When a couple direct file their applications with the U.S. consulate, they avoid the long wait time for U.S. government processing in the United States. This can save 6 - 9 months or more of processing time and avoids separation of the couple. The direct filing alternative is often overlooked by immigration attorneys and eligible couples because of lack of knowledge about the various options available. Consular processing is required where the spouse of the U.S. citizen is living abroad. Sometimes the U.S. citizen and foreign national couple live in a foreign country together and then wish to move to the United States. When the U.S. citizen has been residing abroad six (6) or more months, the jurisdiction for filing the immigrant application is with the U.S. consulate that covers the foreign country.
Procedures for Direct Consular Processing
All of the filing fees, all of the applications and the interview are completed directly at the U.S. consulate where the couple resides. The U.S. consulates process Immediate Relative Petitions very quickly. Once the Petition is approved, both the U.S. citizen and the foreign national must submit to background checks, the foreign national completes the required medical exam and the couple turns in the immigrant visa applications. The interview held at the same U.S. consulate. For the interview, the couple must show they are in an authentic marriage, the U.S. citizen has resided in the foreign country for the prior six months, the foreign national spouse meets the requirements to immigrate, and the couple intends to immigrate to the U.S. within six months of granting of the visa for entry and lawful permanent residency.
If the case is approved, the foreign national will receive a 2 year conditional residency card if the marriage is less than 2 years old. Conditional Residency expires in 2 years and requires the filing of the final application, called the Lift of Conditional Residency in order to complete the Adjustment of Status Process. If the couple's marriage has reached the 2nd wedding anniversary at the time of approval, the foreign national will receive indefinite residency status and a 10-year residency card. The card is mailed to the foreign national. Once the foreign national receives either the 2 year or 10 year card, they receive the extra benefit of applying for U.S. citizenship earlier, within 2 years and 9 months of receipt of the status.
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