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How to become a Permanent resident through consular processing?

09th September 2011
By Jessica Potter in Immigration Law
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Being a Green Card Holder (Lawful Permanent Resident) is a prestigious issue and a dream for many. It gives the person the right to live and work in the United States. There are two ways by which an individual can become a Green Card Holder. One is the Consular Processing and the other is the Adjustment of Status.

Consular Processing is for individuals who want to become a permanent resident of the US and are presently residing out of the US. An eligible person whose immigrant petition has been approved and has an immigrant visa number that is immediately available can apply for an immigrant visa. This visa application has to be filed in at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad.Adjustment of status is for individuals who want to become a permanent resident of the US and are already residing in the US. They can apply for permanent resident status without having to return to their country. This article is all about consular processing and the various procedures that are involved in it.

Steps involved in Consular Processing

Evaluating the basis of immigration
Immigrants can qualify to become permanent residents through a petition filed either by the immigrant’s family member or employer. There are several other special provisions, becoming a refugee or asylee for instance, through which the status of a permanent resident can also be obtained. So the primary step in consular processing is to determine the immigrant category under which an applicant falls. This is very important as each immigrant category has different forms to be submitted.

Filing the Immigrant petition
Once the category is determined, then the applicant has to get an idea about which form that is needed to be filed. The immigrant petition has to be filed with the USCIS.
•Form I-130 (Immigrant Petition for alien relative) is needed for family based petitions. A US citizen or a permanent resident relative has to file it on behalf of the applicant
•Form I-140 is needed for employment based petitions. The US employer has to file it on behalf of the employee

•Form I-526(Immigrant Petition by alien entrepreneur) has to be filed by entrepreneurs who have plans to start a business venture in the US on their own behalf.
•Form I-360(Petition for Amerasian, Widow/Widower and Special Immigrant) has to be filed by the immigrants or by somebody else on their behalf.
•Certain situations allow for the petitions (I-130) to be filed at the US consulate or embassy abroad – being military personnel, emergency situations involving the country’s interests etc.

Awaiting decision on the immigrant petition
Once the petition is filed, all that an applicant has to do is to wait patiently until the USCIS sends them intimation about it. If the immigrant petition is rejected, then the reasons for denial are also attached along with the intimation. The petitioner will get another chance to appeal against it. USCIS will send the approved petitions to Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC).NVC is the national authority responsible for visa related issues. The petitions will be held up there until an immigrant visa number becomes available.

Awaiting the NVC’s notification
NVC will send a notification as to when the visa petition is being and when the visa number will be available to the applicant. Details regarding the processing fee and other supporting documents for visas are also intimated by the NVC.

Receive appointment for interview
When the visa number becomes available, the consular office will schedule an interview for the applicant. It is up to the consular office to take a decision on the immigrant’s petition.

Notifying NVC about any change in information (if any)
If at all there is any change in the applicant’s marital status or address, then it is important that the NVC is informed about it.

Receiving the Green Card
If the consular office approves the immigrant petition, then a Visa Packet will be given to the immigrant with strict orders instructing them not to open it. Once the immigrant reaches US, the Visa packet should be given to the Officer at Customs and Border protection at the port of entry. After inspection of the details and if the officer regards the immigrant’s entry as admissible, then the immigrant can safely enter the US as a permanent resident. This gives them the right to stay and work in the US on a permanent basis. The green card will be mailed to the applicant within 30 days of arriving in the US.

Life after the Green Card
After becoming a permanent resident, an individual gets to stay and work in the US without any fear of immigration problems. Next step after becoming a permanent resident is to file in the citizenship application and become a US Citizen. Though there are several conditions to be met for filing US citizenship form, it is all worthwhile.

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