If you’re applying to become an American citizen, you may be wondering what consular processing means and why it’s necessary in the citizenship application process. In this guide, we’ll explain the specifics of consular processing so that you can understand what it entails to help make your family’s immigration process as quick and simple as possible.
What Is Consular Processing?
Consular processing refers to the process of applying for a United States Green Card from another country and is the last step in the immigration process. It’s when an applicant has been approved for a Green Card and must go to their native country’s embassy or consulate to finalize the process. Consular processing differs from Adjustment Of Status (AOS), which is the process used by those applying for citizenship from within the U.S. Those who apply for American citizenship through consular processing will have to remain in their country until their application is processed and their U.S Green Card is approved. Consular processing is often used to obtain the following types of Visas:
- When the sponsor is a U.S. citizen, a CR1/IR1 spouse; CR2/IR2 child
- When the sponsor is a legal permanent resident, a F21 spouse/F22 child
How Does Consular Processing Work?
Consular processing is the procedure by which immigrants outside the United States are processed for their immigrant Visas. To complete the consular processing, individuals must submit a recent medical exam and be interviewed at one of the U.S. embassies or consulates that have jurisdiction over the applicant’s place of residence in a foreign country. The interview will go over the applicant’s family and employment situation, as well as any criminal history that may affect eligibility for a Visa. Then, the consular officer will determine whether or not to approve your application. If approved, you’ll receive a Visa and be allowed to travel into the United States for up to a year.
Who Should Apply For Consular Processing?
Consular processing is only available to individuals who have already completed the relevant petitions and are qualified for a Green Card either through employment, marriage, or by another means. Most immigrants applying for U.S. citizenship while living outside of the United States will use consular processing.
How Long Does Consular Processing Take?
How long consular processing takes varies from case to case and will depend on whether or not your sponsor is a U.S. citizen. In general, consular processing is usually quicker than Adjustment of Status. You can expect consular processing to take anywhere between 6 to 14 months on average.
How Can An Immigration Lawyer Help?
An immigration lawyer can help with consular processing by guiding you through the process and providing any necessary advice, guidance, or support. An immigration attorney can also help you prepare your paperwork correctly to increase the chances of your petition being approved quickly and without clerical issues.