The green card application process varies depending on whether you reside in the United States or live abroad. If you are presently in the country, you can simply apply to adjust your status. However, if you are abroad, you must go through consular processing.
Understanding consular processing and how it works
Consular processing is the process of obtaining a green card through a U.S. embassy or your home country’s consulate. This process is necessary for those living outside of the United States, as they cannot adjust their status within the country.
Initiating the consular processing
The first step in initiating consular processing is submitting Form I-140 or Form I-130 to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) via mail or online. The USCIS officers will forward these documents to the National Visa Center (NVC) officers, who will then provide instructions on how to proceed, like paying the necessary fees and submitting biographic data forms and other supporting evidence for your application. When satisfied, the NVC will send forms such as DS-260 (Immigrant Visa Application) and I-864 (Affidavit of Support) to the applicant for completion.
Waiting for a decision
After submitting all the completed forms, they will undergo a thorough review by the NVC before they forward them to the appropriate consular post. Following this, the consular post will issue an appointment letter to the applicant, providing detailed instructions on scheduling a visa interview.
Passing the interview and the steps after approval
During the interview, consular officers will review the applicant’s documents and ask questions to determine their eligibility for an immigrant visa. If approved, the applicant will receive a packet containing their immigrant visa and instructions on how to enter the United States. From there, they can arrange travel plans and complete additional steps, such as obtaining a medical examination.
While meticulous, the consular process ensures that individuals’ movement to the U.S. occurs in the most secure and orderly manner possible. Each segment of the process, from initiating the application to passing the interview, is a critical milestone leading you closer to settling in the United States. As such, adequate preparation and adherence to instructions are key to a successful outcome.