Once you have obtained a visa, you may wish to engage in consular processing to obtain a green card and become a permanent resident of the United States. This process can be extremely complex. It involves dense legal paperwork and interaction with government agencies.
In order to move through consular processing more quickly, you should work with a skilled immigration attorney. We can guide you through the process. Call Nesbit Law Office today for more information about how we can help you.
What Is Consular Processing?
Consular processing involves a person engaging with a U.S. embassy or consulate in their own country as they seek to immigrate to the United States. The process also involves submitting specific documents to the government and reviewing that information with the consulate. You will also have to go through an interview at the consulate before you are able to come to the United States.
Consular processing occurs after you obtain a visa. Once your visa petition is approved by the U.S. government, then you may go on to obtain a green card and become a permanent resident. At this point, you will be expected to engage in the process.
Who Must Engage in Consular Processing?
People who wish to immigrate to the United States and are already overseas must engage in consular processing. If you or your loved one is currently living overseas and wants to obtain a green card, then they must go through this process.
However, immigrants who have valid visas and are living in the U.S. may not have to go through consular processing. They may be able to submit documents to the U.S. government directly. You may still have to go through an interview at the USCIS office. However, you will not have to deal with a consular in a foreign country.
You should not attempt to obtain a student, tourist, or other visa fraudulently so that you can remain in the United States to go through processing. If you obtain a visa fraudulently, then you may be prohibited from obtaining a green card.
Leaving the U.S. for Consular Processing
Immigrants who are in the United States illegally or who have overstayed their visa may have to leave the United States and go through consular processing. Even if you are already in the United States, if you are not here on a valid visa, whether your visa has expired or you never had a visa, then you may have to return to your home country and engage in the process.
If an immigrant stays in the United States for 180 days or more without a valid visa, then they may be prohibited from returning to the United States immediately. Once you leave the United States, you may face the penalties for your unlawful stay in the U.S. That can include a bar from re-entering the United States for up to three years. That amount of time can be extended to a 10-year ban from returning to the U.S. if an immigrant is illegally in the U.S. for a year or more.
It’s important to talk to an attorney if your visa has expired. It’s also important if you are in the United States illegally. You may have other options under U.S. immigration laws. Your attorney may also be able to negotiate the situation with the U.S. government for you.
What Is a Consular Interview?
After you obtain a valid visa to come to the United States, you may be directed to an interview at a consular that is near you in your country. The consular chosen for you to complete an interview will depend on the address you included with your visa petition. The consular office will send you verification of the interview date, and you will be given directions on how to attend the interview.
If you have no fixed home or residence, then you may go to a consulate interview in a location other than where you live. For example, you may go to a consulate:
- near your spouse or children,
- near a port from where you dock if you live on a boat,
- where you work,
- within your country of national origin, or
- where you have lived the longest.
During the interview, the consular officer will ask you question about the information you submitted with your visa petition. The consular will verify information about your medical history, criminal background, and finances. They may also ask you personal questions about relationships in your life.
Your status may not be determined at the interview. However, soon after your consular interview, you should receive a determination about your status. If you are approved, then you can travel to the United States.
Your Interview May Take Place in the United States
If you are living in the United States, you may not have to undergo the interview at a consular location. You may be able to choose to engage in consular processing in your home country. However, your interview may take place in the United States. You may want to avoid going back to your home country for consular processing if you have:
- medical reasons,
- political issues in your home country, or
- advanced age.
Instead, if you are in the United States on a valid visa, then you may be able to conduct your interview in America.
Contact an Immigration Attorney Today
If you or your loved one have questions about consular processing or what you need to do to obtain a valid visa or green card, contact Nesbit Law Office. We will walk you through the process and help you understand your rights. Call our immigration lawyers today.