Consular Processing Attorney in Fort Myers
We Can Help You Apply for a Green Card Abroad
Depending on the circumstances, some individuals hoping to apply for a green card must do so through a process calling consular processing. Consular processing is the procedure of applying for a green card through a consulate in a foreign country.
U.S. immigration law is complex, so it is in your best interest to consult with an experienced and trusted Fort Myers immigration lawyer before making any immigration-related decisions. Hurtado Immigration Law Firm is here to walk you through every step and advise you of the option that may be best suited for your situation.
Adjustment of Status vs. Consular Processing
After you have an approved family petition and there is a visa number available, the next step is determining whether the beneficiary of the approved petition can adjust status in the United States, or if the beneficiary will have to process the immigrant visa through the U.S. consulate outside of the United States.
Some Beneficiaries Must Consular Process
Intending immigrants who are already overseas are expected to consular process. Some beneficiaries have attempted to enter the U.S. on the Visa Waiver Program, or using a tourist visa, thinking that they will then be able to adjust status.
However, VWP entrants are (with only a few exceptions) prohibited from applying to adjust status. Using a tourist visa with the intent of entering the U.S. in order to apply for a green card is considered visa fraud and may make you ineligible for the green card or for any other visa or U.S. entry.
Beneficiaries who are already in the U.S. but do not have a valid admission in the U.S. will likely be required to exit the country and complete their visa process through a U.S. consular post (exception exists for those who submitted their approvable petition before April 30, 2001 and fall under INA 245(i)). Upon exiting, these intending immigrants may trigger a bar from returning to the U.S. (up to 10 years).
This would require a waiver to be filed. There are waivers available and depending on the specifics of each case, they may be filed stateside or must be filed from outside the United States.
What Is Consular Processing?
If you are eligible to apply for a green card or permanent resident status via consular processing, you must:
- File the immigrant petition. It can be family-based, employment-based, a special category petition, or via a humanitarian program.
- Wait for a decision from USCIS. If it is denied, you may appeal.
- If approved, you must wait for the National Visa Center (NVC) to confirm your petition was received. When a visa is about to become available, they will provide an immigrant visa number. They will also ask for your processing fees and any additional documentation that is needed to support your application.
- Attend an interview at the consular office. They will continue to process your case.
- If any information changes at this time, for example, if you move to a different address, reach the age of 21, or get married, you must notify the NVC. These may affect your visa eligibility.
- After your visa is granted, you will receive a “Visa Packet” from the consular officer. Do not open it.
- Pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee.
- Give your Visa Packet to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry. They will make the final determination if you may be admitted as a lawful permanent resident.
- You will receive your green card 45 days after your arrival.
Learn How Our Fort Myers Immigration Lawyer Can Help
You do not want to leave the U.S. without fully consulting with an experienced attorney to inform you of all the risks and possibilities that can happen at the U.S. consular post. Hurtado Immigration Law Firm can advise you as to whether you can adjust status or must process through a U.S. consulate.