Green Card Consular Processing: What is Consular Processing?

What is Consular Processing?

Generally speaking, a person may apply for a green card through one of two ways (1) Adjustment of Status (AOS), or (2) Consular Processing.  If you are in the US, and you qualify for Adjustment then you may file for Adjustment of Status.  If you are ineligible for AOS, or you are outside the country, then you may file through Consular Processing.

Adjustment of Status vs. Consular Processing

If you are in the United States only certain people are eligible to apply through the AOS process.  You must meet the basic criteria for AOS, which are:

  • Be inspected, admitted, or paroled into the United States, OR be a VAWA self-petitioner;
  • Be admissible to the United States; and
  • A visa number must be immediately available.

Those who do not meet these criteria, and those who are abroad file for a green card through Consular Processing.  Consular Processing simply means that you’ll apply for your green card through a consulate abroad.

Consular Processing: The Process

A Green Card Consular Processing case has 3 basic parts.

  1. Form I-130: All family based consular processing cases start with the filing of Form I-130, Application for Alien Relative. Who may file for whom depends on whether the Petitioner is a US citizen or a Lawful Permanent Resident.
  2. National Visa Center: After the case is approved USCIS transfers the case to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC is the intermediary between USCIS in the US, and the Embassies and Consulates abroad. The NVC collects your documents, and processes your case, before it is sent to the appropriate Embassy.

The Beneficiary also files Form DS-260, Application for an Immigrant Visa.

Additionally, during this step, the Beneficiary uploads their biographical documents, along with the Petitioner’s I-864, Affidavit of Support, and supporting financial documents.  The NVC can take up to 3 months to review documents.  It is important to upload everything correctly, and at once, to avoid any delays. Once all the documents have been submitted and accepted by the NVC the applicant will be ‘documentarily qualified’ and await an interview date.

The NVC collects all this information through the CEAC website.

  1. The Interview: The interview takes place at an Embassy or consulate abroad. Prior to the interview the applicant will have a medical examination, and their fingerprints taken. Only the Beneficiary will attend the interview, and if all goes well, the officer will notify the applicant that their case has been approved, and that an immigrant visa will be issued.

If your case is approved the officer will take your passport and return it to you via mail with the immigrant visa placed in the passport.  In other cases, the officer will issue the immigrant visa digitally.


After the Interview

Once you receive your immigrant visa, you have 6 months to enter the United States.  You will become a lawful permanent resident on the date you enter the United States.

Prior to entering the United States, you should pay the Immigrant Fee, which will trigger USCIS to manufacture your green card, upon your entry into the United States.


If you or a loved one would like to apply for a green card through consular processing, please contact an immigration attorney who is trustworthy and knowledgeable! Our attorneys at Landerholm Immigration, APC, are experienced in complex adjustment of status and consular processing cases. Please feel free to call us at 510-488-1020 to see how we can help!