Consular Processing Legal Guide for Family Petitions
Consular Processing is one of the various ways to apply for an immigrant visa (green card) through a U.S. embassy or consulate in a foreign country. This process occurs when someone is outside of the United States and is trying to immigrate legally.
Family Petitions in the Consular ProcessConsular Processing is also a term used during family-based petitions. If you are petitioning for
your wife or child, or your parents that are outside of the country and trying to obtain their green
card, then you’re in the consular process.
The process involves the beneficiary going to the U.S. consulate of their country, which most
countries have. However, some countries, like Venezuela, do not have a consulate, so the family
member will have to do the process in neighboring countries. Although, if you are the petitioner
of the loved one trying to immigrate to the U.S., then you are allowed to go through the consular
process within the U.S.
RequirementsWe will discuss consular processing in terms of family-based petitions.
● Form I-130 submission: Consular processing usually starts after Form I-130 is
submitted. Once you have submitted this form, the first block of the immigration process
has been completed and it goes to what we call the National Visa Center, which is the
body of immigration that handles all the applications outside the United States.
● Make sure to have a petitionary: This is the person who will be petitioning for what we
call the beneficiary or the immigrant that is trying to obtain their lawful residency. There
must also be a valid relationship between the petitioner (you) and the beneficiary (person
trying to obtain a green card).
● Legally Binding Relationship: The relationship between the petitioner and the
beneficiary must be legally binding. One example would be a civilly married couple.
Family Sponsorships in Consular ProcessingConsular Processing is required for any family members that you are trying to petition to enter
the United States. Whether it be a spouse, child, or sibling, they are all required to undergo this
What if my loved one is currently in the U.S. illegally? People who arrived in the U.S. without
passing inspection must go back to their native country to do consular processing. For example,
if you are trying to petition for your spouse and they arrived without inspection from Mexico,
then they will have to return for the process to begin.
Entering with a visa: People who come to the U.S. with a visa and do not have an immediate
relative as their petitioner must also do consular processing outside of the U.S.
For example, if someone came into the U.S. with a visa, but your spouse is only a resident, then
you will have to return to your country to do consular processing. This is because spouses are not
considered immediate relatives.
A Case-by-Case MatterBelow are two examples of different scenarios involving entering the United States without
inspection when doing consular processing and dealing with a tourist visa when traveling. It is
important to remember that every situation is assessed on a case-by-case basis.
● If you have entered the U.S. without inspection and decide to return to your country and
come back without inspection a second time, then you will obtain what is called a
● If you are currently in the process of consular processing and want to come into the
The United States and apply for a tourist visa or use your tourist visa, you can do it but tread
carefully. In the end, it is the immigration officer who looks at your record and decides if
you are allowed entry back into the U.S. with a tourist visa while you are traveling. The
immigration officer also has the right to invalidate your visa.
It is also important to remember that certain factors won’t help your case. For
For example, if you have a bad criminal record, like a felony, or if you have a permanent bar, it is
recommended that you should not consider leaving the United States.
Likewise, the chances of success in your case are extremely high when you hire an
immigration attorney or law firm specializing in these cases. With his expertise, the attorney
will know how to navigate your case to obtain your green card.
Conclusion: Consular Processing is a way to obtain permanent residence (green card) in the
The United States and is the pathway used in family-based petitions.
Whether you are the petitioner or beneficiary, it is important to understand the full consular
process and remember an attorney will do what’s best for your specific case.