Important note: Consular processing is the employee’s responsibility. Applicants who need assistance should contact with an immigration lawyer. FSIS cannot assist with this process.
Consular processing overview
An employee who decides to go through the consular processing steps to obtain permanent residence will need to travel to the appropriate U.S. embassy or consulate (usually depending on place of birth or citizenship) to apply in-person for an immigrant visa. This process can begin only after U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves the I-140 immigrant petition and forwards the approval to the National Visa Center (NVC), which is an office organized under the U.S. Department of State (DOS). The NVC processes all immigrant visa petitions received from USCIS and retains them until the cases are ready to be reviewed by a consular officer. The U.S. embassy/consulate will conduct visa interviews and a background check and require a medical examination performed in the country where the individual is applying for the visa. The specific procedures vary from country to country, but the general process is as follows:
- When the priority date is current, the NVC will send a Form DS-3032 Agent of Choice and Address to the employee. The employee must complete this form and send it back to the NVC. An employee may not designate FSIS staff as the agent, but should instead designate them self or their attorney as the agent.
- Once NVC receives the DS-3032 from the applicant, NVC will mail the Immigrant Visa (IV) fee bill to the agent. If necessary, the employee should again designate them self or their attorney as the agent and send payment of the bill to the NVC.
- Once the IV fee is paid, NVC will send an instruction packet to the agent. The exact contents of the packet will depend on where the applicant will be interviewed for a visa. For instance, the packet for a person applying in China will differ from the one sent to someone applying in France.
- The employee collects and holds onto all the documents required for the visa interview. These documents should not be mailed beforehand.
- The employee mails Form DS-230 Part I and any requested documents to NVC using the envelope enclosed in the information packet.
- NVC will complete the administrative processing of the immigrant visa application and may request additional information if anything is missing.
- Once NVC has finished administrative processing, it will send the employee’s immigrant visa file to the proper U.S. embassy or consulate and notify the individual by mail that this has occurred.
- Approximately one month before the visa interview appointment, the employee will receive an appointment letter detailing the date and time of the visa interview along with instructions for obtaining a medical examination. Note: The NVC cannot guarantee when it will schedule visa interview appointments. The employee should contact NVC if the circumstances of their application have changed (e.g. change of address, change of marital status, death of applicant, birth or adoption of additional children, or if NVC has requested additional information).
- At the scheduled time, the individual must appear in person for the interview and bring all the original documents or certified copies listed in the information packet.
- If the consular officer determines the immigrant visa can be issued, the employee and family members (if applicable) must enter the U.S. using the immigrant visa within the allotted time.
- At the port of entry, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer will place an I-551 stamp in each person’s passport. This stamp can be used as temporary evidence of lawful permanent resident status until the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) processes and mails the Permanent Resident Card to the employee’s U.S. address.
Updating UH records
After an employee enters the U.S. as a permanent resident and receives the Permanent Resident Card, send a copy of the card to FSIS so we can close the immigration file. The worker should also notify the HR specialist for the college/school/unit so the HR record can be updated.
FSIS does not keep immigration files indefinitely, so employees should keep their own copies of their immigration documents.