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What is Consular Processing?

Consular processing is a legal procedure used by individuals who seek to obtain a United States visa or immigrate to the United States through family sponsorship, employment, or other means. In its essence, it is the main application process for a U.S. green card when applying from outside of the United States. These applications are handled by your local U.S. embassy or consulate.

Key Takeaways

  • Consular processing is the legal process in which individuals apply for a U.S. green card from outside of the United States.
  • In these cases, green card applications are handled by the country’s U.S. Embassy or consulate.
  • Only those residing in the United States are able to use the Adjustment of Status process instead of consular processing.

Applying for a Green Card Through Consular Processing

The process of applying for a green card through consular processing involves several important steps:

  1. Determining Eligibility: Before applying for a green card, it is crucial to determine whether you are eligible through one of the immigrant visa categories that allow for consular processing. Information regarding eligibility can be found on the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or through your immigration attorney.
  2. Filing the petition: Once you have figured out which immigration category best suits your personal circumstances, it is time to submit your petition. In a family-based immigration petition, a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative must file the petition for you. Regarding employment-based immigration petitions, your U.S. employer must file the petition on your behalf.
  3. Wait for a Decision: When a decision has been made in regards to your green card application, the USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) will contact you. If your petition is approved, it will be sent to the NVC (National Visa Center) for further steps.
  4. Wait for Notification from NVC: Once your case is in the hands of the NVC, you will be notified when an immigrant visa number is about to become available. You will be notified again when you must submit the relevant fees in regards to your application.
  5. Attend the Appointment: Your consular office will reach out to schedule an interview once a visa is available. After the interview, the consular office will begin processing your case to decide if you are eligible. 
  6. Notify the NVC of Changes: If there are any significant changes in your status, such as a change of address or marital status, it is critical to contact the National Visa Center. These factors may affect your eligibility or visa availability.
  7. Present Visa Packet: If you are granted a visa, your consular officer will give you a packet of documents known as a “Visa Packet.” You should give the packet to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry once you arrive in the United States. 
  8. Receive Your Green Card: Upon paying the USCIS Immigration Fee, you will receive your green card once you arrive in the United States. If you still do not receive your green card after 90 days, contact the USCIS.

Bottom Line

It is quite clear that the process of applying for a green card through consular processing can be complex and lengthy. Working with an expert immigration attorney at Attorney At Law is a great way to ensure that the process runs smoothly and efficiently.

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