Gambini Law

Consular Processing

Once you are the beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition and an immigrant visa number is immediately available to you, there are two ways to apply for lawful permanent resident status (a Green Card). If you are outside of the United States, you may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States and be admitted as a permanent resident. This pathway is referred to as consular processing.

Steps for Consular Processing

Determine Your Basis to Immigrate

The first step in consular processing is to determine if you are eligible to apply for a Green Card (lawful permanent residence). Most immigrants become eligible through a petition filed on your behalf by a family member or employer. Others become permanent residents by first obtaining refugee or asylum status, or through a number of other special provisions. To see the many different ways to get a Green Card, go to our Green Card Eligibility Categories page.

File the Immigrant Petition

When you know what category you believe best fits your situation, you usually will need someone else to file an immigrant petition for you.

  • Family-based immigrant petition: If you want to apply for a Green Card based on your family relationship, a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident relative must file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative for you.
    • Although you usually file immigrant petitions with USCIS domestically, sometimes you can file a Form I-130 petition for an immediate relative (spouse, child, or parent of a U.S. citizen) with a USCIS field office, U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. Situations where this may be applicable include:
      • If you, the petitioner, are a U.S. citizen and
      • There is an international USCIS field office located in the country in which you reside, or,
      • If you reside within the consular office’s jurisdiction for countries in which there is no USCIS field office and exceptional circumstances (PDF, 60.52 KB) exist that warrant the local filing.
      • Members of the military
      • Emergency situations
      • Situations involving the health or safety of the petitioner
      • When in the national interests of the United States
  • Employment-based immigrant petition: If you want to apply for a Green Card based on your employment, your U.S. employer must file a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker for you. If you intend to invest significant amounts of capital into a business venture in the United States, you may file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur for yourself.
  • Special categories: In some cases, you may file a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), and Special Immigrant for yourself or have someone else file one for you.
  • Humanitarian programs: Most humanitarian programs do not require you to have an immigrant petition, although you may need to meet additional requirements before they can apply for a Green Card.

For more information or for help with your application, please schedule a consultation with us.

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