Consular Processing (CP) is one way an individual may apply for an immigrant visa. Consular processing is similar to filing Adjustment of Status (Form I-485), but the applicant does not have to be physically present in the United States to file consular processing. I-485 can only be filed if the applicant is physically present in the US.
Consular processing includes an interview process which the applicant can take at a US Consulate in his or her home country.
In order to apply for consular processing, applicant's I-140 (Sample I-140 must be approved and the visa number (green card priority date) must be current.
You can apply for consular processing if:
- You are outside the US; or
- You live in the US but prefer processing at a US consulate abroad.
What are the steps in Consular Processing?
The following steps are involved in consular processing:
- You can indicate that you will opt for consular processing at the time of filing your I-140 petition ( If you specified that you will apply for Adjustment of Status (AoS) at the time of filing the I-140 and decide to go for consular processing instead, you must file Form I-824 with the USCIS. This is to request consular processing and there is a filing fee of $465 payable by check or money order)
- The USCIS will forward the information about your I-140 approval to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC will sends an Instruction Package for Immigrant Visa Applicants (Packet 3) to you when your visa number becomes available
- You and your family complete the forms in the package and return it to NVC
- NVC will process the forms
- NVC will inform the State Department Visa Office once the processing is completed and request them to allot a visa number to you and your family
- The NVC will schedule an immigrant visa processing appointment for interview that you and your family must attend. This will be at the US Consulate that issues the immigrant visa. If there is no problem, you and your family will be issued immigrant visas.
What documents are required for Consular Processing?
The following documents may be required for consular processing:
- Approved I-140 petition.
- The receipt notice for Form I-824 (only if indicating to apply for consular processing at first) or the approved notice for Form I-824 (only if later requesting consular processing)
- Evidence that your last residence was in the host country of the post
- Form DS-230: Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Part I (Biographic Information) and Part II (Sworn Statement)
- Birth Certificates : One certified copy for each person named in your application
- Police Clearance Certificate: each applicant named in your application must have a certificate from the appropriate police authority stating whatever their records show about that applicant. This certificate must cover the entire period of your stay in any area.
- Court and Prison Records - if applicable
- Updated job offer letter from your employer
- Medical Report: All applicants must pass a medical examination from one of the approved panel physicians
- Passport: all applicants' passports must be valid for at least six months beyond the visa issue date. Minor children should have their own passports
- Proof of Relationship with spouse and children: this may include marriage certificate (along with proof of termination of previous marriage, if applicable), birth certificates etc.
- Photographs: visa photographs must meet the new requirements
How much time does it take?
From the date the immigrant visa is available, an average of 5 to 13 months processing time is expected - of course, this may vary depending on the number of pending cases at that particular time.
What are the differences between Consular Processing and Adjustment of Status?
- The time frame for Consular Processing is quicker than Adjustment of Status
- Consular Processing must be done in the (foreign) country of residence or country of birth; If you apply for adjustment of status, you must reside in the United States.
- As an alien who applies for Consular Processing, you have no benefits of work permit and advance parole. Generally speaking, if you apply for AoS, you may also apply for the benefits of work permit and advance parole.
- If you apply for Consular Processing, you must appear for the interview and medical exam at the consulate of the country of last residence or country of birth; if you apply for AoS you will need to take fingerprints and Physical exam in the US. For more information about adjustment of status please click here.
Consular Processing Interview Process
All applicants for consular processing are expected to attend the interview. The NVC or the Consular Section will send Information for Immigrant Visa Applicants (Packet Four) instructing the you to gather the documents that will be necessary for the interview. This will be done before the scheduling of the interview. You must submit documents like birth and marriage certificates, biographic data, police records and affidavit of support. There will be a complete checklist of required documents in the Packet Four. There may be an Immigrant visa fees associated with this which is payable by check or demand draft.
When your case arrives at the Consular Section, and if your Green Card Priority Date is current, you will be scheduled for an interview. If you cannot make this appointment, or you know your documents will be incomplete, you should notify the Consular Section right away to be rescheduled. Appointments are scheduled approximately 5 to 6 weeks ahead. You will be notified of the scheduled appointments through the mail and should come to the Consular Office on the morning of the interview at the scheduled appointment time, bringing your passports, all relevant documentation as requested, and bank drafts to pay application and issuance fees for each person applying for a visa. Please write your name, address, and telephone number on the back of each draft. If no problems arise, immigrant visas are generally approved on the day of the application and issued later the same day.
After the paperwork and interview
If the application is approved, the person will be issued an immigrant visa, which is good for only six months. If the person does not enter the US within that period of time, the visa will expire and the opportunity to immigrate will be lost.
If the application denied
If the application is denied, the principle consular officer at the post reviews it. If the officer desires, he can get a second opinion from the State Department. However, if, after this point, the denial is upheld, there is no appeal available to the applicant.
Entering to the USA - At the Port of Entry
When entering into USA , based on this immigrant visa you don't need to fill I-94.You enter US with your immigrant visa, passport, the documents given by the consulate sealed envelope given by the consulate. At the port of entry, after your basic interview you may be taken to the immigration office at POE where immigration officer will review the document and issue a I551 stamp ( temporary green card stamp) this stamp is valid for one year. You will receive an actual plastic green card via regular mail within few months.
- DS-230 (Part I & II) Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration
- I-864 Affidavit of Support
- I-824 Application for Action on an Approved Application/Petition