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Adjustment of Status and the Consular Process

Immigrant visas, or "green cards," entitle aliens to lawful permanent residence status in the United States. There are two methods of obtaining an immigrant visa: Either through adjustment of status or the consular process.


Aliens meeting the requirements set below may be eligible for permanent residency by applying to adjust their status while still in the United States.

The requirements for adjustment of status are generally:

Please note that these are just a few common requirements and are only intended for general information.
There may be more requirements depending on the individual immigration case of an applicant. Besides, some requirements allow exceptions and waivers.

The advantages of adjustment of status:

The adjustment of status procedure:

Each INS office has its own procedure for filing the application. Generally, however,

Aliens who do not qualify for adjustment of status may apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate.


This is the process of obtaining an immigrant visa from U.S. consulates abroad. Eligibility is determined by priority dates and numerical limits of eligible persons based upon applicant's home country. According to a recent law change, aliens staying unlawfully in the U.S. may be barred from re-entering the U.S. This law starts counting the days of unlawful status from April 1, 1997. Thus, persons who left before September 27, 1997 weren't affected by this law. Otherwise, an illegal stay for more than 180 days bars the alien from re-entering the U.S. for three years. A ten year bar applies if the alien stays illegally in the U.S. for one year or more.

The Procedure:

* Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, "special immigrant" physicians, diplomats or their family members, juvenile and Armed Forces service persons are exempt from the penalty requirement.

RO 9/95CA 8/97 NZ/KC 8/01

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The information given in this Web site is intended as general information only.
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