How can you obtain lawful permanent residence through a US Embassy or Consulate abroad, commonly known as Consular Processing?
If you reside outside of the US or are ineligible to adjust your status in the US, you may be eligible to apply for lawful permanent residence at the US Embassy or Consulate in the country where you are a national. Once the USCIS approves the visa petition submitted by your relative (form I130) or employer (form I-140), the approved petition will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC).
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When your priority date is almost current, the NVC will request that you pay your government filing fees and submit the necessary paperwork for your immigrant visa interview. As soon as you comply, the NVC will forward your paperwork to the appropriate US Embassy/Consulate which will schedule you, and your spouse and children, for an immigrant visa interview as soon as your priority date is current.
After the National Visa Center (NVC) schedules your visa interview appointment, they will send you, your petitioner, and your agent/attorney (if applicable) an email noting the appointment date and time. After you receive an interview Appointment Letter from NVC, you must take the following steps BEFORE the interview date.
Schedule and Complete a Medical Examination
You (and each family member or “derivative applicant” applying for a visa with you) are required to schedule a medical appointment with an authorized physician in the country where you will be interviewed. This exam must be with an embassy-approved doctor, also referred to as the Panel Physician. Exams conducted by other physicians will not be accepted. You must complete your medical examination, along with any required vaccinations, before your scheduled visa interview date.
After your exam, the Panel Physician will either send the exam results directly to the embassy or give you a sealed envelope. If the doctor gives you an envelope, do not open it. Instead, bring it to your visa interview and give it to the consular officer.
Gather Documents Required for the Interview
Every visa applicant, no matter their age, must bring certain documents to the interview, including photographs, the original or certified copy version of all civil documents submitted to NVC. You do not need to bring your Affidavit of Support or financial evidence you submitted to NVC.
What happens if you forget to bring something on this list? The consular officer will not be able to complete the processing of your visa. You will have to gather the missing items and provide them to the embassy or consulate, and may have to come for additional interviews. Failure to bring all items on the above list can delay visa issuance.
Once your application for an immigrant visa, and any waivers which may be required, are approved, you and your family will be able to travel to the United States to seek admission for lawful permanent residence.
Green Cards Through Consular Processing is divided into the following topics:
State Department Resources – Consular Processing
- US Visas
- Immigrant Visa Process
- Immigrant Visas for Spouses/Fiancees of US Citizens
- Employment-Based Immigrant Visas
- Family-Based Immigrant Visas
- Immigrant Visas Processing – General FAQs
- DS-260 Immigrant Visa Electronic Application FAQs
- Links to US Embassies and Consulates Worldwide
- Visa News
- National Visa Center
- State Department Cable: Processing I-140 Petitions for Applicants Residing in the U.S. (9-28-00)
Consular Processing Links
- Consular Processing Information (USCIS)
- Green Card Processes and Procedures (USCIS)
- Introduction to Consular Processing (9-29-23)
- Immigration Process for RNs Residing Abroad: Consular Processing for Non-Union Hospitals (2-14-06)
- INS: Consular Processing Request (I-824) Treated as Adjustment of Status Withdrawal (8-08-00)
Success Stories – Consular Processing
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Carl Shusterman served as an INS Trial Attorney (1976-82) before opening a firm specializing exclusively in US immigration law. He is a Certified Specialist in Immigration Law who has testified as an expert witness before the US Senate Immigration Subcommittee. Carl was featured in the February 2018 edition of SuperLawyers Magazine.