What is consular processing?
Foreign nationals that apply for a visa abroad will need to visit a local U.S. consulate or embassy. This will usually include submitting a visa application, such as the DS-160 or DS-260, and then attending a visa interview. The entire process is usually referred to as consular processing.
What are some common cases that require consular processing?
- An individual that is abroad and has an approved H-1B petition or other nonimmigrant visa petition
- An individual that is abroad and is applying for a F-1/M-1 student visa
- An individual that is abroad and is applying for a K-1 fiancé visa
- An individual that is abroad and is applying for an immigrant visa (i.e. spouse of a Permanent Resident or U.S. citizen, parent of a U.S. citizen, child of a Permanent Resident or U.S. citizen, or sibling of a U.S. citizen)
- An individual applying for asylum
What is the difference between the DS-160 and the DS-260 visa application.
The DS-160 visa application is used for foreign nationals that want to enter the United States temporarily. These are usually referred to as nonimmigrant visas. Meanwhile, the DS-260 via application is used by foreign nationals that want to immigrate to the U.S. on a immigrant visa.
Is there a cost difference between the DS-160 and DS-260 visa application?
Yes, currently the DS-160 application is approximately $300 and the DS-260 visa application is approximately $500 – per applicant.
Is consular processing more difficult than filing an I-485, Adjustment of Status Application?
Yes. The USCIS Form I-485, Application to Adjust Status is filed and processed by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Meanwhile, the consular process involves not only USCIS, but other governmental agencies, such as the National Visa Center (NVC) and the consulate. The more agencies that are involved, the great the chances that the applicant can make a mistake that will delay, postpone, or cause their case to be denied.
If USCIS approves my case, can the consulate deny it?
Yes. This happens all the time. The consulate is a lot stricter than USCIS. Most petitions and applications filed by USCIS do not require an interview. Whereas, a consular appointment involves an interview with a visa officer.
What happens if my case is denied at a consulate?
The consulate will issue a 221(g) form that will indicate the reason for the denial. In a few months, the consulate will return the case file back to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After receipt, USCIS will issue a denial decision or a “Notice of Intent to Deny” or “Notice of Intent to Revoke” the previous approval. The notice will usually provide the petitioner with THIRTY (30) days to respond.
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