Adjustment of Status vs. Consular Processing
After you have an approved family petition and there is a visa number available, the next step is determining whether the beneficiary of the approved petition can Adjust Status in the United States, or will the beneficiary have to process the immigrant visa through the U.S. consulate outside of the United States.

Some Beneficiaries Must Consular Process
Intending immigrants who are already overseas are expected to consular process. Some beneficiaries have attempted to enter the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program, or using a tourist visa, thinking that they will then be able to adjust status. However, VWP entrants are (with only a few exceptions) prohibited from applying to adjust status. Using a tourist visa with the intent of entering the U.S. in order to apply for a green card is considered visa fraud, and may make you ineligible for the green card or for any other visa or U.S. entry.

Beneficiaries who are already in the U.S., but do not have a valid admission in the U.S. will likely be required to exit the United States and complete their visa process through a U.S. consular post (exception exists for those who submitted their approvable petition before April 30, 2001 and fall under INA 245(i)). Upon exiting, these intending immigrants may trigger a bar from returning to the U.S. (up to 10 years). This would require a waiver to be filed. There are waivers available and depending on the specifics of each case may be filed stateside or must be filed from outside the United States. You do not want to leave the U.S. without fully consulting with an experienced attorney to inform you of all the risks and possibilities that can happen at the U.S. consular post.

Schedule a full consult with an experienced attorney to discuss whether you can adjust status or you need to process through a U.S. consulate.