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How does consular processing work?

On Behalf of | Nov 5, 2015 | Citizenship

When seeking permanent residency status, there are a couple of different ways in which this can be achieved. Consular processing is one of them. Those who qualify for consular processing do not currently reside in the country, but do have an approved immigrant petition and an assigned visa number. Those wishing to enter the United States, in California or elsewhere, can apply for their visas at U.S. consulates abroad.

When submitting an application for consular processing, it is important to list the appropriate immigrant category for one’s situation. This category simply describes one’s basis for entering the country. The different categories are family, employment, humanitarian and special classes. There are certain exceptions that may be made for varying circumstances.

After an application has been submitted, the petitioner will have to wait for approval or denial. A final decision will be sent to a filer in writing. If an application is approved, the paperwork is generally forwarded to a National Visa Center which is responsible for collecting fees and preparing the visa. While this is taking place, an interview will be scheduled by the consular office, wherein a final decision to grant a visa will be made. Again, if approved, a visa packet will be provided, which must then be given to a Customs and Border Protection officer upon entry into the United States.

If everything is approved, after arriving in the United States, a green card should be issued within 30 days. If, for whatever reason, consular processing applications are denied, it is possible to appeal such decisions. An immigrantion attorney can assist those currently residing in California or elsewhere, or those wishing to enter the United States, with consular processing applications and any issues that may arise when using this way to apply for residency status.

Source:, “Consular Processing“, Accessed on Oct. 31, 2015