October 25, 2012 § Leave a comment
According to the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) , there are two major paths for one to permanent resident status (green card). A persons who is the beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition and has an immigrant visa number available may apply at a US Consulate in his/her home country for an immigrant visa to come to the US and be admitted as a permanent resident. This process is generally known as Consular processing.
Another process is adjustment of status through which an eligible person, who is already present in the US can apply for permanent resident status without having to return to his/her home country for further processing.
Steps for Consular Processing
Firstly, you have to determine if you fit into a particular immigrant category. In most cases, you will become eligible for a green card through a petition filed on your behalf by a family member or a US employer. There are others who become green card holders by getting refugee or asylum status, or through a number of other special provisions provided in the INA.
Once you determine the category, you will need to have an immigrant petition filed on your behalf, in most cases.
- Family Based
Under this category, a US citizen or permanent resident relative should file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, for you.
- Employment Based
This category quite often require the US employer to file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, for you. If you want to invest a significant amount of capital into a business venture in the US, you can file Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur” by yourself. There are certain other Special Classes of Immigrants and humanitarian programs as well
Although immigrant petitions are filed with USCIS, at times, an I-130 petition can be filed for an immediate relative with a US Consulate abroad, subject to certain conditions.
If the petition is denied, USCIS will mention the reasons for the denial and will notify you about your right to appeal. If the petition is approved and if you are the beneficiary of the petition and living abroad or living in the US, but will apply for your immigrant visa abroad, USCIS will send the approved petition to the National Visa Center and the petition will be there until an immigrant visa number is available.
The National Visa Center will notify the petitioner and beneficiary when the visa petition is received and then again when an immigrant visa number is likely to become available. They will also inform when they have to submit immigrant visa processing fees and other information about the supporting documentation.
Once a visa is available or a beneficiary’s priority date becomes current, the consular office will schedule an interview for the applicant. The consular office will then decide if the beneficiary is eligible for a visa. If the process goes on smoothly, you will be granted a visa. The consular officer will give you a packet of information, referred as a “Visa Packet.”. Make sure you do not open this packet.
Once you arrive in the US, you have to hand over the visa packet to the Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry. You will then be inspected by a Customs and Border Protection officer and only if they find you admissible, you will be admitted as a permanent resident of the US. As a permanent resident , you can live and work in the US permanently. Your green card will be mailed to you.