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What is consular processing?

On Behalf of | Jun 27, 2022 | Immigration

An immigrant can apply for a green card after receiving their approved immigration petition and available immigration number. Someone in the US can apply for permanent citizenship without returning to their home country. An immigrant outside the US can apply with the US Department of State consulate abroad. The second pathway is the consular processing nationwide.

Determine the basis to immigrate

A person needs to determine if they’re eligible to apply for a green card before starting the consular processing. Many immigrants become eligible after an employer or family member files a petition. Other immigrants become eligible through refugee or asylum status.

File the immigrant petition

A family-based immigration petition allows a lawful permanent resident or US resident relative to file the form. An immigrant who resides inside the consular office’s jurisdiction without a USCIS field office may have exceptions. Consular processing may start with military members or national US interests. Beneficiaries in dangerous situations or emergencies may start consular processing. Employment-based immigrant petitions allow an employer to file the form for a green card. If the immigrant is starting a business venture, they can file the form themselves. Special categories allow a person to immigrate to file as a widow, widower or special immigration status. Many humanitarian programs need extra requirements but no petition.

Waiting for a decision and notification

USCIS notifies the petitioner of the decision and gives the reasons for rejection. The National Visa Center receives approval notices for people outside of the US. The NVC notifies the petitioner and the beneficiary when they receive the approval and when their visa number is available. The NVC handles the Visa fees and documentation.

Go to the appointment

The Consular office schedules an interview once the visa is available. The consular office processes the case and makes the final decision of eligibility. People don’t need to contact NVC about the petition. Always contact NVC if the address changes, the beneficiary is now 21 or a marital status changes.

A consular officer grants an immigrant packet of information. The US Customs and Border Protection officer will inspect the beneficiary and the packet. The CBP officer admits the immigrant to allow them to live and work in the US. Once the immigrant pays the USCIS immigration fee, the office sends the green card through the mail. The green card should arrive within 45 days of paying the fee.