Once your I-130 is approved, and your priority date is current, you are eligible to apply for your lawful permanent residency. If you are in the United States, you may be eligible to apply for adjustment of status, but if not then you’ll consular process. Consular processing means that you are applying for a benefit at a consulate or embassy abroad.
The National Visa Center
The consular process begins with the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC is the clearinghouse, or the bridge, between USCIS in the United States, and the consulates abroad.
Typically the NVC will make contact with an applicant via email by sending them a ‘fee bill’ and their consular case number. Once you have the fee bill you can pay the consular fees online; the current fees are $325 for the DS-260 and $120 for the I-864. Once you pay these fees, you can file form DS-260, form I-864, and your civil documents.
The DS-260 is the actual application for the immigrant visa (the visa that will allow you to enter the United States as a lawful permanent resident). This application is filed online, electronically, at https://ceac.state.gov/IV/Login.aspx. The DS-260 gathers a lot of biographical information relating to you, your spouse, children, employment and address history, and immigration history.
If you did not have an attorney for the I-130 application, you should consult with one before filing the DS-260, particularly if you believe that you’ll need a waiver of a ground of inadmissibility.
Civil Documents & I-864, Affidavit of Support
After you file the DS-260, you will file form I-864 and your civil documents. Depending on the consulate, you will either send these documents to the NVC via mail, or you will upload them to the CEAC website and submit them electronically. When the NVC contacts you with your consular case number, they will notify you as to your method of submission.
I-864, Affidavit of Support
The I-864 is the Affidavit of Support; the Petitioner files this on behalf of the Beneficiary (intending immigrant). If the Petitioner does not earn 125% of the poverty level, they may need a joint sponsor. In some cases, the Petitioner can use their assets, a household member’s assets, or the intending immigrant’s assets, to bridge the deficit in earnings. The I-864 can be complicated; if you have questions, you should consult an attorney prior to filing.
Along with form I-864, you’ll send in copies of your civil (or biographical) documents. Documents typically include birth and adoption records, marriage and divorce records, court and prison records, military records, copies of passports, and police clearance letters. Required documents will vary by country depending on the availability of records. Consult the Department of State’s immigrant visa page to determine which documents are required for each country.
You’ll submit copies of civil and biographical documents to the NVC, but you’ll bring the originals plus a copy to the interview. The officer will ask you questions from your DS-260, and if your application is approved s/he will take your passport and return it to you via mail with an immigrant visa stamp inside.
After the Interview
If your application is approved, your passport will be returned to you via mail to a DHL facility. Your immigrant visa documents will be returned to you in a sealed envelope that a U.S. Customs and Border agent will open at a port of entry. When you enter the United States, you will enter as a lawful permanent resident.
After your interview, you’ll pay the USCIS immigrant fee which will trigger the manufacturing of your green card. The card will be sent to your address in the United States. The current fee is $220.
If you would like information about consular processing, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in family-based consular immigration cases. Please feel free to call us at 510-488-1020 to see how we can help!