Consular Processing

Consular Processing is the process by which a beneficiary of an immigration petition (either family based or employment based) who is outside the U.S. applies for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate overseas. This process will commence only when the underlying immigration petition is approved and visa numbers for the prospective immigrant’s country are available. If the beneficiary of an immigration petition is already in the United States it may be possible for that beneficiary to apply for adjustment of status through the USCIS, or may choose to immigrate via consular processing abroad.

How is the Adjustment of Status Process different than Consular Processing?

Adjustment of Status is a process that allows an eligible applicant to become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. without having to go abroad. Many people prefer to change their status to permanent residents within the U.S. if they can. Generally, Adjustment of Status is also desirable because it is relatively fast and denied petitions generally can be appealed. Consular petitions generally have limited appeal rights.

First StepsNational Visa Center

The first step taken on your behalf will be when your family member who is a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident files a Petition for Alien Relative, or when your United States employer files a Petition for Alien Worker. If a United States relative is currently abroad, he or she may apply at the nearest United States Consulate office.

Once the petition is approved, the USCIS notifies the petitioner and forwards the approved petition to the National Visa Center (NVS) for further processing and to wait until an immigrant visa number becomes available.

Instruction Packet Letter for Immigrant Visa Applicants

Once the visa becomes available, the National Visa Center will send you the information you need to continue your Consular processing. The applicant is encouraged to go the Department of State's website to fill out various forms and have your sponsor complete an Affidavit of Support. Other documentation is needed, such as personal information and biographical data, a request for photocopies of a valid and unexpired passport, a request for a photocopy of your birth certificate or, if applicable, your marriage license. The website will also give information about fees that will need to be paid.

Appointment Letter for Immigrant visa Applicants

After you have completed the necessary instructions from the National Visa Center, they will forward your file to the post and will send you a letter that schedules you for a Visa interview. The letter will provide you with the date, time and location of the interview, along with pertinent information about the interview process. You need to bring the appointment letter to the interview as well as any other supporting documentation that is requested. Plan on spending several hours at the consulate.

Medical Examination

As an applicant for an immigration visa, it is required that you undergo a medical examination performed by a designated physician, who will screen for specific conditions related to your admissibility to the United States. These examinations are performed according to regulations established by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Vaccinations are an important part of this examination process, and you will be instructed as to what records and additional vaccinations you may need in order to proceed. You will need to have this examination done prior to your visa interview, and the results will either be sent directly to the consulate by the physician, or given to you in a sealed envelope to carry with you to your interview.

Consular Interview

During your interview, the official from the consulate will confirm your application information to determine any grounds for inadmissibility or medical issues that may preclude you from admissibility. When your visa is issued, it will be good for six months and you will need to relocate to the United States and be admitted within that period of time.

If the visa is refused, you will be informed regarding the reason, including which law or regulation this decision is based upon. If the reason has to do with the lack of certain additional documents that need to be submitted, you will have a period of one year to submit any additional evidence. Once any additional material is submitted, the visa interview may be rescheduled.

Termination of Registration

The Department of State may terminate your registration if you fail to apply for a visa within one year of being notified that the visa is available.

When Should You Hire an Immigration Attorney to Assist in Your Consular Processing Matter?

As noted above, the consular process can seem overwhelming, given the complexities of the procedures, the exact legal status of a non-permanent United States resident and the documentation requirements.

For consular processing cases in particular, where appeal rights are extremely limited, a qualified immigration attorney can help. A U.S. immigration lawyer can do all the necessary work to make sure that the process runs smoothly and that the legal requirements are met without undue delay or confusion.

If you or someone you know is in need of an immigration attorney to help with consular processing of a petition, Austin, Texas immigration attorney Daniella Lyttle of the Lyttle Law Firm can help. Ms. Lyttle has helped many clients with U.S. immigration matters, and she can help determine your eligibility, advise you as to how to proceed, and handle the complicated legal steps. Furthermore, because immigration law is federal law, rather than state law, Ms. Lyttle can handle applications for citizens living in any state, not merely the State of Texas.

Because Ms. Lyttle is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese, she can communicate directly with clients in these languages, read and understand documents in these languages, and communicate with any foreign officials in these languages, if necessary.

The Lyttle Law Firm can give you and your family members peace of mind in undertaking this difficult and potentially frustrating and time-consuming task. Once hired, the Lyttle Law Firm will take over the application process from beginning to end, keeping clients informed, and taking the stress out of the process. If you need immigration help, contact the Lyttle Law Firm.