Consular processing is one pathway to obtaining permanent resident status in the U.S. Generally available to those who have an approved immigration petition and an available immigrant visa number, consular processing is an alternative to the adjustment of status process for individuals who are not already in the U.S.

Below is a simplified overview of how consular processing usually proceeds.

How Consular Processing Works

US Visa & Permanent Resident cards
US Visa & Permanent Resident cards

Consular processing usually proceeds as follows:

  1. Eligibility for consular processing is determined & the petition is filed – The applicant will have to figure out his or her “immigrant category,” meaning whether (s)he is eligible for a green card via a relative, an employer, refugee or asylum status, etc. Once the category has been determined, the appropriate party (e.g., the relative, employer, etc.) will need to complete and submit the petition on the applicant’s behalf to the consulate.
  2. A decision regarding the petition is issued – USCIS officials will review the petition to evaluate whether the applicant is eligible to move forward with the green card application process. If not, the applicant will be notified of the denial, as well as the reasons for the denial. If an approval is granted, however, a notification will also be sent, and the applicant will then be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC), where it will be held until a visa number is available.
  3. The National Visa Center sends notifications regarding the petition/priority date – Once the application is received – and again when the visa number is about to become available, the NVC will notify the petitioner. Notifications will also be sent when processing fees are due, as well as when it’s time for the petitioner to send in any necessary supporting documents for the application.
  4. The interview takes place – Once the interview occurs, officials at the consular office will finish processing the petition and will issue a decision regarding the requested status chance.
  5. A Visa Packet will be sent to the applicant – If the application is approved, the NVC will send the applicant a Visa Packet, which should remain sealed until the applicant arrives in the U.S. (at which time the packet should be given to the U.S. Customs & Border Protection officer at the port of entry). Following a review of this packet and confirmation of its validity, the applicant will be allowed to enter the U.S. and live/work in America permanently.
  6. The Green Card will be sent to the applicant – This should occur within 45 days of arriving in the U.S. If it doesn’t, applicants should contact USCIS to look into the possible issue(s).

Contact a Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.

Do you need help securing a green card – or resolving any immigration issues? If so, you can turn to a Los Angeles immigration lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.

To learn more about our citizenship, immigration and deportation defense services contact us today by calling (626) 684-3712 or (866) 227-5527 or by emailing us using the form at the upper right-hand side of the screen. From our office in Pasadena, we serve clients throughout the Los Angeles area, across the state of California and from around the world.