Understanding Consular Processing for Parents: A Comprehensive Guide

Navigating the immigration process can be complex, overwhelming, and long, especially when you are hoping to bring your loved ones to the United States. For U.S. citizens looking to bring their parents to live with them, consular processing is a common and effective pathway. In this blog, we discuss the path of consular processing for parents, including eligibility requirements, the step-by-step process, and tips for a smooth experience.

What is Consular Processing?

Consular processing is the procedure used by U.S. citizens to apply for immigrant visas for their family members at a consulate or embassy in their home country, rather than in the U.S. Typically, this process is for family members who currently reside outside of the U.S. Consular processing involves several steps, from filing a petition with USCIS to attending an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate in the parent’s home country.

Who is Eligible?

It is important to determine your and your parent’s eligibility before beginning the application process. Both the petitioner (U.S. citizen child) and the beneficiary (foreign national parent) should meet specific criteria to qualify for this process. Although consular processing for a parent is similar in many ways to that of a spouse, there are some key differences to consider. Here’s an overview of the main eligibility requirements:

Petitioner’s Legal Status:

The petitioner must be a U.S. citizen to petition for a parent. Unfortunately, Lawful Permanent Residents are not eligible as petitioners.

Proof of Relationship:

The petitioner must provide evidence of the parental relationship to the beneficiary. This includes birth certificates, adoption papers, and other legal documents.

Petitioner’s Age:

The U.S. citizen sponsoring their parent must be at least 21 years old.

Financial requirements:

The petitioner must demonstrate the ability to support the beneficiary financially. This is usually done by submitting an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864) and meeting the minimum income requirements based on the U.S. federal poverty guidelines. Sometimes, a joint sponsor may be required if the petitioner does not meet the minimum income requirements.

Intent to Reside in the U.S.:

The beneficiary must intend to live permanently in the United States upon receiving the immigrant visa.

Inadmissibility Factors:

The beneficiary must not be inadmissible to the United States. Grounds for inadmissibility include certain criminal convictions, immigration violations, communicable diseases, and security-related concerns. In some cases, waivers may be available for certain grounds of inadmissibility. 

It is important to determine whether you are inadmissible before beginning consular processing to save yourself both time and money.

What is the Application Process?

Consular processing for a parent involves several steps and can take quite a while from the time of filing until the parent is reunited with their child in the U.S. Here, we outline the main steps involved from start to finish.

Filing the Petition (Form I-130):

The process begins with the U.S. citizen filing Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with USCIS. This form establishes the relationship between the citizen and their parent.

USCIS Approval:

Once USCIS approves the I-130 petition, the case is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will assign a case number and start the pre-processing phase.

NVC Processing:

The NVC assigns a case number and provides instructions on how to proceed with the visa application. This includes submitting required documents and paying applicable fees. The beneficiary will also need to complete Form DS-260, the Online Immigrant Visa Application.

Submit Required Documents:

This step requires several documents, including the approved I-130, the Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), and civil documents (like birth certificates, marriage certificates, and police clearance certificates).

Schedule the Visa Interview:

Once the NVC has processed the case, they will schedule a visa interview at the U.S. consulate or embassy in the beneficiary’s home country.

Medical Examination:

Before the visa interview, the beneficiary must have a medical exam done by a physician approved by the U.S. embassy or consulate. The results of this exam are typically sent directly to the embassy or consulate.

Attend the Interview:

The beneficiary attends their NVC interview and brings all required documents. During the interview, a consular officer will ask questions to verify the information provided in the application and assess the eligibility. It’s crucial to bring all original documents and any additional requested paperwork to the interview. If the beneficiary needs to update any information regarding their petition, this is the moment to do so. If the consular officer has any further questions or requires more information, they will inform the beneficiary and issue a Request for Evidence.

Visa Issuance:

If the consular officer approves the visa application, the beneficiary’s passport will be stamped with the immigrant visa, allowing entry into the United States. The beneficiary will also receive a sealed packet of documents to present to the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officer upon arrival in the U.S.

Entering the United States:

The beneficiary must enter the U.S. within the visa’s validity period. Upon entry, the CBP officer will process the immigrant visa packet and admit the beneficiary as a lawful permanent resident. The green card will be mailed to the U.S. address provided during the application process.

Why Consider Consular Processing?

Consular processing is a vital pathway for U.S. citizens to reunite with their parents and bring them to the United States. What is important to consider is that it is best to start the process as early as possible; the consular processing timeline can be lengthy.

While the process can be overwhelming, it is an important step in reuniting families and providing stability for parents and their children. If you stay organized, have your documents ready to go, and seek legal advice from a trusted and experienced immigration attorney, you can navigate this process more smoothly.

At Hope Immigration, we are dedicated to guiding you through every step, ensuring that you and your parent can be together again in the United States as smoothly and quickly as possible. If you have questions or need assistance with consular processing for your parents, please contact our office to schedule a consultation. Our experienced immigration team is here to guide you every step of the way.

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