What Is Consular Processing?

Did you know that there is a different processing protocol for those applying for lawful permanent resident status in the U.S., otherwise, referred to as applying for a Green Card? It is true. After a beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition has received an available visa number, there are two different ways to apply for a Green Card. For those applying within the U.S., the application for permanent resident status can be done without needing to return to a country of origin in order for processing to be completed. This is referred to as adjustment of status. For those applying outside of the U.S., however, the application pathway is referred to as consular processing.

What Is Consular Processing?

As previously stated, consular processing is available for those currently outside of the U.S. who are looking to apply for a Green Card. The process begins by determining the basis of immigration. The applicant must determine whether he or she is eligible for lawful permanent resident status. In most cases, eligibility is established through a petition filed by a family member or employer.

Once it has been determined what immigration category is the best fit, an applicant will usually need someone, such as a family member (a “resident relative”) or an employer, to file a petition on his or her behalf. Once the petition has been filed, USCIS will notify the petition as to whether or not the application has been approved. Should USCIS deny the petition, the notice will outline the reasons for the denial as well as whether the decision is appealable.

Should the petition be approved and you live outside of the U.S., USCIS will send the approved petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC). There the petition will stay until an immigrant visa number becomes available. The NVC, which is tasked with collecting visa application fees as well as supporting documentation for visa applications, will notify the petition and the beneficiary of the petition when the visa petition is received. The NVC will send out another notice when a visa number will soon be available. Additionally, the NVC will send out a notice when you have to pay immigrant visa processing fees and when you need to provide supporting documentation. You should be sure to keep the NVC updated on any relevant changes, such as your address, marital status, and when you reach the age of 21.

Once a visa number becomes available or your priority date becomes current, the consular office will proceed with scheduling an interview with you. The consular office is tasked with processing your case as well as rendering a decision as to whether you are eligible for an immigrant visa.

After your visa has been granted, the consular officer will provide you with a packet of information that you should not open. You will pay the USCIS immigrant fee. Upon arrival in the U.S., you will give your unopened visa packet to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry. Should the officer admit you, you will then have lawful permanent resident status. This means that you will be able to permanently live and work in the U.S. You will receive your Green Card in the mail after arriving in the U.S. and paying the USCIS immigrant fee.

Immigration Law Attorneys

If you should have any questions or need more information about the ways in which the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Laws may impact you, your family, your friends or your colleagues, please contact the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers at the NPZ Law Group – VISASERVE – U.S. Immigration and Nationality Lawyers by e-mailing us at info@visaserve.com or by calling us at 201-670-0006 (x104). You can also visit our Law Firm’s website at www.visaserve.com.