While adjustment of status provides a route to citizenship when you are already residing in the United States, consular processing applies to individuals who are currently outside the country. This requires visiting the U.S. Department of State consulate where you live and taking certain steps to be accepted as a permanent resident.
There are many essential steps to applying for permanent residency via consular processing. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services explains all that is involved, so you can approach the process with confidence.
Green card eligibility
You are considered eligible for a green card if a family member or an employer files a petition on your behalf. Refugees and asylum seekers are also considered eligible to receive green cards if they meet certain criteria. Different forms must be filed depending on your situation. If a family member is filing on your behalf, they must submit Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. When an employer files, a Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker is needed. If you fall into a special category, yourself or another person can file a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), and Special Immigrant.
The petitioner, meaning the person who filed one of the above forms, will receive a reply on whether the petition was accepted. If not, reasons for denial will be listed. If the petition is accepted, you will receive an immigrant visa number. If accepted, you will need to undergo an interview at the consular office.
Receipt of visa packet and green card
Upon acceptance, you will receive a visa packet containing important information regarding the next steps. This packet must be provided to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection when you arrive in the U.S. Once the USCIS Immigrant Fee has been paid, you will receive your green card within 45 days of your arrival in this country.