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What is Consular Processing, exactly?

What is Consular Processing, exactly?

Beneficiaries of an approved immigrant petition who have an immigrant visa have two options to apply for a green card. If the beneficiary is outside the United States, they will have to apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate in their country. Upon getting the visa only then will the beneficiary be allowed to enter the U.S. as a permanent resident. This process is called Consular Processing.

Beneficiaries who are in the U.S. already, pending on their status, can apply for an adjustment of status; meaning, they need not leave the US to obtain their green card. They can also choose to return to their country and undergo consular processing.

There is a whole process to undergo before you need to think about consular processing. Initially, you need to confirm that you are eligible for a green card - through family, employment, as a refugee or asylee, a diversity visa lottery winner, or through one of other special categories.

Once you establish your eligibility, a specific petition has to be filed depending on which category you qualify under. Depending on the category you also may need someone to sponsor you for a green card. If you are eligible for a green card through a family member who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, they will have to file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on your behalf. If you are eligible through employment, your employer has to file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.

You need to file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur for yourself if you are planning to enter the U.S. as a business person making a significant investment in the country. If you are going to apply under a special category, the form to be filed is Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), and Special Immigrant.

The appropriate petition needs to be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once USCIS makes a decision on your petition you will be notified. If your petition has been approved, and if you are abroad, the approved petition will be sent to the National Visa Center, where it will remain until an immigrant visa number becomes available. The NVC will collect the visa application fees and supporting documents. Then you will have to appear at the consulate for an interview on a date scheduled by them. The consulate will decide if you are eligible for an immigrant visa.

On approval, you will be given a Visa Packet that should not be opened. When you travel to the U.S., you need to present this unopened packet at the port of entry to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer. After inspecting the packet the CBP officer will determine if you can be admitted into the U.S. as a permanent resident.

Please note, that in some cases, you may also need to file a waiver prior to commencing consular processing.

Need Counsel for Immigration? Call Today.

Immigration law can be complicated and this article does not exhaust all the information surrounding consular processing for an immigrant visa. These issues can be extremely complex, and a single misstep could potentially lead to a rejection of your application or other immigration penalties. If you have any questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Call our law firm for a consultation today at: (949) 478-4936.


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