Consular Processing Explained

Consular Processing

What Is Consular Processing?

When applying for a visa in the United States from outside the country, the process is known as consular processing. Whether you're already in the United States or still in your home country, the green card application process differs.

Who Should Apply Through Consular Processing?

Applicants who live outside the United States must generally apply for a green card through consular processing.


The immigration process for the following visa kinds is known as consular processing:

When the sponsor is a U.S. citizen, CR1/IR1 spouse; CR2/IR2 child; F2A category (F21 spouse; F22 child) when the sponsor is a legal permanent resident (aka green card holder)


If you apply for a green card through consular processing, you will have to wait in your home country while your application is processed. This can take several months, but it's usually far faster than AOS, and you can keep your regular job while you wait.

How to Get through Consular Processing

Consular processing is a multi-step process, and it's critical to know where you'll be going. Here's what to anticipate:

Step 1: Determine whether you qualify for a green card.

Step 2: Have your sponsor file the appropriate petition with US Citizenship and Immigration Services for your green card category, such as the I-130 form (USCIS).

Step 3: Wait for your petition to be approved by USCIS. It could take anywhere from a few months to over a year to complete.

Step 4: Once your petition is approved, ensure sure you have a green card. If you're married to a US citizen, your visa will be ready right away, but other green card applicants may face lengthy wait times. For further details, consult the visa bulletin.

Step 5: Once a visa is available, the National Visa Center (NVC) will process your case. The National Visa Center, which is part of the State Department, processes green card applications for people living outside the United States.

Step 6: The NVC will notify you when it is time to pay fees and submit your application documentation. To provide all required information, you'll complete out and submit Form DS-260.

Step 7: The NVC will send your case file and supporting documents to the nearest US embassy or consulate, which will contact you to set up an in-person interview.

Step 9: You must bring your passport and original papers to the interview. A consular officer will take you under oath and interview you about your application when you arrive. Your passport may be taken, but you will receive it later.

Step 10: The consular official will determine whether or not your application will be granted. You could be informed immediately or later. Unless more inspections are required, decisions are normally made within a week.

Step 11: If your application is approved, you will be issued a visa that will allow you to travel to the United States, as well as a sealed envelope containing your paperwork. Do not open this envelope; only a US officer at an official point of entry should do so.

Step 12: From the date of your medical examination, your travel visa will be valid for 6 months. You will be processed by a US border official upon entering the nation, who will open the sealed envelope and formally admit you into the country.

Step 13: Your visa will now be valid for up to 12 months for travel in and out of the United States. USCIS will mail your green card to your U.S. address during this period.

Consular processing can appear to be difficult. 

What is the Consular Processing Timeline?

Consular processing is usually much faster than using the AOS system from within the US. The time it takes for consular processing varies by case, but once your petition has been authorized and you've been assigned a visa number, you should expect it to take 4 to 6 months to finish.

What are the Consular Processing Fees?

The cost of consular processing varies based on the sort of green card you want. There is a $535 filing fee for Form I-130 and a $325 application processing charge for family-based and marriage green cards, for a total of $860.

The fees for employment-based green cards are significantly higher, totaling $1,045. Other green card applicants' total fees may be slightly higher or lower.

You'll also have to pay for a medical checkup, which may vary depending on your home country's healthcare system, and you may have to pay a charge to your local authorities in order to get police certificates.

Don't be alarmed if this sounds difficult. The application process for immigration is simple with us. Simply call us at 1-800-670-VISA (8472) or send us an email.

What if my application is denied?

Fortunately, consular officers are bound by stringent procedures and have minimal discretion in rejecting green card applicants. When considering AOS cases, USCIS employees are allowed to utilize their discretion, allowing them additional leeway to deny applications.

AOS applicants, on the other hand, can appeal denials through USCIS or the courts. There is no appeal system for consular applications, therefore if a consular officer rejects your application, it will be difficult to overturn their decision.


I hope this information was useful. Complex immigration processing can be incredibly complicated and stressful for everyone. Before filing this application, you should seek legal advice from an experienced attorney. can assist you and will be there for you every step of the journey. Please contact us via phone or email.