The task of getting a green card through consular processing may seem intimidating. There are resources that are available to help you ease the transition to becoming a California resident.
File an immigration petition
First, you need to file an immigration petition with the USCIS. A petitioner needs to file this for the person who wants the green card.
Once USCIS approves the petition, the agency will send it to the U.S. Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC). If USCIS denies your petition, you can put in an appeal. The NVC has to wait until an immigration visa number is available. Certain visa preference categories will receive this automatically, such as when your spouse is a U.S. citizen. You wait longer if your spouse only has a green card.
Only a certain number of immigrant visas are available to non-citizens each year and U.S. immigration law determines how many are available. You can check a visa bulletin every month to see when you’ll get a visa number.
The consular interview
The consular office will contact you to schedule a visa interview after your visa number is available. First, you’ll need a medical exam from a USCIS-approved doctor. Make sure you bring your green card interview appointment letter and that the doctor fills out Form I-693.
Bring your application packet, medical exam report, copies of supporting documents, a government-issued I.D., passport, and travel documents from this time period. The officer will ask you questions to make sure your application is genuine and that you’ve given accurate information.
If you are successful, the consular officer will give you a visa packet that you can’t open until you get to the U.S. Pay a USCIS immigrant fee for packet processing and your green card. Do this before you get to the U.S. since you won’t get your green card without it.
Receive your green card
You should get your green card in the mail no more than 45 days after you arrive in the U.S. Of course, this can take a little longer if you don’t pay your fee until you’re in the U.S.