Applying for a Green Card: AOS or Consular Processing?
As you investigate the route to apply for a green card, you’ll hear two terms: Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing. Both are legitimate avenues to take to file for Green Card status, but they’re distinctly different.
The AOS process, quite simply, adjusts your status from a visa holder to a Green Card holder. This happens when you’re legally in the United States under an H-1B visa or similar document at the time of filing for the green card.
Consular processing is necessary if you’re applying to become a US citizen from outside the country. The green card application is processed at the closest US consulate or embassy. You can’t enter the US until the green card is approved.
Each of these avenues has its own set of requests, fees, and timelines, although the requirements are the same. An immigration attorney, like Visa2US, can help you determine which route is best for you.
Can You Use an AOS for a Marriage Green Card?
You’re already in the US, and you decide to marry a US citizen. It happens. You’ll have lots of paperwork to complete and hurdles to jump, as USCIS wants to ensure you’re truly marrying for love and not citizenship. But it is possible.
A marriage green card AOS takes anywhere from one to two years to complete if you’re marrying a US citizen or a green card holder. However, this could take longer to process and approve if you’re in the country under a K-1 visa, and timelines vary for all visa holders depending on the current caseload of the nearest USCIS office.
Fees for an AOS
Completing the green card process involves a lot of paperwork and a few sets of fees along the way. To begin with, the initial petition is $535 for the I-130 filing. This fee varies based on the petition you’re required to file, so check the requirements carefully before paying.
The next step is to file for the I-485 green card application upon approval. This fee is $1,140 plus a biometrics fee of $85. Applicants under the age of 14 filing alongside a parent’s request pay $995. If they’re filing independently, they must pay the full amount. Biometrics fees are waived for those under 14 or 79 and over. Both fees are waived for anyone filing Form I-485 under refugee status.
How to Qualify for an AOS
Eligibility for a green card through an Adjustment of Status requires the individual to meet certain qualifications. You may meet these requirements in one of these ways:
● Qualifying for a family-based green card as an immediate family member of another green card holder or a US citizen (spouse, child, parent, or another close relative).
● Work-based green cards through sponsorship as an employee by a US-based employer or through your own merit.
● Humanitarian grounds, the diversity lottery, refugee status, or other special reasons.
● Marriage/family of a US citizen with an IR6/CR6 spouse and accompanying IR7/CR7 child when the sponsor.
● Sponsoring as a legal permanent resident (aka green card holder) in the F2A category (F26 spouse or F27 child)
● Sponsoring as a US citizen with a foreign spouse under a K fiance visa (CF1 spouse or CF 2 child)
Everyone applying for an AOS must have a valid visa or filed for the Visa Waiver Program for their most recent visit to the US. In almost all situations, you must be currently in a valid period or lawful status when you apply for the AOS unless you’re applying through marriage to a US citizen or as a refugee.
Steps to Obtain an I-485 AOS
Ready to apply for your I-485 Adjustment of Status green card? Follow these steps for a successful application:
- Verify that you are eligible for a green card. Visa2US can simplify this step and offer other suggestions if this isn’t the correct path for your citizenship status.
- Have the appropriate sponsor file the petition that matches your green card category (i.e., the I-130 for a family green card or the I-140 for an employment-based green card). Again, your immigration lawyer is beneficial during this process.
- Wait for USCIS to grant the petition.
- Watch for the visa availability for your green card category. This can take years, depending on the visa petition you requested.
- When the visa is available, file the AOS application.
- Wait for the I-485 form and your biometrics appointment sent to you from USCIS.
- Attend the in-person interview if necessary and your biometric appointment.
- Receive your decision or a request for more information or a follow-up interview. If the application is approved, you’ll get a notice in the mail, and your green card will come later.
At Visa2US, we understand that the green card process is vital to your future. We want to help make this endeavor easier and optimize your chances of success. Our immigration experts will answer your questions confidentially, review your green card application, and offer suggestions to help you move forward toward your goal.
Contact us today online or over the phone. We’re available 24/7, every day, to handle all your H-1B visa and green card needs.