A beneficiary of an immigrant petition (I-130, I-140, I-526, etc.) also may apply for an immigrant visa via consular post processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Consular post processing of an immigrant visa is the only option available to individuals who are outside of the U.S.
To pursue consular post processing, an individual must be the beneficiary of an approved immigrant petition and an immigrant visa must be available. Following the approval of an immigrant petition, the USCIS will forward the petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC). The National Visa Center is an immigrant visa processing center. The center retains all approved immigrant petitions that it receives until a case is ready for adjudication by a consular post.
When the NVC receives the completed application forms with all of the requested supporting documentation and appropriate fees, it will review the documentation and determine whether additional information is required. If the documentation is complete, the NVC will notify the designated consular post that the case is ready to proceed and will forward them the documentation. The consular post will then schedule the applicant for an immigrant visa interview at the U.S. embassy or consulate and an interview notice will be mailed directly to the applicant.
During the visa interview, the consular officer examines the documentation, and interviews the applicant to determine whether or not the applicant is admissible to the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident. If the applicant is eligible for an immigrant visa, the consular officer will approve the application, and will issue an immigrant visa valid for six months. The applicant must enter the U.S. within that six month period to complete the permanent resident process. The applicant will be granted lawful permanent resident status upon his or her admission to the U.S. using the immigrant visa. At the time of admission, the applicant’s immigrant visa will be endorsed (stamped) and serves as a temporary Form I-551 evidencing permanent residence status for one year. A physical permanent resident card (green card) is subsequently issued and mailed to the applicant.
A ‘C’ under a particular preference category on the visa bulletin chart indicates that the preference category is “current” or that there are immigrant visas available for individuals who fall within that category.