Consular Processing of Immigrant Visa


Consular processing is the method by which foreign citizens who are outside the United States can obtain permanent resident status in the U.S through a U.S consulate overseas. After the immigrant’s visa is approved, the USCIS sends it to the National Visa Center (NVC). Once the NVC receives the petition, it assigns a case number. The NVC keeps the case until a consular office abroad adjudicates the case.


Consular processing is only available to immigrants’ whose immigration petition has been approved by the USCIS and whose visa numbers are available.  Once a foreigner is ready to undergo consular processing, he or she will need to prepare documentation, including but not limited to: the original immigration petition approval notice, a copy of the immigration petition as it was filed, I-824 receipt notice, a valid passport, police certificate from country of nationality and residence, birth certificate, visa documents, prison records, and military records.


Once the NVC has received the immigrant petition from the USCIS upon the petition’s approval, the NVC, which is responsible for the collection of visa application fees and supporting documentation, will notify the petitioner and beneficiary when the visa is received, as well as when the visa number becomes available. The NVC will also notify the petitioner and beneficiary as to when they should send the processing fees and the documentation as listed above.  After the fees have been paid, the NVC sends forms and instructions to the petitioner, including the DS-230, Application for an Immigrant Visa, the I-864, Affidavit of Financial Support, and Form DS-3032. Once a visa is available or a beneficiary’s priority date is current, the NVC forwards the immigrant’s file to an appropriate consular office.  Around the same time, it will send the beneficiary an appointment letter, setting the date on which the applicant should appear for an appointment at the consulate office.  If the immigrant is granted an immigrant visa, the consular officer will give him or her a packet known as a “Visa Packet.” Upon the immigrant’s arrival to the U.S the immigrant should give the Visa Packet to the U.S Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry. If found admissible, the immigrant shall be admitted as a lawful, permanent resident of the U.S.  Usually within 30 days, the immigrant will be mailed his or her green card.