Consular processing is the means by which an individual obtains legal permanent residency by processing their immigrant visa overseas at an U.S. embassy or consulate.
Eligibility for an immigrant visa is based on an underlying approved immigrant petition (e.g. Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, or Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker). The approved immigrant petition is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for preliminary processing. Where an immigrant visa is currently available in one’s category (For visa availability, see Visa Bulletin at http://travel.state.gov/content/visas/english/law-and-policy/bulletin.html), the NVC will facilitate the processing of the immigrant visa application and affidavit of support. The NVC will subsequently forward the case to an U.S. embassy or consulate for final visa processing and interview.
Once the case has been forwarded to the U.S. embassy or consulate overseas, the applicant will be required to undergo a medical examination and an interview. Upon issuance of the immigrant visa, the applicant may enter the U.S. as a legal permanent resident.