The immigration process, at first glance, can seem overwhelming, especially with all the requirements and paperwork that need to be completed. But as long as the applicant understands the process and what needs to be done, they can get through it fairly easily.

In this article, we break down consular processing in immigration cases and explain the three steps to completing it.

What is Consular Processing?

Not all immigration cases happen completely inside the United States where the applicant deals with the USCIS. In some cases, such as if the applicant lives abroad, the immigration process happens in a location outside the U.S. and is handled by the Department of State.

Immigration cases that happen outside the U.S. go through consular processing at a U.S. consulate abroad.

The Three Steps of Consular Processing

Consular processing for immigrant visa applications can be broken down into three important steps.

1. File an I-130 Petition

An I-130 petition is for U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who want to bring their relatives to the U.S. on permanent resident status. It serves to prove and establish their relationship with the immigrant.

The I-130 petition should be filed by the U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, which is then handled by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

2. Submit the Required Documents

When the case is approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, it is then transferred to the Department of State to be handled by the National Visa Center.

At this point, a DS-260 form needs to be submitted for each family member seeking a visa, as well as financial and civil documents, such as copies of birth certificates, marriage certificates, police certificates, and court records, among others.

3. Attend an Immigrant Visa Interview

The National Visa Center will then verify all the documents and forms submitted. When they are satisfied, they will invite the relative to attend an immigrant visa interview. Because the relative is outside the U.S., the interview will be held at the U.S. embassy in their country of residence.