Once an immediate relative of a US citizen or lawful permanent resident has an immigrant visa available to them, he or she must decide whether to obtain the green card via the adjustment of status process, or via consular processing. Each of the options has advantages and drawbacks. Thus, an immigration lawyer should be consulted prior to embarking on either path.
Adjustment of Status
Green card applicants who choose the adjustment of status path may complete the entire application process at a local USCIS office near where they live or intend to live in the United States. Adjustment of status is only an option for people who are lawfully present in the US at the time of submitting the adjustment of status application or immediate family members of US citizens. After submitting the application, the immigrant will be sent to have fingerprints taken and may be scheduled for an adjustment of status interview.
All immigrant visa applicants are entitled to apply for the green card via consular processing at a US Embassy or Consulate abroad, provided there is an immigrant visa available. If approved for the immigrant visa, the applicant will enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident and will not be required to also undergo the adjustment of status process. However, K-3 spousal visa applicants and K-1 fiance visa applicants will still have to file for adjustment of status after entering the United States on an approved K visa.