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What is Consular Processing?

For immigrants desiring to become permanent residents of the United States, there are two primary avenues to apply for this status and receive a green card. First, eligible immigrants already within the United States can apply for Adjustment of Status, allowing the permanent residency application to be processed in the United States without requiring the individual to the home country for processing. However, some eligible individuals must apply for their immigrant visa of permanent residency in their home country through their local U.S. Department of State Consulate office, a process referred to as Consular Processing.

The method of Consular Processing for U.S. permanent residency begins with determining eligibility for immigration. Applicants must first demonstrate they are part of a specific immigration category that qualifies them to apply for permanent residency. For many immigrants, their eligibility is based on approved petitions filed on their behalf by a relative or employer. Some immigrants also become eligible for permanent residency in the U.S. due to their asylum or refugee status, or if they fall within certain special classes of immigrants. Once the immigration category is determined, the U.S. Consulate office requires application paperwork, filed on behalf of the applicant in cases of a family-based or employer-based visa, or filed by the applicant directly for other immigration categories. After the application is submitted to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (U.S.C.I.S.) office, then the applicant must wait for the petition to be approved.

After a permanent residency application is filed, the applicant must wait not only for the petition to be approved, but also for an immigrant visa number to become available. Additionally, applicants are required to submit to immigration visa processing fees as well as supporting documentation confirming eligibility status. After these steps are completed and the applicant is approved, the consulate office schedules an appointment for an applicant interview to determine final eligibility of the immigration visa. At these appointments, consulate officers determine if an applicant is ineligible for admission to the U.S. for various reasons, including security reasons, health concerns, violations of immigration processes, or criminal grounds.

Applicants who have been deemed inadmissible by the U.S. Consulate Office may still apply for a waiver, which is filed at the Consulate Office along with supporting documentation to demonstrate the factual and legal basis for the waiver. The Consular officer determines whether the immigrant visa will be issued after considering the application, supporting documentation, waivers, and all other pertinent information. Under certain circumstances, a "provisional" waiver application may be filed in the United States and a determination is made before the alien travels to the U.S. Consulate abroad for consular processing.

Because Consular Processing for Permanent Residency is a complex and often time-consuming process, it is critical to have experienced legal representation to help navigate each step. Christiansen Law Firm specializes in helping individuals and families meet each requirement of the Permanent Residency application through straightforward and beneficial preparation. The attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm can help explain each piece of the application process and assist if there are unforeseen complications with petitions, waivers or providing supporting documentation. Christiansen Law Firm offers exceptional legal services at affordable rates, to help reunite families and help individuals begin a new chapter in their life as U.S. permanent residents. Contact Christiansen Law Firm today in their Houston or San Antonio offices for more information.

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Houston Office

(Principal Office)
810 S. Highway 6
Suite 210
Houston, Texas 77079
Phone: 281-579-2800
Fax: 281-579-2801
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San Antonio Office

84 NE Loop 410
Suite 130
San Antonio, Texas 78216
Phone: 210-829-0101
Fax: 210-829-8010
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at both locations


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