In our last blog post, we discussed applying for lawful permanent resident status (the “green card”) in the United States after having an approved immigration visa petition from a family member. However, many people will need to return to their country of citizenship and apply for status through the consulate. Below are some common questions we receive about this process:
I have an I-130 family visa petition that was just approved. Can I apply for my green card now, or do I need to wait?
The answer depends on which family member filed for you and what legal status he or she has. Spouses, parents, and minor children of U.S. citizens are considered “immediate relatives.” If you fall into one of these categories, a visa will be available as soon as the I-130 petition is approved and you can begin the process of applying for a green card. If you are not an immediate relative (for example, the spouse or child of a lawful permanent resident or the married son or daughter or sibling of a U.S. citizen), you will need to wait until a visa is available. Your approval notice will list a “priority date,” which is like your place in line. Each month, the Department of State publishes a Visa Bulletin (available at: http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/en/law-and-policy/bulletin.html), which lists which lists current priority dates. Once your date is reached, you can begin the process of applying for your lawful permanent resident status.
I checked the Visa Bulletin and my priority date is current – what do I do now?
The first step to figure out whether you can apply for status in the United States, or whether you must return to your country of origin for consular processing. Click here to see common ways in which individuals are allowed to apply within the United States. If you do not fall into one of these categories, you will likely need to go through consular processing.
What are the steps for consular processing?
Once your priority date is current, you will receive correspondence from the National Visa Center (NVC) which is the office within the United States which processes cases for consular processing. This correspondence will explain the steps you need to follow in order to be scheduled for your interview at the consulate, which include paying fees, submitting two forms (an I-864 Affidavit of Support and a DS-260 biographical information form), and submitting documents such as your birth certificate and a copy of your passport. Once the NVC confirms that you have submitted the proper fees and paperwork, they will send your file to the consulate and you will be scheduled for an interview.
I was told that I need a waiver – when do I apply for that?
Generally, the consular officer will tell you at your interview if a waiver is needed, and you will not be able to submit a waiver application before your interview. However, if your only ground of inadmissibility is unlawful presence, you are an immediate relative, AND you have a U.S. citizen spouse or parent, you may be able to file an application for a provisional waiver BEFORE leaving the United States for your consular interview.
Please note that, even if you appear eligible for consular processing, you may be ineligible to apply based on your criminal history, your number of entries into the United States, or other factors. Therefore, you should consult with an immigration attorney prior to filing any applications and before leaving the country for an interview at the consulate.
ABOUT L.I.H. LAW - IMMIGRATION LAWYERS
L.I.H. Law is a trusted immigration law firm with our office conveniently located in Seattle, near the Seattle Space Needle (2nd Ave and Denny Way).
Our well-respected lawyers exclusively practice immigration law, covering diverse topics: asylum, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA), detention cases, fiancé visas (K-1 visas), green cards, immigration status for victims of domestic violence or other crimes, naturalization applications, and much more.
The immigration lawyers and professional staff at L.I.H. Law are dedicated to providing the right solutions to meet our clients’ immigration needs. Our entire staff is fluent in Spanish and has served clientele from around the world.
Supporting our local immigration community is important to us. Our immigration lawyers and staff are active in volunteering for various community events and organizations, and conducting pro-bono work.