Consular processing is one of two paths for obtaining an immigrant visa to the United States. The second path is adjustment of status. For applicants outside the U.S., consular processing is the only path for immigrating to the U.S.
Consular processing implies that a person intending to immigrate to the United States goes to a U.S. embassy or Department of State (DOS) consular office in his or her home country to complete the application for a green card (lawful permanent residence).
Consular processing, or “visa interview” can be thought of as the second step of the green card application process. The first step is an approved immigrant visa petition such as a family petition, an employment-based visa petition, being selected in the diversity visa lottery, or another visa category.
While the time needed for consular processing varies from case to case, it can be expected that the process will be completed in 4 to 6 months once the petition is approved and the applicant has been issued a visa number. This way, consular processing abroad is faster and easier than the adjustment of status process in the United States.
Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC)
USCIS will send the approved petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC), and it will remain there until there is an availability of an immigrant visa number for you, based on your position on the green card waiting line. You can see a complete list of priority and availability dates on the USCIS official website.
Once the immigrant visa number is about to become available, the National Visa Center will notify you. The notification will also include the details of items you will need to submit and when you are expected to submit them. In addition, it will include the immigrant visa processing fees you are to pay. Your required supporting documentation will depend on the green card category you are pursuing.
Attend Consular Visa Interview
The last step in obtaining your visa is to attend an visa-interview with a U.S. consular official. You’ll receive written notification of your interview date. The interview is an opportunity for the U.S. government to verify the contents of your application after you’ve sworn to tell the truth. It will check your medical, criminal, and financial records to see whether you’re inadmissible.
In most cases, you will need to bring the following items to your interview appointment:
- A valid passport and any old or expired passports
- Your photograph according to the Department of State requirements.
- The receipt of your DS-160 or DS-260 fee payment
- Evidence of your qualification for the visa or green card sought
- Resume or CV (for employment-based cases)
Because of some security reasons, you might not be approved at the interview itself. If all goes well, you will be asked to return to the consulate to pick up your immigrant visa. Please note that you can use it to enter the United States for a limited time.
Colorado Immigration Attorneys at Murad & Murad have extensive experience in this area of U.S. Immigration Law. To schedule a consultation, please call 303-449-5535.