Consular Processing: What is it? How do I get it?

Consular Processing

When you apply for a visa to visit the United States, you go through “consular processing.” And while you may think that there’s nothing special about processing a simple visa application, there is!

There are several reasons why consular processing is essential for international travellers, including that it allows you to meet with a U.S. consulate official before travelling to the U.S.

Consular Processing: What is It?

Consular processing is how the United States government processes visa applications from foreign nationals who wish to visit or live in the United States.

It’s an essential part of immigration law because it allows international travellers to enter the country quickly and easily.

How to apply for Consular Processing?

When applying for a visa, there are certain things you should know before submitting your application.

First off, if you live outside the United States, you must understand that consular processing is different from routine immigration procedures. 

Your application will go through a different process than someone who lives in the U.S. You may find yourself waiting longer for approval.

Second, you should know what documents you need to submit. If you’ve never applied for a visa before, you might think you only need to provide a passport, proof of funds, and a letter of invitation.

Apply for a visa. 

The first step to applying for consular processing is to apply for a visa.

Submit your application early

You may be able to submit your application earlier than usual, but this does not mean that you will receive a faster decision. Processing times vary from country to country and can take weeks to months.

Submit Form DS-160

The form DS-160 requires applicants to submit personal details, including name, date of birth, gender, nationality, passport number, place of birth, current address, and signature. Applicants may also include additional information if they wish.

Pay Fees

Applicants pay fees (Immigrant Visa Processing Fees) ranging from $160 depending on the type of visa requested.

Have patience

The wait time varies depending on the country and type of visa requested. For example, applicants for B1/B2 visas may expect to wait between two and six months before receiving a decision; however, those seeking F1 visas may only wait three to four weeks.

Steps to getting consular processing

We know how important it is for U.S. visas to get consular processing, so we wanted to give our readers a step-by-step guide to help them navigate the process.

Here’s what you need to do:

Step 1: Determine Your Purpose.

The first step to obtaining Consular Processing is determining your purpose for applying for a visa. The primary objectives are tourism, business, education, or family reunification. 

If you are not sure what purpose you want to use, you should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in your country before filing your petition.

Step 2: File the Petition.

Once you determine your purpose, file the petition.

Step3: Wait for a Decision.

After you submit your application, you must wait for a decision. Depending on the type of visa you applied for, you may be notified within a few days or several months.

Step 4: Wait for Notification from the National Visitor Center.

If you receive notification from the NVC, notify them of any changes to your case. They will then send you a letter stating whether they received your request and if they will be able to assist you. If they cannot help you, they will tell you where to go for assistance.

Step 5: Go to Your Appointment.

Appointments occur when you go to the embassy or consulate to submit your documents. If you have not received a letter from the embassy or consulate confirming your appointment date, please get in touch with them directly to confirm your appointment.

Document submission refers to submitting your passport, visa, and supporting documentation to the embassy or consulate. Documents should be submitted at least two weeks before your appointment.

The Benefits of Consular Processing

Consular processing is an immigration service that allows people to move to the United States to apply for permanent residency without leaving home. People who use this service save time and money by avoiding the hassle of applying for citizenship at the Canadian embassy abroad.

  • If you’re interested in moving to the United States permanently, consular processing may suit you.
  • Consular processing takes about six months to complete.
  • Each application costs $500.
  • Proof of health insurance is required.
  • A criminal background check is required.

Why should you consider consular processing?

Consular processing is a service provided by the U.S. Department of State for individuals who are detained or otherwise prevented from entering the United States. It allows an individual to request expedited removal proceedings before an immigration judge while still abroad.

Do You Qualify for Consular Processing?

Do you qualify for consular processing? If you’re wondering whether you are eligible for consular services, consider some factors.

  • Are you a U.S. citizen who has been living abroad for at least five years?
  • Have you lived outside of the United States for at least six months within the last two years?
  • Is there an emergency that requires you to travel back to the United States?
  • Would you face hardship if you were forced to return home?
  • Do you have any criminal convictions?
  • Does your country have an extradition treaty with the United States?


Consular Processing? Consular processing is when foreign nationals arrested abroad or detained in another country are processed before being returned to their home countries. This article will help you understand consular processing better.

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q.)


What is consular processing?

Suppose you are outside of the United States. In that case, you may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa to come to the United States and be admitted as a permanent resident.

What if USCIS denies my petition?

If USCIS denies the petition, the notice will include the reasons for rejecting the petition and whether you may appeal the decision.

How do I apply for an immigrant visa?

Suppose the petition is approved and you live outside the United States (or in the United States but want to apply for your immigrant visa abroad). In that case, USCIS will send the approved petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center.

Do I need to contact the National Visa Center?

You do not need to contact the National Visa Center about your petition; they will contact you for the information they need.

What is the difference between a family-based immigrant petition and an immigration petition?

Family-based immigrant petition: If you want to apply for a Green Card based on your family relationship, a U.S.

What if I need to file an immigrant petition with USCIS?

When you know what category you believe best fits your situation, you will usually need someone else to file an immigrant petition.

What are the circumstances that require a local USCIS filing?

Citizen and There is an international USCIS field office located in the country where you reside. If you live within the consular office’s jurisdiction for countries with no USCIS field office, exceptional circumstances (PDF, 60.52 KB) exist that warrant the local filing.

What is an immigrant petition?

Special categories: In some cases, you may file a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), and Special Immigrant for yourself or have someone else file one for you.

How do I apply for an immigrant visa?

Once a visa is available, or your priority date is current (earlier than the cut-off date listed in the monthly Visa Bulletin ), the consular office will schedule you for an interview.

How do I know if my visa application is being processed?

The NVC will notify the petitioner and you (the beneficiary) when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number becomes available.

How do I apply for lawful permanent resident status?

Once you are the beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition and an immigrant visa number is immediately available to you, there are two ways to apply for lawful permanent resident status (a Green Card).


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