When is the Department of State involved in a family-based green card?

Last update: February 21, 2018

What is the Department of State, also known as the State Department?
It is the U.S. government body responsible for the international relations of the United States. It is the equivalent of a foreign ministry in other countries.

Which applicants come in contact with the Department of State?
All family-based green card applicants who are filing from outside the United States.

When does the Department of State get involved?
Generally, it takes over from USCIS when the I-130 submitted by the sponsor on behalf of the applicant has been approved.

Who are the players on the Department of State side?
The key players are the National Visa Center (NVC) which makes sure that the green card application is complete, and the consular officer who makes a decision on the green card application.

Can the Department of State do the whole process for an applicant?
Yes, in certain rare circumstances it can. This is when the applicant has a strong case and can justify an emergency. For more details, look for ‘direct consular filing’ in our glossary.