Green card holders working in California frequently want their spouses to live legally in the United States. If you want your spouse to live here with you, what type of processing is better for your situation: adjustment of status or consular processing?
Can I choose between the two methods?
When applying for a spousal visa or green card, immigration law indicates the process you must follow depends on where your spouse currently lives, so you don’t have a choice. If your spouse lives within the United States, the process you must follow is called adjustment of status. Usually, you will file the required paperwork in conjunction with your own application. Your spouse must maintain a valid immigration status in the United States while waiting for the green card. Visa numbers are immediately available to spouses of U.S citizens but not to green card holders, so you both must have a visa that is valid for 2.5 years after filing a marriage-based application.
Consular processing occurs when your spouse lives abroad or has a visa about to expire. In this instance, your spouse must apply through the American consulate in their home country and either apply for a visa extension or a brand new visa before applying for a green card.
Filing the correct paperwork
The requirements for both types are the same, but the forms required for family-based immigration are different. Filing the wrong paperwork will deny your spouse’s green card application or at least delay it.
In some situations, you may be able to file for “exceptional circumstances” through a direct consular filing for couples living abroad. This method represents the fastest way to obtain a green card, as it will only take about three months if your spouse meets the necessary qualifications and paperwork.