Immigrants with a valid basis for applying for permanent residency may do so from their home countries through their local U.S. Department of State consulate. This application pathway, known as consular processing, allows petitioners to submit documentation and meet with an immigration law official to obtain lawful status before coming to the U.S. Understanding the steps involved in consular processing will help you avoid mistakes and get the legal assistance you need.
A Guide to Consular Processing
1. Submitting the Petition
Most applicants for lawful permanent resident status must have the petition submitted by someone else, either a family member or United States-based employer. If your petition is denied, USCIS will provide reasons for the rejection. However, if your petition is approved, it will be sent to the National Visa Center, which will issue an immigrant visa number for you.
2. Receiving Notification From the National Visa Center
When an immigrant visa number is available, the National Visa Center will contact you and the petitioner about the next steps in the process. At this point, you should be prepared to submit your fees and any supporting documentation required.
3. Interviewing at Your Local Consulate
Before receiving your visa, lawful permanent resident petitioners must complete an interview with an immigration law official. These interviews, conducted at the Department of State consulate in your home country, may include questions about your petition, background, and supporting documentation.
4. Receiving Your Visa
If your visa petition is approved, the immigration law officer at the consulate will give you a sealed information packet, which should not be opened. After paying the USCIS Immigrant Fee, you may leave for the United States, where a Customs and Border Patrol agent will open the packet and ask further questions. If they decide to admit you to the United States, you will have lawful permanent status and be free to obtain your green card.
As a legal team dedicated exclusively to immigration law, Berd & Klauss, PLLC in New York City has helped countless clients from around the world navigate the consular processing system. Whether you’re sponsoring a family member for permanent resident status or applying from overseas, their attorneys will deliver the insight and crucial guidance you need. Visit their website to learn how they can help with your immigrant visa petition, or call (212) 461-7152 to consult with an accomplished immigration attorney today.