Direct Consular Filing - Family Based Green Card
Direct Consulate Filing (DCF) is a procedure that allows U.S. citizen to petition for his/her immediate relatives directly to the U.S. Embassy/Consulate in their country. The U.S. Embassy/Consulate handles the visa petition and decides the immigrant's eligibility for a green card without requiring that any paperwork be handled by USCIS offices in the U.S. The entire procedure can take as few as 3 months instead of a year or more. However, this procedure is not offered everywhere and there is no readily available list of consulates that offer DCF.

Most consulates allow DCF if the sponsor is residing in the foreign country. However, procedures vary if the sponsor is residing in the U.S. Some consulates allow this even if the sponsor lives in the U.S. and foreign spouse abroad, as matter of courtesy. If you are a U.S. citizen now, but originally from that country, or previously been a resident of that country, it may help influence the outcome.

DCF may also be allowed in following additional situations:
  • Members of the military

  • Emergency situations

  • Situations involivng the health or safety of the petitioner

  • When in the national interests of the U.S.

Even though DCF is faster than processing through a U.S. Service Center, it is not instant. The immigrating spouse still needs to go through the entire visa application and collect various documents such as birth/marriage/police/military certificates.

Procedure:
  • U.S. citizen submits the I-130 application. Submission may either be by mail, courier or in person with or without an appointment or only on specific days.

    Application details

  • I-130 is adjudicated.

  • Consulate sends Packet 3 to the beneficiary. The beneficiary returns Packet 3 to the consulate. If you have all of the documents ready for a I-130 petition and visa application ready at your first visit to the consulate to file the I-130, you may request the officer to accept the visa application early.

    Immigrant Visa details

  • The beneficiary attends the interview. U.S. citizen does not have to be present at the final interview.

  • The beneficiary enters the U.S. with immigrant visa.

India:
U.S. citizens and Legal Permanent Residents living in the United States should file the petition as per the procedure described above.

U.S. citizens are resident in India can file an I-130 petiton for their immediate relatives, at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Office at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi. U.S. citizen must show that they have permission to reside in the consular district and that they have been continously residing in India for at least six months prior to filing I-130 petition. They can show the proof of such residency by showing the U.S. passport containing exit and entry stamps. Those who are on temporary status in India such as a student or tourist do not meet this resident standard.

U.S. consulates in Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata are not authorized to accept any immigrant visa petitions.

Anyone wishing to file an IR immigrant visa petition at the DHS office in New Delhi on any working day may do so (Monday through Friday) between 9:00 AM and 12:30 PM in order to file an I-130 Petition. A personal interview will be mandatory in each case. In all IR-1 (and CR-1) cases, marriage photographs must be submitted (where there was a traditional religious wedding). There will be no waiver for documentary evidence required by regulation. They can be reached by email at ins.ndi@dhs.gov

Department of Homeland Security will attempt to accommodate all applicants in one day. However, in unforeseen circumstances, it may take more than one day for the filing of a petition.

In case of any questions, applicants may call Department of Homeland Security New Delhi at +91-11-2419-8000, ext. 8475 and 8506.

Canada:
Canada does NOT allow DCF even if both the spouses are residents of Canada.

Australia:
Australia allows DCF even if the U.S. citizen is not a resident of Australia.

Other countries:
Please contact your U.S. Embassy/Consulate to find out whether they allow direct consular filing.

Also check a list maintained by an attorney. As the procedures at consulates around the world keep changing constantly, this list changes frequently and may not be up to date.