjudication times of adjustment of status applications, many of our clients who are in the United States consider going through the immigrant visa process at a consular office abroad, rather than applying for adjustment of status with the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS). There are pros and cons to both options.

Adjustment of Status. The Adjustment of Status (AOS) application process involves submitting a Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status with the USCIS, while the foreign national remains here in the United States. Current AOS adjudication times, as reported by the USCIS as of the date of this writing, are up to 27.5 months. However, this estimate is subject to change and also varies by where the application is processed. We have seen the processing times range to 4 years. To file for AOS, the foreign national must show maintenance of status at all times in the United States.

Immigrant Visa. Because of the lengthy adjudication times of AOS, many will want to consider obtaining a green card through the immigrant visa (IV) application process. This involves submitting a DS-260 application, which the foreign national can do from the US, and then going abroad for a medical examination and the immigrant visa interview. The current processing times for this are about 9 months from receipt of the fee bill (as of the date of this writing and based on internal estimates prior to COVID-related delays). This means compared to AOS, the foreign national would be able to obtain lawful permanent residence status or conditional lawful permanent residence significantly earlier—barring any administrative processing.

Of course, other factors are at play in making a decision. Can you afford to take time off of work to leaving the United States and to go through the IV process? Are COVID-related impacts otherwise deter you from travelling? Have you maintained status through your entire stay in the United States?

The Law Offices of Robert P. Gaffney can help you navigate through this process. Speak to one of our attorneys today.

This information is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship between Law Offices of Robert P. Gaffney and anyone else. This information is not intended to be used as a substitute for specific legal advice based on an individual or organization’s particular facts and circumstances, and it should not be considered as such.