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Consular Processing

Consular processing, happens when an intending immigrant, who is residing overseas, must attend the US consulate in the home country to present forms and documentation and attend an interview with a consular official, who will determine whether or not the immigrant is eligible for an immigrant visa for entry into the United States.

The process begins in the United States, when the US. petitioner, whether an immediate family member or an employer, files a successful visa petition for the beneficiary. The National Visa Center here in the United States will then forward the approved petition along with supporting documents to the consulate in the beneficiary’s home country. The consulate will then schedule an interview with the beneficiary, who must submit a local police report, unexpired passport and medical exam result, along with an Affidavit of Support and financial documents from the petitioner.

If the interview is based on marriage to a US citizen, then documents supporting the validity of the marriage must be submitted, and personal questions answered concerning the marital relationship. People who entered the United States illegally must leave the United States and use consular processing.This is not recommended because they may be subject to the three to ten year bar on re-entry to the United States.

An exception to this rule is where the beneficiary is married to a US citizen and files for a “hardship waiver” based on extreme hardship to the US citizen spouse in the event that he or she is not allowed back to the United States to resume life with the US citizen spouse. In this situation, when the waiver application (I-601) is approved by the USCIS in the United States, the immigrant spouse is permitted to leave the United States to obtain the immigrant visa at the consulate in his or her home country, and return to the United States in a matter of days without penalty.

In most cases, the intending immigrant will process his or her immigrant visa application at any consulate if he or she is physically located within its jurisdiction, and intends to remain there throughout the visa processing. For example, if the person resides in Jamaica, WI., then the processing will be conducted at the consulate in Kingston.