Green Cards and Consular Processing

Consular processing is the steps that immigrants must take to get their Green Cards if they currently reside outside of the United States. It refers to negotiating immigration through a foreign consulate of the United States and processing one’s immigration application.

Immigrants who have already gained their Green Cards, but who are looking to renew or replace their Green Cards while outside of the US should use an entirely different process.

Below are the steps suggested by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services for consular processing.

Immigration Petitions

An immigration petition is effectively a document asking the United States government if you can come to the United States to live permanently.

There are a number of different classes or categories in which you can apply for immigration including:

  • Immigration by family
  • Immigration by employment
  • Refugee status
  • Or Special immigration.

Regardless of which category you choose, you will still need to have a person in the United States file a petition for you at the USCIS office in the US.

Notification from the National Visa Center

When a visa petition is filed, there is a field on the receipt form which is called the priority date. This is effectively your place in line for immigration. If there are wait times you will have to wait until your priority number is up.

A priority number is considered up when the priority date is before the delay date of that visa on the State Department’s visa bulletin.

The National Visa Center will notify both the petitioner and the beneficiary of when the petition is received, when it is granted and when they are to attend the Immigration interview. It is very important to keep in touch with the National Visa Center during this time and inform them of any changes in your application.

Immigration Interview Appointment

After the priority date of the petition becomes current the National Visa Center will schedule an interview for you. The purpose of this interview is to give an immigration officer the chance to make sure that you are eligible for a visa.

It is important to bring supporting documentation for your application to this interview. This may include your passport, birth certificate, employment letters, petition receipts, and translations of those documents. All translations must include the original copy and the translation as well as an affidavit from the translator.

Receiving Your Green Card

If you are granted a visa, you will be given a visa package. This package of documents will be sealed and you cannot open it. When you arrive at a US port of entry the immigration officers there will open the package and examine your eligibility to enter the United States yet again.

After being admitted to the United States you will be sent your Green Card in the mail.