Depending on your circumstances, it’s possible to apply for lawful permanent residence status from outside the United States. However, since the process is often misunderstood, it’s not uncommon for applicants to make mistakes when following this path to legal immigration. At Luque Law Firm, we can help you navigate the process of immigrating legally.
Steps for Consular Processing
Determine Your Eligibility to Immigrate
Your first step is to define which specific immigration category allows you to enter as a lawful permanent resident. Most Immigrants are made eligible through a petition filed on their behalf by either a family member or an employer. Other immigrants may gain eligibility through the visa lottery or after the approval of an I-601A unlawful presence waiver, among other provisions. Our consular processing attorneys in Naple can guide you through the many ways in which to get a green card.
File Your Immigration Petition
Once you’ve decided which category you feel best fits your situation, you’ll need someone to file the immigration petition on your behalf. A U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative can file for you domestically.
If you want to apply based on employment, your employer must file for you. However, if you plan to invest a significant amount of money into a U.S. business venture, you may be able to file on your own.
There are other rare categories where you or someone else may file a petition. Our consular processing attorneys in Naple can go over those situations with you if you believe they apply.
Wait for a Decision
You’ll be notified once USCIS decides on your petition. Should it be denied, the notice will include the reasons for the denial and whether you may appeal or not. If your petition is approved, USCIS will send the approved petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC). The petition remains there until your immigrant visa number becomes available.
Wait for the National Visa Center to Notify You
The NVC is responsible for collecting application fees and any supporting documents. They’ll notify you when your approved petition has been received and then again when your immigrant visa number is becoming available. They’ll also alert you when you need to send any processing fees or supporting documentation.
Go to Your Appointment
The consular office will schedule your interview once a visa is available or your priority date has become current. The consular office will then process your case and determine if you’re eligible for an immigrant visa or not.
Alert the National Visa Center of Any Changes
If you change your address, your marital status, or have reached the age of 21, contact the NVC and update them as these changes may affect your eligibility. Otherwise, you won’t need to contact them; they’ll reach out if they need more information.
Maintain Contact with the NVC
You must maintain contact with the NVC at least once per year, otherwise the case will be terminated. If the case is terminated, you have the ability to reinstate it but will have to pay the processing fees again.
Once Your Visa Has Been Granted
If you’re granted an immigrant visa, you’ll receive a packet, known as a “Visa Packet,” from the consulate, which contains your passport with the immigrant visa inside. Don’t open the packet.
Once you’ve paid your USCIS Immigrant Fee, USCIS will process your packet and produce your Green Card. You must pay the fee online once you receive the packet and before you head to the United States.
When you arrive in the U.S., hand your unopened packet to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry. They’ll then inspect you and decide whether to admit you as a lawful permanent resident. If admitted, you’ll have lawful permanent resident status and be able to live and work in the United States permanently.
Receive Your Green Card
You’ll receive your Green Card in the mail after you arrive in the U.S. if you’ve paid the USCIS Immigrant Fee before arriving. If you arrive before paying, the fee must be paid before USCIS will send your green card.
If Your Visa Has Been Denied
If your immigrant visa is denied, the consulate will email or send you a letter referencing the section of law which made you ineligible to receive an immigrant visa. If there is a waiver available for you, the letter will also state that you are eligible to apply for a waiver.
Speak with Our Expert Green Card Lawyer
Our attorneys have successfully handled many consular processing cases in Naples, so why not put our experience to work on your behalf? We invite you to schedule a consultation at your convenience so that we can discuss your immigration and DACA needs in greater detail.