Consular processing is one method that may be utilized by an immigrant to achieve permanent residency. This process is described in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). This method requires that the individual receive an approved immigrant petition and has an immigrant visa number immediately available.
If the immigrant meets these requirements, he may then apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa. This visa will allow him to come to the U.S. and be accepted as a permanent resident.
The alternative method for achieving permanent residence is through adjustment of status. Generally, this is to be used for individuals who are currently in the U.S. It provides for the immigrant to avoid having to return to his home country in order to complete the processing.
In addition to meeting the basic requirements needed to be considered for consular processing, an individual must also take a series of steps in order to properly apply:
- Determine Your Basis to Immigrate: You must first decide which, if any, category you fit in regarding permanent residence. Many will fit into the category that involves petitioning on your behalf through an employer or family member. Others will first obtain refugee or asylum status.
- File the Immigrant Petition: Once your category has been determined, your petition can be filed on your behalf.
- Wait for a Decision on Your Petition: Once your petition has been filed, you will be notified of a decision from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If your application is denied, you will be notified as to how you may go about appealing the decision.
- Wait for Notification from the National Visa Center (NVC): The NVC is in tasked with the job of collecting visa application fees and any related documentation. The NVC is also responsible for notifying both the petitioner and beneficiary as to when the visa petition has been received and when an immigrant visa number becomes available. It will also alert the petitioner to any further fees that are required in conjunction with the application.
- Go to Your Appointment: An appointment will be scheduled for an interview after a visa is available.
- Notify the NVC of any Changes: Generally, all contact will be initiated by the NVC. However, if you experience any change regarding your personal circumstances, you must contact the NVC.
- After Being Granted the Visa: If you receive a visa, you will be provided with a packet of information known as a “visa packet.” This packet contains personal and official documentation.
- Receiving Your Green Card: Typically, your green card will be sent to you through the mail and should come within 30 days of your arrival in the U.S.
Contact an Attorney
As you can see, there are many requirements and provisions related to consular processing. It is in your best interest to work with an experienced immigration attorney who will help you begin and complete this difficult process. The professionals at The Law Offices of Matthew H. Green are available to help you with your immigration needs.