New Orleans

Consular Processing Attorneys

new orleans consular processing attorney - pelton balducci

Applying to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States from abroad requires several steps, and coordination among different government agencies.

Applying to become a lawful permanent resident of the United States from abroad requires several steps, and coordination among different government agencies.

The process, referred to as Consular processing, occurs when the applicant (known as the “beneficiary”) is outside the U.S. and applying for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate overseas.

In some cases, this process can take months or even years to complete.
Fortunately, our New Orleans-based team at Pelton + Balducci is devoted to helping you successfully navigate the process. We will work with you to evaluate whether any grounds for inadmissibility apply and work to help you get to the United States and get your green card.
“Carol Pelton is compassionate and will go out of her way to make sure the client is taken care of and understands the immigration procedures - which can sometimes be complicated. As a practicing attorney, I recently contacted her for guidance on a consular processing case. She was amazing in helping me understand all the steps that were required to make the case successful.”
- Jacqueline
In some cases, this process can take months or even years to complete.
Fortunately, our New Orleans-based team at Pelton + Balducci is devoted to helping you successfully navigate the process. We will work with you to evaluate whether any grounds for inadmissibility apply and work to help you get to the United States and get your green card.
“Carol Pelton is compassionate and will go out of her way to make sure the client is taken care of and understands the immigration procedures - which can sometimes be complicated. As a practicing attorney, I recently contacted her for guidance on a consular processing case. She was amazing in helping me understand all the steps that were required to make the case successful.”
- Jacqueline

Consular Processing of Immigrant Visas

Consular processing of immigrant visas requires that an applicant generally complete a three-part process:
1

The submission of supporting documents in anticipation of your consular interview to the National Visa Center (NVC).
2

The applicant’s attendance at a consular interview.
3

The filing of a family- or employment-based petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Each step is further explained below.

1. The I-130 Petition for Alien Relative is filed with USCIS

First, the petitioner or “sponsor” family member files an I-130 Immigrant Petition with USCIS. 

It is important to note that under immigration law, only certain family relationships qualify to sponsor family members. It is also important to note that, depending on your family relationship, there may be a visa immediately available for the sponsored family member, or the family member’s visa availability may be subject to wait times, due to backlogged visa availability.

2. The Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) Processing

Once USCIS approves the I-130 Immigrant Petition, it then transfers the approved petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) to begin filing fee and document collection for the consular interview.

At this stage, the NVC requests copies of vital records pertaining to both the petitioner and applicant. The NVC also requests that the petitioner submit an I-864 Affidavit of Support in order to demonstrate that the petitioner is able to financially support the applicant upon their arrival to the U.S. (The petitioner’s household income must be at or above 125% of the poverty guidelines for the petitioner’s household size, in order to qualify.)

If the petitioner does not satisfy the Affidavit of Support income requirements, they may also use a Joint Sponsor who does qualify.

The applicant must also complete the Form DS-260 at this stage, which is the immigrant visa application.

The DS-260 requires extensive biographical information about the applicant, including:
  • The filing of a family- or employment-based petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
  • The submission of supporting documents in anticipation of your consular interview to the National Visa Center (NVC).
  • The applicant’s attendance at a consular interview.

The complete list of the documents required at a particular consular post varies by country and may change over time. For example, some consular posts require police letters confirming any criminal history (or the lack thereof), and some posts require military service letters. Our immigration attorneys at Pelton + Balducci will help you confirm which documents apply in your case. 

Once all fees are paid and the NVC documentary and form requirements are fulfilled in a case, the NVC then places the case in line for the scheduling of the consular interview.

3. The Consular Interview

The consular interview will be scheduled in either the applicant’s country of nationality or country of residence, with few exceptions. The applicant will receive written confirmation of the date and time of the consular interview, as well as instructions regarding additional requirements for the interview.

All applicants are required to undergo a medical examination by a physician designated by the relevant Embassy or Consulate, and this examination is generally scheduled a few days prior to the consular interview. It is very important that any applicant with a medical history have medical records prepared to submit to the consular physician in order to avoid delays in completing the medical examination. Applicants should also present their vaccination records, if available, to the consular medical examiner. 

At the consular interview, the applicant will be required to present the original vital records documents, such as birth, marriage, and divorce records (copies of which were already submitted to the NVC).

Because the main purpose of the consular interview is to verify the information contained in the application and to ascertain the applicant’s admissibility, the officer will ask the applicant questions from the DS-260. 

The consular officer will then generally either advise the applicant that the file is complete and ready for adjudication or identify any documentary deficiencies via a Section 221(g) Temporary Refusal Notice. In the latter instance, once the applicant responds to the Section 221(g) Notice with any missing items, then the consular officer will issue a final adjudication.

Waivers of Inadmissibility

  • The filing of a family- or employment-based petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
  • The submission of supporting documents in anticipation of your consular interview to the National Visa Center (NVC).
  • The applicant’s attendance at a consular interview.

The most common ground of inadmissibility is for unlawful presence. Unlawful presence accumulates after an individual enters the United States without inspection, from the moment of arrival, or enters lawfully with a visa, but over-stays the period of authorized stay.

If an applicant is residing inside the United States after either entering without authorization or over-staying a non-immigrant visa and subsequently accumulates 6 months or more of unlawful presence, then such an applicant may be eligible for a I-601A unlawful presence waiver. This waiver is available only to applicants who have no other grounds of inadmissibility besides unlawful presence. (In other words, an applicant will not be eligible for an I-601A if fraud or criminal grounds of inadmissibility also exist.) 

This waiver does not waive prior removal orders and is generally available to applicants with only one unauthorized entry into the United States. However, there are exceptions to this rule, and our consular processing attorneys will be happy to discuss your specific situation with you.

The main advantage of the I-601A unlawful presence waiver is that an applicant may submit this waiver to USCIS inside the United States, prior to departing for the consular processing interview. Once the I-601A waiver is approved, then the applicant travels abroad to attend the consular interview (as described above).

Post-Immigrant Visa Approval

Upon visa approval, the Consulate will generally ship the applicant’s passport containing the Immigrant Visa to a courier pick-up office pre-selected by the applicant.

The typical wait time between visa adjudication date and the passport delivery date is anywhere from a few days to about two weeks. 

The applicant will find instructions for paying the Immigrant Visa Fee inside the shipment with the passport and visa sent by the Consulate. This Immigrant Visa Fee must be paid prior to the applicant’s travel to the United States, in order to avoid delays in green card delivery.

With the immigrant visa in hand, the applicant is now ready to travel lawfully to the United States!

Please note that inspection by Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) upon this first entry to the United States with an immigrant visa could take several hours to complete, whether inspection is done at an airport or at a land-based port of entry. Thus, any connecting flights within the United States must be scheduled accordingly. 

The green card should then be delivered to the address indicated on the DS-260 within a few weeks of the applicant’s admission to the United States as a lawful permanent resident.

How Pelton + Balducci Can Help

Get in touch with our Louisiana immigration attorneys today

If you need legal assistance with navigating the consular processing of immigration visas, with or without a waiver, then please give our team at Pelton + Balducci a call today at (504) 708-5400. Our team members are well versed in immigration law and cover a variety of practice areas, including but not limited to consular processing immigrant visas and waivers of inadmissibility. You may also schedule a consultation via our confidential contact form.

Get in touch with our Louisiana immigration attorneys today

If you need legal assistance with navigating the consular processing of immigration visas, with or without a waiver, then please give our team at Pelton + Balducci a call today at (504) 708-5400. Our team members are well versed in immigration law and cover a variety of practice areas, including but not limited to consular processing immigrant visas and waivers of inadmissibility. You may also schedule a consultation via our confidential contact form.

“I'm more than satisfied with my experience with Pelton & Balducci! I was very stressed about my steps for my H1B visa, but thanks to their efficiency and seriousness, I was reassured. They answered all my questions quickly and even responded to my telephone calls from France. I would recommend them to all my compatriots and colleagues without hesitation!”

- Loic B.

Contact Pelton + Balducci today: