Consular Processing is when a person seeking to become a legal permanent resident (LPR) goes to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate to adjust outside of the U.S., in their country of origin. It is available to people residing both within and outside of the U.S.
Consular Processing is a multi-step process that may seem daunting to some, but can be overcome with the correct assistance. Typically, when a person within the country is attempting to become an LPR, they will go through the Adjustment of Status process however, that process may not be readily available to many people, especially if the applicant has entered the country illegally. Consular can be broken down into two or three phases, depending where the applicant is applying from. Initially, an applicant must have a petition filed by the applicant’s immediate family member that is a U.S. Citizen or LPR over the age of 21 (such as a spouse or Parent) or an I-140 filed by the applicant’s employer, amongst others.
Once the initial petition has been approved by USCIS, it is then forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). There it will remain until a visa number becomes available depending on their preference category. However, all other petitions have a limited number of visas available a year and are given a priority date. If the applicant is outside of the United States, they move on to the final phase. All Applicants must submit a DS-260 application along with various civil documents such as birth and marriage certificates, in addition to an I-864 Affidavit of Support filed by the petitioner. The I-864 explains that the petitioner has the ability to help financially support the applicant. They will then receive an interview appointment once the applicant’s visa is available or priority date is current.
However, if the applicant has lived in the U.S. unlawfully for one year, there is an additional step. They must complete an I-601A, Application for Provisional Unlawful Presence Waiver. This waiver is necessary to waive the time the applicant has been within the U.S. illegally. In order to be able to complete an I-601A waiver, the applicant must have a qualifying relative (QR) that will experience various hardship if the applicant is made to remain out of the country for an extended period of time.
A QR for I-601A purposes must be a U.S. Citizen or LPR parent or spouse. It is important NOT to confuse a petitioner for the I-130 and QR for I-601A. Every QR can be a petitioner, but not every petitioner can be a QR. With the I-601A waiver, the applicant must gather financial, medical, educational and other civil documents to demonstrate the hardship the QR will experience without the applicant. Additionally, the they must provide a declaration explaining how they will suffer hardship by BOTH remaining in the U.S. AND relocating with the applicant to the country of origin. Once the waiver is approved, the applicant can move on to the final phase of Consular Processing.
The final phase is attending the interview at the U.S embassy or consulate in the applicant’s home country, where it will be determined if the applicant is eligible for an immigrant visa. If approved, the applicant will receive a sealed packet and must pay an Immigrant Fee. This fee is used to process the aforementioned packet and produce the green card. The packet is presented to the Customs officer upon returning to the U.S. Once admitted, the applicant is a legal permanent resident and will receive the physical card within 45 days of their arrival.
If you or someone you know is interested in pursuing the Consular Process please call our offices for an appointment today. We have a dedicated consular team with a very high success rate. It may be scary for some clients to have to leave the country, but we will do everything we can to get you, or your loved one, status. Together we will find the way.