Switching between Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing

Switching between Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing

At the time of filing the immigrant petition, the petitioner must indicate if the beneficiary of the petition will adjust status within the United States, a process commonly referred to as Adjustment of Status (AOS) or will apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S. consulate, a process commonly referred to as Consular Processing (CP).

Generally, AOS is a preferred route if the beneficiary is present in the U.S. as the beneficiary can continue to live in the U.S. during this process. Additional benefits of filing AOS include ability to obtain work permit (EAD) while they wait for their AOS application to be adjudicated. While the petitioner is not allowed to select both AOS and CP, if circumstances demand, it is allowed to switch between the two.   

Consular Processing to Adjustment of Status

A transfer from CP to AOS is very straightforward as you just need to file Form I-485 (AOS) along with other ancillary benefits with the USCIS. Once the application for AOS is filed the CP is terminated and the immigrant petition and related documents are transferred from National Visa Center (NVC) to USCIS where they are adjudicated once the priority date becomes current.

Adjustment of Status to Consular Processing

A transfer from AOS to CP is not as straight forward as the other way around. If an immigrant petition was originally marked as AOS and then a decision is made to change it to CP, the petitioner must, upon approval of immigrant petition, first file Form I-824 to notify the change to USCIS. Once USCIS adjudicates the Form I-824, the case is transferred to NVC for it to initiate the CP. Due to long processing time of Form I-824, it is recommended that the form I-824 should be filed as early as possible.

Conclusion

For someone desiring benefit of both CP and AOS, it is generally a better strategy to mark the immigrant petition for CP as it can be converted to AOS at any point of time without any additional costs and delay.