What is consular processing?

green card

If you wish to live and work permanently in the U.S., you must apply for a green card. Once the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has approved you as a beneficiary of an immigration petition and an immigrant visa number becomes available, you can pursue two legal pathways to apply for lawful permanent resident status, otherwise known as a green card. However, the legal pathway you can pursue depends on whether you are outside of the U.S. or already residing in the country. If you are applying for lawful permanent resident status in the U.S., contact our adept Essex County Green Card Attorneys, who can help navigate the complexities of this legal process. Please continue reading to learn about consular processing. 

Who is permitted to apply through consular processing?

As mentioned above, there are two legal pathways those seeking a green card can pursue to obtain lawful permanent resident status in the U.S. If you are in the U.S., you can apply for a green card without returning to your country of origin. This pathway is referred to as adjustment of status. If you are outside of the U.S., you may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad to obtain an immigrant visa allowing you to come to the U.S. and be admitted as a permanent resident. This pathway is referred to as consular processing. Ultimately, the path you can take depends on where you are applying from.

When determining your basis for immigration, only those already qualified for lawful permanent resident status can apply through consular processing. That said, eligibility hinges on whether you have an approved immigration petition filed on your behalf by a family member or employer, obtaining refugee or asylum status, or through other special categories.

What happens after my petition is approved?

Once your immigration petition is approved and your visa is available, the consular office will notify you and schedule an immigration interview. During your interview, a USCIS officer will ask you various questions to verify that you are eligible for a green card and determine whether the information you have provided them with on your application is accurate.

If you are granted an immigrant visa, the consular office will provide the following steps and give you a “Visa Packet.” After receiving the packet, you must pay a USCIS immigrant fee that is used to produce your green card. Do not open your Visa Packet as you must hand it off once you arrive in the U.S. You will give it to the U.S. Customs Border Protection (CBP) officer, and they will determine whether you can enter the country. If admitted, you can permanently reside and work in the U.S.

If you are applying for a U.S. green card, contact a proficient attorney from the Law Offices of Christopher T. Howell, Esq. Our firm is committed to helping clients understand their eligibility for consular processing and obtain lawful permanent resident status in the U.S.