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Consular Processing

Consular processing is a method of obtaining a nonimmigrant and immigrant visa to the United States that involves applying at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside of the United States.

There are two ways to get an immigrant visa: one is to apply from outside the U.S., and the other is to apply for an Adjustment of Status if eligible while inside the United States.

Consular processing is a method of obtaining a nonimmigrant and immigrant visa to the United States

Who Should Apply Through Consular Processing?

There are several reasons why an individual may choose to process an immigrant visa at a US Consulate as opposed to applying for Adjustment of Status in the United States, including:

  1. The individual is not currently present in the United States and therefore cannot apply for Adjustment of Status.
  2. The individual is in the United States but is not eligible for Adjustment of Status due to an expired visa, violation of stay, or because they entered the country illegally.
  3. The individual has a job offer in the United States but their employer is unable to sponsor them for a visa through the Adjustment of Status process.
  4. The individual is eligible for permanent residence but wishes to apply for an immigrant visa while remaining outside the United States.

How does Consular Processing work?

To begin the consular processing process, an individual must generally obtain an approved petition for a nonimmigrant visa or for immigrant visas, first obtain a preference or family-based petition which is to be sponsored by a relative or employer in the United States or be selected in the Diversity Visa Lottery. The US system is largely based on sponsorship and thus the sponsor must file a petition on behalf of the individual with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Once the petition is approved, for nonimmigrant visas the beneficiary fills out the nonimmigrant visa form online and schedules an appointment. For immigrant visas, once the case is transferred to the National Visa Center, the individual must then pay the visa fees and complete an online visa application.  When the case is documentarily complete it is transferred to the appropriate location and an appointment for an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate is scheduled. Fingerprinting or a background check is often required as is an immigration medical exam.  It is important to note that the interview occurs at the embassy or consulate in the country where the foreign national currently or last resided.

At the interview, the individual will be required to present various documents, including a valid passport. Immigrant visa applicants must show other biographic documents such as a birth certificate, if applicable marriage and divorce papers, and often a current police clearance certificate. They will also be required to undergo a medical examination and provide evidence of financial support in the United States.

During the interview, the consular officer will determine whether the individual is eligible for a visa. If the individual is approved, they will be issued a visa and can travel to the United States. 

It is important to note that consular processing can be a lengthy process.  For immigrant visas, it is not uncommon for them to take several months or even years to complete. The individual must also be prepared to pay various fees, including the visa application fee, the medical examination fee, and any other fees required by the embassy or consulate.

There are several types of visas that can be obtained through consular processing, including:

  1. Immigrant visas, which allow the individual to permanently reside in the United States.
  2. Nonimmigrant visas, which allow the individual to temporarily visit the United States for a specific purpose, such as tourism, business, or study.
  3. Diversity visas, which are available through the Diversity Visa Lottery and allow individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States to obtain visas.

We assist you with your U.S. Visa application

What if my application is rejected?

Consular officers have strict guidelines to follow when processing green card applications, which limits their ability to use their own discretion to reject applicants. Adjustment of Status applicants have the option to file a Motion to reopen and appeal denials through the courts. Consular applicants do not have this option and if their application is rejected, it is difficult to overturn the decision.

Given the lack of an appeal system for consular processing, it is crucial to get things right the first time. Working with a trusted partner like Oltarsh & Associates, who can provide an independent lawyer to review your papers and identify potential issues, can help you avoid pitfalls in the process.

We assist you with your U.S. Visa application

It is important to note that consular processing is just one of the many steps involved in obtaining a visa to the United States. The individual must also complete various other steps, including obtaining a passport, obtaining a police clearance certificate, and completing a medical examination.

We are committed to providing you with quality legal support and representation in the modern immigration system. If you need help with your consular processing or anything else related to your immigration status, call our offices today at 212-944-9420. Oltarsh & Associates is here to serve your legal needs now and in the future.