Obtaining a U.S. green card is a two step process. The first step is filing either an I-130 or I-140 petition. The I-130 is for family members who are filing for their foreign national relative. The I-140 is filed by an employer for their qualified employee. In some cases, depending on the specifics of the I-130 or I-140 filing, a foreign national may be able to adjust status at the same time as the I-130 or I-140 is filed, and save some processing time. If that option is not available in a certain case, the foreign national has to decide on consular processing (also known as visa processing) or adjustment of status once the I-130 or I-140 petition is approved.
The chart below provides a broad overview of the 2 options available.
Please note: This information should not be considered comprehensive or applicable to any individual case. Information specific to individual cases can be obtained through consultation with an Attorney at our firm.
Visa (Consular) Processing
Adjustment of Status
|Available to individuals who are inside or outside of the U.S. This cannot be filed until the I-130 or I-140 is approved.||Available to only individuals who are inside the U.S. In some instances this application can be filed at the same time as the I-130 or I-140.|
|Allows the individual to apply for permanent residency at Consulate abroad and enter the U.S. as a permanent resident.||Used in instances when a foreign national, legally residing in the U.S., wishes to apply for permanent residency.|
Government Fees (subject to change)
|Visa Processing fees vary by country but total approximately $500.00.||$1,070.00 filing fee (Form I-485) includes Employment Authorization Document and Advanced Parole.|
|Processing Time||Case to be transferred from USCIS to NVC: 0-90 days. NVC review: approximately 30-60 days from date of submission. Consular interview scheduled in 2-3 months after NVC states case is “completed.”||Processing times for Adjustment of Status varies widely but for immediate relatives (spouses, parents, and unmarried children under 21 of U.S. Citizens) the current processing time is 4-5 months.|
|Unmarried, dependent children under the age of 21 may be included in the petition.||Adjustment of Status applications are filed individually for unmarried, dependent children under the age of 21.|
|Once permanent resident status is granted upon entry, foreign spouse can travel to and from U.S. as a green card holder.||May not travel outside U.S. until receipt of Advance Parole document, which usually occurs 60-90 days after submission.|
|Work Authorization is granted upon receipt of green card status and after social security number is applied for.||May not work until Employment Authorization is granted, which usually occurs 60-90 days after submission.|
|Procedure||Once the Embassy is notified that an immigrant visa is available, an interview occurs at the Embassy or Consulate. The applicant must attend a medical examination before the interview. If approved, the applicant is admitted as a Lawful Permanent Resident.||All forms are filed with the appropriate USCIS Service Center. A biometrics (fingerprinting) appointment is scheduled relatively early on in the process and the medical exam occurs before the submission of the application. If the AOS application is marriage based, then a final interview with USCIS is scheduled prior to approval.|
|Conditional Permanent Residence||In most marriage based cases, if you and your spouse have been married for less than 2 years at the time of the interview, the applicant’s permanent residency is issued on a conditional basis. A petition must be filed within 90 days prior to the two year anniversary of the granting of the green card. Failure to do so will result in revocation of the green card.|
If you have questions about applying for a green card for your foreign national relative or employee, please contact us today to discuss your best options.