What is Consular Processing?

Insight from an Cupertino Immigration Attorney

There are two routes by which a foreign national may pursue a green card and the status of lawful permanent resident of the United States: Adjustment of Status and Consular Processing. Adjustment of status is most often used in cases where the individual is already present in the U.S. after being inspected and admitted on a nonimmigrant visa or after being paroled into the United States by a U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer.

Consular processing, on the other hand, is used in cases where the individual is either not eligible or elects not to pursue Adjustment of Status. In other cases, they may choose this path if they are still living abroad.

If you are interested in pursuing this option, you need to speak with a Cupertino immigration lawyer as soon as possible. Reach out to the firm today to set up a consultation.

Advantages of Consular Processing

A non-citizen who wishes to immigrate to the United States generally must have a sponsor who is either a qualifying family member or an employer. Typically the sponsor must file an immigrant visa petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

If the non-citizen is outside the United States when USCIS approves the immigrant visa petition or is inside the U.S. and elects to consular process, the approved petition will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). Once the non-citizen, now the beneficiary of the immigrant petition, has a current priority date and an immigrant visa is available, NVC will send the beneficiary instructions to pay the costs associated with processing the immigrant visa and inform the beneficiary to complete and submit the immigrant visa application and Affidavit of Support to NVC.

Once these steps have been completed, the following will take place:

  1. The file will be forwarded to the consular post
  2. Interview for the immigrant visa will be scheduled
  3. A consular officer will review the beneficiary's application for visa eligibility
  4. The interview will be conducted and a determination of admissibility made
  5. The visa application will be either approved or denied

The result of a successful case of consular processing is that the beneficiary of the approved petition is granted an immigrant visa which enables them to enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident. The person's green card will then be mailed to their new home address in the U.S.

When should I consular process?

Usually people consular process because they are not already in the United States or because they are not eligible or choose not to pursue adjustment of status. In some cases, consular processing can be more cost effective and lead to faster issuance of a green card.

Consular processing also carries risks for those persons who, by leaving the United States, would trigger a statutory bar to reentry, thereby making them inadmissible and ineligible to receive an immigrant visa without a waiver. In most cases it may be preferable to seek adjustment of status for those in this situation.

Whether you need help with family or business immigration, contact the Law Office of Timothy D. Widman for help from a Cupertino immigration attorney with years of experience.