There are two ways to obtain a green card in the U.S. One is through consular processing and the other is through adjustment of status (AOS). Consular processing is the process of applying for an immigrant visa from an overseas U.S. embassy or consulate. Once the visa is issued, travel into the U.S. is permitted.
A person can go through adjustment of status while in the U.S. They will need to be on a valid nonimmigrant status in the U.S. at the time of applying.
For a prospective immigrant who is outside the U.S., they may be able to immigrate to the U.S. by going through consular processing. Those already in the U.S. can go through adjustment of status. AOS will not require the applicants to leave the U.S. to obtain legal immigrant status.
If you are and immigrant abroad looking to migrate to the U.S., you may apply for consular processing after From I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, is filed on your behalf by your relative, and it has been approved. Your priority date must also be current. You will be notified when a visa number becomes available.
Those who go through consular processing will not be able to get U.S. work permits or advance parole while their applications are being processed. However, they may be allowed to travel to the U.S. on temporary nonimmigrant visas while their applications are being processed. A temporary nonimmigrant visa may be similar to a visitors visa. Going through consular processing means you will have to attend an immigrant visa interview, submit a police report and undergo a medical examination at an overseas U.S. consulate before getting your visa through consular processing.
Prospective immigrants going through adjustment of status will need to attend interviews in the U.S. and submit biometrics information. They also need to have a health examination by a USCIS certified doctor. Adjustment of status applicants can complete their whole green card process in the U.S. and usually don’t need to return to their home countries for the processing.
Certain applicant who wish to apply for adjustment of status may fall under categories that will need to wait for the approval of their immigrant petitions and priority date to become available. Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, whose visa numbers are immediately available, can file the immigrant petition and the applications to adjust status concurrently.