If you or your immediate relative entered the U.S. originally without a visa or your immediate relative is outside the U.S., you or they can obtain permanent resident status through “consular processing.” The U.S. citizen or permanent resident relative must first file an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (See prior blog post). Once that petition is approved, the immediate relative will be able to apply for residency through a U.S. consulate abroad.
Those who have entered the country without a visa and are seeking to get their green card must leave the country to do consular processing, but should first seek a waiver, if they are eligible, so as to not have to remain outside of the country for up to 10 years. (See prior blog post on waivers). Please consult with a lawyer to see if you are eligible for a waiver.
Consular processing outside the United States includes an application, proof of income or a sponsor, an interview, and a medical exam.
In order to demonstrate that the person outside the country or who entered without a visa will not become a public charge, the immediate family member must prove that he or she has sufficient financial resources to support his or her relative. You will have to provide evidence that your annual income is at least 125% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines for your household size. You will have to submit proof of your current employment as well as your most recent federal income tax return. If you do not earn enough money to sponsor your household size at 125% of the poverty level, you can supplement the affidavit with assets (for example if you own a home but live on a fixed income) or you can have a family member or friend file a joint affidavit of support.
Applicants for consular processing are required to demonstrate that they are not inadmissible on public health grounds. They must undergo a medical examination conducted by an approved physician before their visa appointment with the consulate in order to confirm that they have all required vaccinations and that they are not suffering from a “communicable disease of public health significance.” The medical examination will remain valid for 12 months. You MUST schedule your examination with one of these pre-approved physicians.
At your interview at the U.S. consulate, a consular officer will ask you questions about the documents that you’ve submitted and answers that you have provided on your immigration forms to double check their accuracy. If filing through a spouse, you may also be questioned about the nature of your relationship, including how you and your partner met, details about your wedding, and other questions about your life together. At the end of the interview, you will be required to take an oath and sign the application, affirming that everything in your application is true. If the officer has any reason to doubt that your familial relationship or marriage is real, they may send your application back to USCIS and ask that it be reexamined. Otherwise, your residency application will be approved.
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