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Consular processing is the procedure of applying for an immigrant visa (green card) through a U.S. embassy or consulate in a foreign country. If the applicant is outside the U.S., the only path for immigrating to the U.S. is to use consular processing.

Before seeking to consular process, it is important to determine the basis of your eligibility to consular process and anticipate any potential legal hurdles that you may face throughout the process. An experienced Miami based immigration lawyer like those at The Law Office of George K. Gomez can custom-tailored a plan of action for you, anticipating and addressing any legal issues to provide you the best course of action for successful consular processing.


Consular processing is a multi-step process, and it is important to understand each step, and the potential legal pitfalls an applicant may face during the process.



Step 1: Determine the Basis to Immigrate


Before you seek to consular processing, you must determine the specific immigrant category you fit into. Generally, individuals are eligible to consular process based on immediate relative petitions, family preference petitions, or through employment-based petitions. Investment based petitions are yet another option through which one can consular process. Determining your basis of eligibility is a critical step in consular processing as it dictates what immigration forms need to be filed and how the overall process will unfold.


Step 2: Filing the Immigrant Visa Petition


Once a basis to immigrate is determined, the next step in consular processing is filing the underlying immigrant visa petition. In family based and preference-based visa cases, this is Form I-130. Employment based eligibility requires Form I-140. Investment based visa cases would require Form I-526. Special circumstances such as petitions filed by widow(er)s of U.S. Citizens would utilize Form I-360. The correct immigration forms must be filed in order to properly proceed with consular processing.


Step 3: A Decision is Made on the Underlying Petition


USCIS will issue a decision on the immigration visa petition and notify the petitioner of the outcome decision. If the petition is denied, the Petitioner has the right to appeal the decision with the Administrative Appeals Office of USCIS.


If the petition is approved, USCIS will forward the approved petition to the National Visa Center (NVC). This is the case whether or not you are living outside of the United States or whether you are living within the United States but chose to apply for your immigrant visa through consular processing.


Step 4: National Visa Center (NVC) Processing


The underlying basis to immigrate will determine whether an immigrant visa is immediately available or whether you will have to wait for a visa to become available. Once available, you will have to pay all required fees, submit Form DS-260, and submit all supporting documentation. Once your case is documentarily qualified, NVC will transfer your case to your designated consulate for your consular interview.


Step 5: Attend Your Consular Interview


The consular or embassy will interview the applicant and determine whether the applicant is eligible for an immigrant visa and whether or not there are any inadmissibility concerns such as criminal convictions, public charge, or health grounds of inadmissibility. The consular official may request a waiver of admissibility at this stage.


Step 6: A Decision is Made on the Immigrant Visa


One of the last steps of consular processing is the decision on the immigrant visa by the embassy or consulate. If approved, the applicant will be provided with sealed envelope known as a visa packet. The applicant should not open this packet as they will be required to provide the sealed documents to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) upon entering the United States. CBP will review these documents and determine if you are eligible to enter the U.S. If admissible, you will be admitted to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident.


Step 7: Order Your Lawful Permanent Resident Card (Green Card)


In order to receive your physical Green Card, you must pay an Immigrant Visa fee to USCIS. Once you have paid the required Immigrant Visa Fee to USCIS, you should receive your Green Card at your designated residence in the U.S. within 45 days of payment.

Consular processing can be a challenging endeavor, especially if the intending immigrant has inadmissibility concerns. Mistakes can frequently lead to delays and denials, keeping you and your loved ones apart. Given these considerations, it is recommended that you involve an experienced immigration lawyer in the process.


Contact The Law Office of George K. Gomez for Your Consular Processing Needs!


Strong legal representation by a consular processing lawyer can make the difference between success and failure. Call (305) 539-0991 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation with me. We are located in Miami Lakes, Florida and are available for consultations by phone, by zoom, or in person.

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What Our Clients Say

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Kayla G.

I have worked with Attorney Gomez on two separate cases and I can’t recommend him enough. He is always available by phone or email, takes his time to ensure I understand what is happening in my case, and goes above and beyond for his clients. I will definitely reach out to Attorney Gomez for my future legal needs and recommend him to anyone looking for an honest and trustworthy attorney.

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