What is consular processing for immigration?

On Behalf of | Dec 9, 2023 | US Immigration Law

Consular processing is a term that often pops up in discussions about immigration to the United States. Simply put, consular processing is crucial for individuals outside the U.S. who want to immigrate legally. 

This involves applying for an immigrant visa through a U.S. embassy or consulate where they legally reside. Consider these points regarding consular processing:

The basics of consular processing

Consular processing is when a person applies for an immigrant visa to enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident, commonly known as getting a green card. It’s for individuals outside the United States who can’t enter the U.S. until they are issued an immigrant visa. 

Starting the process

The journey begins when a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident files a petition on behalf of a family member or when an employer files a petition for a foreign worker. In some cases, individuals may be eligible to file for themselves. Once the petition is approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, it’s transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC).

The National Visa Center’s role

The NVC’s primary job is to collect visa application fees, forms and supporting documents. The NVC schedules an interview for the applicant at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country. 

The visa interview and beyond

A consular officer conducts the interview, reviews the application, examines the documents and determines the applicant’s eligibility for a visa. If the visa is granted, the applicant receives a visa packet that they must not open. Upon arrival in the U.S., a Customs and Border Protection officer opens this packet at the port of entry.

Consular processing is a vital pathway for many aspiring immigrants to the United States. It’s a significant step towards achieving the American dream. For those looking to make the U.S. their new home, understanding and correctly navigating this process is critical to turning those aspirations into reality.