The term “consular processing” refers to the way in which an individual may acquire a certain immigration status in the U.S. For example, in the context of family-based immigration, a foreign national with an approved immigrant petition who has an immigrant visa number immediately available may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States and be admitted as a permanent resident. Therefore, “consular processing” is the method by which an individual has his or her visa processed at an overseas U.S. Consulate.
Consular processing is in contrast to another method of obtaining a certain immigration status, which is called adjustment of status (“AOS”). If an individual is already in the United States, that individual may apply for AOS to obtain permanent resident status without having to return to his/her home country to obtain a visa.
First, once you determine that you have a basis to immigrate to the U.S., you must file the immigrant petition that corresponds to your basis of immigration. For example, if your basis of immigration is through a family-member, that family-member will have to file Form I-130 on your behalf.
Second, you must wait for USCIS to make a decision on your (or your family-member’s) petition. For each immigrant petition there are differing requirements and evidentiary burdens to meet. Be very careful to file the petition correctly; an incorrectly filed petition will be denied by USCIS, and the filing fees are nonrefundable. Many people choose to hire an immigration lawyer to handle their petitions for this reason, since there is a greater likelihood of having to file a petition only once.
Third, after your petition is approved, the National Visa Center (“NVC”) will notify you when your visa is about to become available, and of other potential requirements.
Fourth, when you are notified that a visa is available, attend your scheduled visa interview at the U.S. Consulate. It is important to be absolutely truthful with the Consular Officer who interviews you; if you lie, you will be found ineligible for a visa, which may require a waiver to overcome. If at the interview you answer a question falsely by mistake and then realize the mistake, tell the Consular Officer immediately, and correct your answer. This is called a “timely retraction” and may make the difference between your visa being granted or not.
Fifth, when your visa is granted you will receive a “visa packet.” Do not open this packet! When you arrive in the U.S., the Customs and Border Protection officer will open this packet to determine if you are admissible. Once you enter the U.S. through this method, you are a Lawful Permanent Resident, which allows you to permanently live and work in the U.S. Your green card should be mailed to you within 30 days of your arrival.
Genesis Law Firm assists individuals from all over the world in consular processing. Please contact us so we may determine if you would benefit from, or are eligible for a visa using the consular process. We provide free Mandarin Chinese interpretation upon request. Please read our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.