Consular Processing Assistance
Consular Processing is the process by which a beneficiary of an immigration petition (either family based or employment based) who is outside the U.S. applies for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate overseas. This process will commence only when the underlying immigration petition is approved and visa numbers for the prospective immigrant’s country are available. If the beneficiary of an immigration petition is already in the United States it may be possible for that beneficiary to apply for adjustment of status through the USCIS, or may choose to immigrate via consular processing abroad.
Adjustment of Status is a process that allows an eligible applicant to become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. without having to go abroad. Many people prefer to change their status to permanent residents within the U.S. if they can. Generally, Adjustment of Status is also desirable because it is relatively fast and denied petitions generally can be appealed. Consular petitions generally have limited appeal rights.
Step 1: File Petition with USCIS
The first step will be when a family member who is a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident files a Petition for Alien Relative, or when a United States employer files a Petition for Alien Worker. If a United States relative is currently abroad, he or she may apply at the nearest United States Consulate office.
Step 2: National Visa Center (NVC)
Once the petition is approved, the USCIS notifies the petitioner and forwards the approved petition to the National Visa Center (NVC) for further processing and to wait until an immigrant visa number becomes available.
Instruction Packet Letter for Immigrant Visa Applicants
Once the visa becomes available, the National Visa Center will send you the information you need to continue your Consular processing. The applicant is instructed to go the Department of State's website to fill out various forms and have your sponsor complete an Affidavit of Support. Other documentation is needed, such as personal information and biographical data, a request for photocopies of a valid and unexpired passport, a request for a photocopy of your birth certificate or, if applicable, your marriage license. The website will also give information about fees that will need to be paid.
Appointment Letter for Immigrant visa Applicants
After you have completed the necessary instructions from the National Visa Center, they will forward your file to the post and will send you a letter that schedules you for a Visa interview. The letter will provide you with the date, time and location of the interview, along with pertinent information about the interview process. You need to bring the appointment letter to the interview as well as any other supporting documentation that is requested. Plan on spending several hours at the consulate.
As an applicant for an immigration visa, it is required that you undergo a medical examination performed by a designated physician, who will screen for specific conditions related to your admissibility to the United States. These examinations are performed according to regulations established by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccinations are an important part of this examination process, and you will be instructed as to what records and additional vaccinations you may need in order to proceed. You will need to have this examination done prior to your visa interview, and the results will either be sent directly to the consulate by the physician, or given to you in a sealed envelope to carry with you to your interview.
Step 3: US Embassy or Consulate
During your interview, the official from the consulate will confirm your application information to determine any grounds for inadmissibility or medical issues that may preclude you from admissibility. When your visa is issued, it will be good for six months and you will need to relocate to the United States and be admitted within that period of time. If the visa is refused, you will be informed regarding the reason, including which law or regulation this decision is based upon. If the reason has to do with the lack of certain additional documents that need to be submitted, you will have a period of one year to submit any additional evidence. Once any additional material is submitted, the visa interview may be rescheduled.