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When Is Consular Processing Required for Immigrants to the U.S.?

 Posted on January 18, 2024 in Immigration

Blog ImageFor people who wish to immigrate to the United States, there are several paths that can be taken. One common method is through a process known as consular processing. This refers to the process by which immigrants obtain their immigrant visas at a U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country before entering the United States. An experienced immigration attorney can provide guidance to people who are applying for visas and Green Cards, helping them complete the application process and ensuring that they will be prepared for consular processing and receive authorization to come to the U.S.

Who Needs to Go Through Consular Processing?

Consular processing is typically required for two main categories of immigrants:

  • Family-based immigrants: A family member of a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident (Green Card holder) may be eligible for an immigrant visa through family sponsorship. In cases where the immigrant is currently living in a country other than the United States, consular processing will be necessary.

  • Employment-based immigrants: Immigrants who are planning to come to the United States after receiving sponsorship from an employer may apply for different types of visas. If they are located outside the U.S., they can complete consular processing and receive authorization to enter the country and begin working.

The Steps Involved in Consular Processing

The process of consular processing typically involves the following steps:

  • Petition approval: In family-based immigration cases, a sponsoring relative must first file an I-130 petition on an immigrant’s behalf. In employment-based immigration cases, a sponsoring employer must file an I-140 petition. Once a petition has been approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC).

  • National Visa Center processing: The NVC will collect the necessary documents and fees from an immigrant, and it will notify them when a visa is about to be available. 

  • Interview at U.S. embassy or consulate: Once a visa is available, an interview will be scheduled. At this interview, a consular officer will review the application and supporting documents, ask questions about an immigrant’s background and their intentions for coming to the United States, and determine whether they are eligible for an immigrant visa.

  • Entry to the United States: If a consular officer approves the visa, the immigrant will receive a visa packet. They will present this packet to a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officer when they arrive at a port of entry to the United States. After being inspected by CPB and approved for entry to the country, they will be able to receive a Green Card and live in the U.S. permanently.

The Benefits of Consular Processing

While undergoing consular processing may seem like a lengthy and complex process, it offers several benefits for immigrants, including:

  • Faster Green Card approval: In many cases, consular processing can be faster than other methods such as adjustment of status. This means that immigrants who opt for consular processing may receive their Green Cards sooner.

  • Certain eligibility criteria: Sometimes, a person may only be eligible to enter the United States through consular processing. For example, if a person had previously overstayed a visa or worked illegally in the United States, but they qualify for a waiver of inadmissibility, consular processing may be necessary before they can re-enter the U.S.

  • Less risk of denial: By going through the consular process in a person’s home country, they may have more time to review and prepare a visa application and the supporting documentation. This can minimize the chances of errors or omissions that could result in a denial.

Contact Our Charlotte, NC Consular Processing Lawyers

If you are considering immigrating to the United States through family sponsorship or sponsorship from an employer and you are currently living in another country, consular processing will likely be required. It is important to understand the steps involved in this process and you will need to gather all necessary documentation and complete other legal requirements. At Vasquez Law Firm, PLLC, our experienced Raleigh immigration attorneys can guide you through this complex process. We will work to address any issues you may encounter, ensuring that you will be able to resettle in the United States successfully. Contact us at 1-844-YO-PELEO to set up a free consultation today.

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