Consular Processing – What You Need to Know
Acquiring an Immigrant Visa from a United States Embassy outside the United States can be a complicated and even a thoroughly confusing process. Immigrants who simply want to follow the letter of the law can find it fraught with twists and turns they did not anticipate – which in turn throws off their schedule and the schedules of their loved ones. To ensure a smooth transition to the United States, it’s vital to define one of the key terms in the entire process of getting a green card when you reside outside the U.S.: Consular Processing.
But what is consular processing and what does it entail? Let’s have a closer look at this vital part of the U.S. immigration process:
What is Consular Processing?
As you might guess from that word “consular,” consular processing involves the embassy or consulate in one’s respective home country. Consular processing refers to the process of acquiring an Immigrant Visa by working with the U.S. consulate or embassy near their relevant area – not the process of being issued a green card when already located in the United States. That process is referred to as adjustment of status.
Consular processing tends to refer to two different stages of the process:
• Forms and Paperwork: Submitting the proper forms and paperwork to the National Visa Center, or perhaps directly to the Embassy in certain situations, is an early step in the process. It is extremely important to get these forms right – submitting incomplete or incorrect forms can cause lengthy delays in the process and potentially even cause an application to be denied.
• In-person Interview: Attending an interview at the local embassy or consulate is a required part of the process of obtaining an Immigrant Visa. In fact, it is key to the whole idea of consular processing. You cannot skip this part, either, so it’s vital to prepare yourself for what will occur. The way you conduct yourself and the answers you provide at your interview will significantly determine whether you are issued an Immigrant Visa.
Once you understand these different steps, you’ll have a much better appreciation for everything that occurs during consular processing. But it’s also vital that you familiarize yourself with the aspects of the process most important to your successful immigration to the United States.
When Does Consular Processing Apply
In most cases, you’ll have to go through consular processing if you plan on immigrating to the United States and acquiring a green card. However, there are some instances in which an interview might take place inside the U.S. with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. This is typically in relation to the “Adjustment of Status” procedure, wherein someone already in the United States is applying for a green card.
This isn’t a “shortcut,” however. It’s simply another way to go about the immigration process in good standing with the United States government. You’ll still be expected to submit to an interview, for example – it might just be that the location of that interview has changed. This procedure can be better for those already in the United States because it simplifies the process of immigration without causing any major distractions or disruptions to a life already established in the U.S. However, please be aware that not everybody is eligible for adjustment of status.
Knowing these requirements can be important no matter where you are – in the U.S. or abroad. Immigrating to the United States can require some very special life changes if you’re unfamiliar with what to expect. That’s why it’s so important to know about consular processing and all it entails.
The Problem: Leaving the U.S. When Having Stayed Unlawfully
If you have ever stayed in the U.S. unlawfully, then consular processing may be a serious problem for you. In fact, the attempt to consular process may even lead to a 3-year or 10-year bar from returning to the U.S. Which is the exact opposite of your initial goal, which was to be issued a green card. If you had an unlawful stay in the U.S. for 180 days or more, the consulate would be required to bar you from entry to the United States for three years or more.
What should you do if you find yourself in this situation? Simple: seek out a reputable attorney. There are special exemptions granted here,, such as a Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver (I-601A), but you’ll want to know the ins-and-outs of this situation before you submit any more paperwork. That’s why it’s also vital to seek out an attorney before you go to the consulate – you may not know what you have to do to continue your immigration process, and not knowing can lead to severe consequences down the line.
Reeves Miller Zhang & Diza – Full-Service Immigration Law
If this all sounds very complicated and intimidating, that’s because that’s exactly how the process can be. So you’re not alone. But what’s important to remember is that you have to approach immigration in the right way if you’re going to have success. Don’t simply walk into a consulate without knowing anything. Instead, seek out the right information before you take action. This alone can save you years of headaches down the road.
It’s also important to know what forms you need to fill out, and when. That’s why it can be difficult navigating the road of U.S. immigration alone. We recommend that you continue reading our site to better understand why you might want to hire an attorney to help you along the way – navigating the ins-and-outs of U.S. immigration in the right way. Doing so will lead to the best possible solution and potentially even end up with a green card in your hands.