You can apply for a green card in New Jersey or in your home country. This government procedure is known as consular processing. Here’s what you need to know about it.
Understanding consular processing
Consular processing is the process of applying for a green card from outside the United States. If you are already in the country on a valid visa, you can apply to adjust your status through USCIS. However, if you are in your home country or unable to adjust your status, you will need to go through consular processing.
Eligibility for consular processing
To be eligible for consular processing, you must have an immigrant petition filed on your behalf and be sponsored by a relative or employer in the United States. This is why it is commonly referred to as “part two” of the green card application. According to the immigration law, your sponsor in the US must first file Form I-130 or I-140 with the USCIS. After that, your case will proceed to the US consulate or embassy, where the application process will begin.
Immigrant status and the type of consular processing
If you are living in your home country, you have no other choice but to apply for a green card. However, if you are currently in the United States, you may be able to adjust your status if you meet certain eligibility requirements like having a valid visa and having a clean record.
The type of consular processing you go through will also depend on your immigrant status. For example, if you are a first-preference immigrant (unmarried child under 21 years old of a US citizen), you will need to go through the NVC process. Second-preference immigrants (spouses and unmarried children over 21 years old of a permanent resident) can usually apply for their green card without going through the NVC process.
Consular processing can seem daunting, but it is relatively straightforward if you have all the required documents and fees. It takes roughly 5 to 13 months to complete.