Consular Processing in Houston
Upon approval of an immigrant petition and when immigrant visa number is immediately available to a beneficiary, there are two ways to apply for lawful permanent resident status (a Green Card). If you are outside of the United States, you may apply at a U.S. Department of State consulate abroad for an immigrant visa in order to come to the United States and be admitted as a permanent resident. This pathway is referred to as consular processing.
Notification from the National Visa Center (NVC)
The National Visa Center (NVC) is responsible for collecting visa application fees and supporting documentation. The NVC will notify the petitioner and the beneficiary when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is about to become available. They will also notify you when you must submit immigrant visa processing fees (commonly referred to as “fee bills”) and supporting documentation.
Visa appointment schedule at a U.S. Consulate:
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. The consular office will process your case and decide if you are eligible for an immigrant visa.
Immigrant Visa is granted:
If you are granted an immigrant visa, the consular officer will give you a packet of information. This packet is known as a “Visa Packet.” Do not open this packet.
You will need to pay a USCIS Immigrant Fee. USCIS uses this fee to process your immigrant visa packet and produce your Green Card. We encourage you to pay the fee online after you receive your visa packet and before you depart for the United States.
When you arrive in the United States, you should give your Visa Packet to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer at the port of entry. The CBP officer will inspect you and determine whether to admit you into the United States as a lawful permanent resident. If the CBP officer admits you, you will then have lawful permanent resident status and be able to live and work in the United States permanently.
When you receive your Green Card:
If you have paid the USCIS Immigrant Fee, you will receive your Green Card in the mail after you arrive in the United States. If you do not receive your Green Card within 45 days of your arrival, please call our USCIS Contact Center at 800-375-5283 or make an InfoPass appointment to visit your local USCIS field office.
If you did not pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee before you arrived in the United States, you will need to pay the fee before USCIS will send you a Green Card.