It’s not always easy to know the best way to apply for a green card in California, nor is it always obvious whether you have a choice in the matter. So whether you’re deciding between adjustment of status and consular processing or if there’s only one way forward, it’s helpful to learn as much as possible before getting started.
Adjustment of status if you’re in the U.S.
Officially known as a spousal visa, getting a marriage-based green card depends on the applicant’s country of residence. Applying from within the U.S. means you’ll likely be going through the process known as adjustment of status. Concurrent filing is another name it goes by.
In this process, two forms are filed: family sponsorship form I-130 and adjustment of status application I-485. You can file them separately, but it’s more common to do them simultaneously.
Consular processing if you’re abroad
If you’re applying from a different county, you must get through a different consular processing process. It gets its name from the fact that U.S. consulate and embassy officers are involved. The National Visa Center, or NVC, a branch of the U.S. Department of State, is in charge of handling this process.
In most cases, applicants don’t get to choose which process they use to get their green card. But there are some instances where a couple can decide how and where they will apply.
For example, as long as the sponsoring spouse is a legal citizen of the U.S. and the green card applicant is in the U.S., and their immigration status is valid, the couple can choose between adjustment of status and consular processing. The most important consideration when deciding between these two options is the couple’s plans for the next few years.