The process of obtaining a family-based visa to the United States can take several months or even several years. In fact, when a family member is sponsoring a foreign national and files the petition initiating the visa application process, it could be a year or longer before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) decides whether to grant or reject it. Wheaton family-based consular processing is the last step to filing for lawful permanent residency status in the U.S.

If the visa applicant is an immediate relative of their U.S. sponsor, such as a spouse, the time period from filing the initial petition to the last phase of applying will likely be much faster. If an individual is currently pursuing a family-based visa, they could enlist an accomplished local immigration attorney to help with their case.

Time Periods for Seeking Permanent Residency in Wheaton

If a foreign national seeking permanent residency is not an immediate relative of their U.S. citizen sponsor, they may need to wait after sending in the petition before they can proceed with filing for a green card. Foreign nationals who are not immediate relatives of the U.S. citizen sponsoring them are categorized as Family Preference applicants.

Moreover, the government only issues a limited number of visas per year to individuals in each Family Preference visa category. There are also limitations on the number of visas that can be issued to foreign nationals immigrating from certain countries. So, even if USCIS grants a foreign national’s petition for a visa, if they are in the family preference category, they will likely have to wait until an immigrant visa number is available before they can apply for a green card.

Eligibility for Family-Based Consular Processing

When a person seeking a green card lives outside of the U.S. and their petition is approved, their case will go through consular processing. However, if the foreign national already resides in the U.S, they would go through a different process to obtain a green card known as Adjustment of Status.

Generally speaking, the consular process tends to take less time to complete than when someone is applying for a family-based green card by adjusting their legal status. A foreign national applying for a green card will need to stay in their home country while their case is in consular processing.

Overview of the Consular Process for Family-Based Visas

Consular processing only begins after the foreign national’s petition for lawful permanent residency is granted, and an immigrant visa number has been issued to them. Wait time to secure an immigrant visa number and apply for a green card through family-based consular processing largely depends on whether the applicant is an immediate or a family preference relative of a permanent resident in Wheaton.

After USCIS grants the applicant’s petition and issues them an immigrant visa number, the case will be transferred to the National Visa Center, a branch of the Department of State. The applicant will be required to complete additional forms and submit payment for processing fees.

Next, the applicant’s information will be transferred to their local U.S. consulate or embassy. Before the applicant’s interview at their local U.S. consulate or embassy, they will be required to submit to a health check.

At the interview, the applicant must have their passport and other required information in hand. If the officer approves the applicant’s petition for a green card, they will be issued a travel visa authorizing their entry into the U.S. and in force for a year. Before the travel visa expires, the individual will receive their green card at their residence.

A Wheaton Attorney Can Answer Your Questions About Family-Based Consular Processing

Unfortunately, Wheaton family-based consular processing can be confusing. A mistake on your paperwork or one missing piece of documentation could result in a denial. An immigration attorney can help guide you through the consular process and ensure you avoid these costly mistakes. Call our office today and ask to speak to a lawyer about your visa case.

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