The Consular Process is used to obtain an immigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad. Consular processing is available for intending immigrants who reside outside the United States.
The process starts with a U.S. citizen, Permanent Resident, or U.S. employer petitioning an intending immigrant through USCIS. U.S. citizens and permanent residents can petition and sponsor family members who live abroad for a green card. U.S. employers can also petition future employees who live abroad. After the petition at USCIS is approved, the petitioner receives an approval notice in the mail. The next step is to proceed with the Consular Process to apply for the immigrant visa.
To start Consular Processing, USCIS sends the approved petition to the Department of State, National Visa Center (NVC). The National Visa Center official issues the visa. If the visa is immediately available, the NVC creates a case number and sends the petitioner a notification with the next steps. This notification tells the petitioner to submit the affidavit of support and accompanying documents.