Consular Processing is the process in which the beneficiary of an immigration petition (either family-based or employment-based) is outside the U.S. and applies for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate overseas. This process will commence only when the underlying immigration petition is approved and visa number is available. If the beneficiary is in the U.S., he may apply for adjustment of status through the BCIS or consular processing unless he is not qualified.
The following aliens may need Consular Processing:
a) Persons who are outside the U.S.; or
b) Persons who are in the U.S. but prefers processing at a U.S. consulate for strategic or convenience reasons
Consular Processing v. Adjustment of Status
The differences between Consular Processing and called Adjustment of Status:
Consular Processing has the following characteristics:
a) The time frame for Consular Processing is quicker than Adjustment of status. From the date the immigrant visa is available, an average of 5 to 13 months processing time is expected;
b) Consular Processing must process in the foreign country of residence or country of birth;
c) An alien who chooses to apply for Consular Processing has no benefits of work permit and advance parole; and
d) If an alien chooses to apply for Consular Processing, he must go back to the country of last residence or country of birth for an interview and medical exam at a U.S. consulate.
Adjustment of Status has the following characteristics:
a) Adjustment of status may be slow. For adjustment of status based on employment-based immigration petition, an average of 1 to 2 years processing time is expected. For example, the processing time in Texas Service Center is about 22 months, California Service Center is about 8 months, Nebraska Service Center is about 19 months, and Vermont Service Center is about 18 months. For adjustment of status based on family-based immigration petition, 3 months to 3 years processing time may be expected depending on the different district office. For example, the processing time in the Philadelphia district office is about 3 months while the processing time in the Houston district office is about 3 years.
b) If an alien applies for adjustment of status, he must reside in the United States;
c) An alien who chooses to apply for adjustment of status has the benefits of work permit and advance parole. and
d) An alien who chooses to apply for adjustment of status needs to take fingerprints and a health exam
Needless to say, the basic benefit of applying for Consular Processing is that the alien has reached the final step in getting the green card. Once the Consular Processing application is approved, the alien is able to gain permanent resident status in the United States. The primary advantage of Consular Processing is speed. The time frame for Consular Processing is between 5 to 13 months on average.