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AOS vs. IVP: Which Is Better for Foreign Nationals in the US?

Once your I-140 petition is approved, you can take the next step toward permanent residency and apply for your green card. Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), there are two paths through which a prospective permanent resident can get their green card: adjustment of status petitions and immigrant visa processing. 

In some cases, people who have made it to this application process step can choose between these paths. However, it may not be immediately obvious which route is better. Below, we have outlined how these processes work and how to choose the best option to achieve permanent residency. 

What Is an Adjustment of Status (AOS)?

An adjustment of status allows certain eligible applicants to petition for their green cards while living in the US. You may qualify for an AOS if you meet the following criteria:

  • You entered the US lawfully
  • You are currently in the country
  • You have a visa or other status that allows you to remain in the US

If you meet these criteria, you can file Form I-485 to request an AOS with USCIS. It can be filed alongside your I-140 or after it is approved. 

One of the major benefits of AOS petitions is that there is no need to leave the US to attend an interview in your country of origin. However, you may not be permitted to leave the country at all. Unless you currently have your H-1B or L-1 visa, you must remain in the US until you’re given your Advance Parole travel authorization. 

What Is Immigration Visa Processing (IVP)?

If you do not currently live in the US, you may be eligible for IVP, or consular processing, instead. Instead of petitioning for a green card directly with USCIS, the agency will send your approved I-140 and other case documents to the National Visa Center (NVC). Once the NVC has the case, it will notify you once it believes that a visa will be available in the next several months. 

Upon receiving notice from the NVC, you will submit any necessary fees and supporting documents it requests. You will also schedule a consular interview in your country of origin. You will need to attend this interview in person. At this interview, the consular office will determine if you are genuinely eligible for permanent residency. You will also have your biometrics documented.

If you pass the interview, you will usually be granted your green card. You will then be given your Visa Packet, which you may not open. Instead, you will carry these papers with you to enter the US. The US Customs officials at the border will open and inspect the packet and confirm that you may enter the country as a lawful permanent resident. 

Choosing Between AOS and IVP for Your Green Card

In many situations, there is no choice between AOS and IVP. IVP is the only path forward if you do not have a current US visa. However, if you are currently in the US with a lawful visa, you may be able to choose. So, which makes more sense in your situation?

AOS is often preferred for current visa holders for several reasons. First, they don’t require you to return to your home country for a consular interview, which removes a significant financial burden. Second, the process is often more straightforward because it is handled primarily by USCIS instead of the NVC. 

However, it does have a few downsides. If you need to leave the country, you may not be permitted to re-enter unless you have an L-1 or H-1B visa. Additionally, if you do not have employment authorization, you may have to wait up to seven months before one is granted. Finally, it can take up to 24 months to approve your AOS, which may be longer than the IVP waiting periods.

In contrast, IVP may have shorter wait times for people from certain countries. Furthermore, if you have a dual-intent visa, you may be subject to restrictions that prevent you from filing your AOS, making IVP the only option. The problem is that there are many more points along the IVP process where you may have your application denied. You should always consult a skilled immigration attorney before assuming making your decision. 

Apply for Your Green Card With Litwin & Smith

Once your I-140 is approved, you can finally petition for your green card. Choosing AOS or IVP will dictate how quickly you receive your card. Don’t make the choice alone. Talk to the skilled green card lawyers at Litwin & Smith. We will help you understand these options and ensure you choose the best solution for your situation.

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