For people seeking to live or work in the United States who are currently residing in another country, their application for legal permanent residency must go through a procedure known as consular processing. While every application is different, there are some typical steps that most cases go through, which are explained below.
There is a lot of confusing information out there about immigration, and a qualified immigration lawyer can help you avoid serious mistakes in your application. We recommend contacting an attorney before you apply.
Receiving a green card through consular processing usually requires you to be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. The sponsor must be a close relative, spouse, or employer. Sverdloff Law Group can work with this person in the U.S. to coordinate your application.
Family-based immigrant petitions are the most common, followed by employer-based. However, there are also special categories and humanitarian programs that allow immigrants to apply under other circumstances. Your attorney can advise you on which type of application is best for your situation.
There can often be delays and obstacles in the application process and submitting the most complete application possible is important for avoiding further delays. Your legal team will help you gather the evidence that must be submitted with your application.
The sponsor will submit the completed immigrant petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and wait for a decision. USCIS may ask for additional documentation at this time.
Once the immigrant petition is approved and a visa number is available, the National Visa Center (NVC) will contact the sponsor, also called the petitioner, and notify them of when to submit processing fees and supporting documentation.
The consular office will then schedule your interview. Original versions of your application documents may need to be presented to the consular office at this time. If information such as your marital status or address changes after the interview, you will need to notify the NVC.
If your visa is granted, the consular office will provide you with a packet of information known as a Visa Packet. Do not open the packet. You will also be required to pay an immigrant fee, and it is recommended that you do this before departing your home country.
When you arrive at a port of entry in the United States, you’ll give your Visa Packet to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). A CBP officer will then inspect the documents and admit you as a lawful permanent resident.
Your green card should be sent to your U.S. address within 45 days of arriving in the country. If you haven’t paid the immigrant fee to the USCIS, you will need to do so before the green card is sent to you.
The U.S. immigration process can be intimidating, but there is help available. Sverdloff Law Group is dedicated to helping individuals, couples, and families start their lives together in America. For assistance with consular processing or another immigration matter, contact our office today.
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