Consular Processing

Consular Processing

What is Consular Processing?

Consular processing is the process of applying for a green card from your home country. Consular processing involves two government entities: The National Visa Center and a Department of State Consular Office in the foreign country. If a foreign national’s immigration petition is approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), they can then begin consular processing in their home country or country of permanent residence.

The alternative process for green cards is Adjustment of Status (AOS), which is completed if you are already in the United States. The lawyers are Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. have experience in both consular processing and adjustment of status.

Who Can Apply for a Green Card with Consular Processing?

Applicants who are still in their country of origin have to use consular processing. If you are applying from outside of the United States, you will apply from abroad and wait until your application is processed.

The attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates represent clients throughout any stage of consular processing. We have experience in a variety of consular processing categories, including those described below:

Special Immigrant Religious Worker

Ministers and religious workers may file for special immigrant religious worker status to perform religious work in the U.S. in a full-time compensated capacity.

U, T, and Asylum Adjustment of Status

Immigrant victims of certain crimes (U visa) or human trafficking (T visa) may qualify for a visa that can lead to legal permanent resident (LPR) status. Similarly, asylees can apply for LPR status after one year of asylee status.

Employment-Based

Foreign nationals who are skilled and educated—and who have job offers—have the opportunity to immigrate to the U.S. In general, there are three steps in this process:

  • Employer secures a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor
  • Employer petitions U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign national
  • Foreign national applies for an immigrant visa adjustment of status or consular processing

We counsel both employers interested in hiring international personnel and foreign nationals who have received an American job offer and want to live permanently in the U.S. through consular processing.

LEARN MORE ABOUT EMPLOYMENT-BASED VISAS AND GREEN CARDS

International Adoption

International adoption is extremely complex and must comply with both U.S. laws and the laws of the child’s home country. Prospective parents must also navigate U.S. immigration laws in order to secure the child’s legal status.

LEARN MORE ABOUT INTERNATIONAL ADOPTION

Family-Based

One of the most common ways for someone to obtain an immigrant visa or LPR status is through family sponsorship. The first step is a family visa petition (I-130) that establishes the familial relationship between the foreign national and the U.S. citizen or LPR. Then, the foreign national can seek LPR status through consular processing.

LEARN MORE ABOUT FAMILY-SPONSORED VISAS

Special Immigrant Juvenile Status

Special immigrant juvenile status provides a pathway to LPR for non-citizen children who have been neglected, abused, or abandoned by one or both of their parents.

LEARN MORE ABOUT SPECIAL IMMIGRANT JUVENILE STATUS

Violence Against Women Act

The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) allows for an abused spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen or LPR to self-petition for lawful status in the U.S. VAWA is intended to protect domestic abuse survivors from losing their status in the U.S. or getting deported.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN ACT

How Do I Get a Green Card Through Consular Processing?

Consular processing requires time and commitment to the application through a variety of steps. Consular processing steps include:

Determination of Immigration

The first step is finding out if you are eligible for a green card. Your eligibility will determine whether you, a family member, or an employee petitions for you.

Filing Immigrant Petition

Once you’ve determined which green card you will apply for, you or your petitioner needs to fill out the corresponding forms. Forms for green cards are different depending on your circumstance, so it’s essential to know which forms to use for your particular application.

Once your forms are filled out (there may be multiple), you’ll send them to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for consular processing.

Petition Decision

In the next consular processing steps, the embassy or consulate reviews your application. They will let you know if you have been denied. If your petition is approved, the Department of State National Visa Center (NVC) holds onto it until your immigrant visa number is ready. When your visa is available, you will need to pay the consular processing fees and fill out the DS-260 form.

Consular Appointment

The U.S. Embassy or Consulate closest to you will contact you to schedule an interview appointment. You will need to visit a USCIS-approved medical examiner prior to your interview. Make sure to bring your passport and original documents.

Visa Granted

After your interview, you will hear back in about a week whether or not your application is approved. Upon approval, you will get a travel “visa packet.” When you enter the United States, a U.S. Border Patrol Officer will admit you into the country.

Green Card Approval

Your green card will be mailed to your United States address once you’ve entered the United States.

How Much Are Consular Processing Fees?

Consular Processing fees vary based on the green card you applied for. Some common costs are:

There are also additional fees for application processing, medical examinations, and various other costs depending on your living situation. There are many factors that contribute to consular processing fees. A consular processing attorney can help organize costs.

How Long Is the Consular Processing Time?

After your USCIS petition is approved, check the Department of State’s visa bulletin to see when your visa will be available. Visa processing times vary depending on the type of visa you apply for and the number of people applying from your country. If you’re married to a U.S. citizen, your visa will be available right away.

Consular processing time can vary from case to case but typically takes around 4 to 6 months after your visa is approved.

Because consular processing time is shorter than the AOS timeline, speak with your immigration attorney at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. to determine which process may be most advantageous for you.

How Do I Check My Consular Processing Application Status?

You can check your green card application by using the USCIS case status website. After your application has been sent to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, check your status in the U.S. Department of State’s visa status check site.

What Happens Once I’ve Received My Green Card?

You are now a U.S. green card holder! You will be able to live and work in the United States for the amount of time allotted by your particular visa. Depending on your status, you may be able to apply for U.S. citizenship.

H1B Consular Processing

If you are an H-1B visa holder already in the United States, you may still need to use Consular Processing. H1B consular processing may be applicable if:

  1. Your visa period ended, and you would like an H1-B extension
  2. Your student status and Optional Practical Training (OPT) status has expired, yet your H-1B petition was filed before your status expired. H-1B visas have a quota — if your employer petitioned before the quota opened or if the date is before your OPT expiration, you will not have visa status. In this case, you’ll need to use H-1B consular processing
  3. You resigned or were terminated from your job as an H-1B employee, you may be able to require a new H-1B through a new employer using H-1B consular processing. You will only be eligible if you are under 180 days in unlawful status

There is a high possibility that you may need to return to your country of origin to complete the consular process. If approved, you will be issued a new visa or visa extension under your new employer. Talk to your consular processing attorney for best actions to take regarding your H-1B visa. Note that the longer you stay in the United States after your visa expires, the more difficult it will be to petition for another visa.

Contact an Attorney Today

At Scott D. Pollock & Associates, we provide both individuals and employers with the high-quality and affordable representation they need to navigate the tangled web of obstacles and pitfalls that is the American immigration system.

Our attorneys have over seven decades of combined experience in U.S. immigration law. We’ve helped guide numerous clients through the complicated process of gaining immigrant visas in the U.S. through consular processing.  A consular processing attorney at our firm can help you in your process of applying for a green card. Contact a member of our team today at 312.444.1940.

We're looking forward to hearing from you!