About

Immigrant Visa USA

Step 1: Submit a Petition

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent resident petitioners residing within the United States must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This will be done either electronically or through the traditional paper process through the mail.

To learn more about USCIS and to access forms and instructions, please click here.

Filing Petitions from Inside the United States

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent resident sponsors residing within the United States must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox facility, following instructions on the USCIS website. U.S. employers must file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, as instructed on the USCIS website. 

Filing Petitions from Outside the United States

While most immigrant visa petitions are filed in the United States, filing certain types of petitions outside the United States is feasible. Learn about filing petitions outside of the United States.

Petition Approval

Your immigrant petition must be approved by USCIS before your case can proceed to the National Visa Center.

Step 2: Begin National Visa Center (NVC) Processing

Important Announcement

Answers to several common questions are often found using our self-service tools. Please log into https://ceac.state.gov for your most current case status and for a list of any documents you are required to submit.

The latest updates for U.S. Embassies and Consulates, including operating status of the Consular Section, can be found at https://usembassy.gov. NVC cannot predict when Consular Sections will resume routine services, or when your case are going to be scheduled for an interview.

Please visit https://nvc.state.gov for answers to your frequently asked questions, and steps for visa processing. 

After USCIS approves your petition, they are going to transfer your case to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) for pre-processing. The primary step in this processing is the creation of your case in our system. Once this is complete, we will send you a Welcome Letter by e-mail or physical mail. With the information in this letter, you can log in to our Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to check your status, receive messages, and manage your case.  

Once you submit your fees, forms, and supporting documents to NVC, we will review your case to ensure you provided all the documentation required to schedule the immigrant visa interview. Interviews are based on the availability of appointments offered at the Embassy/Consulate.

To determine which cases NVC is currently reviewing, please ask to the NVC Timeframes page on the right navigation bar.

Number of Visas Each Year is Limited in Some Categories

United States law limits the amount of immigrant visa numbers available annualy in certain visa categories. This means that even if USCIS approves an immigrant visa petition for you, you may not get an immigrant visa number immediately. In addition, U.S. law also limits the number of visas available in certain categories by country. For limited categories, the availability of immigrant visa numbers depends on the date your petition was filed and the number of others waiting for the same visa category. The date your petition was filed is called your priority date.

Priority dates are posted monthly on the Visa Bulletin, which provides up-to-date priority dates for cases NVC is processing. Please note that while NVC attempts to contact all applicants when their visa number is available, you will also use the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin to check whether a visa is out their for your petition. If a visa is out there and NVC has not yet contacted you, please allow us know by using our Public Inquiry Form.  

Important Notice: Termination of Registration:

Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) section 203(g) provides that the “Secretary of State shall terminate the registration (petition) of any alien who fails to use for an immigrant visa within one year” of notice of visa availability. The petition could also be reinstated if, within two years of notice of visa availability, the alien establishes that the “failure to apply was for reasons beyond the alien’s control.” Therefore, if you do not respond to notices from NVC within one year you risk termination of your petition under this section of law and would lose the advantages of that petition, such as your priority date.

 Applicant

 Both Petitioner and Applicant

Step 3: Pay Fees

The first thing you need to do after receiving your NVC Welcome Letter is pay your processing fees. There are two processing fees:

  1. Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee
  2. Affidavit of Support Fee. A little number of cases do not required payment of this fee. Please review our FAQ on the topic to find out if you are not required to pay this fee.

You will need a bank routing number and a checking or bank account number from a U.S. based bank. 

To pay your fee, log into your case in CEAC and click the ‘PAY NOW’ button under Affidavit of Support Fee or IV Fee on your summary page.

Please note you cannot pay these two fees simultaneously; the online system will ask you to pay them one at a time.

After submitting your payments online, please allow up to 1 week for NVC to process your fees before subsequent to the next step. You will not be able to access Form DS-260 until NVC has processed your payments.

Important Notice: If the system requests you pay an Affidavit of Support fee, but you are not required to pay the Affidavit of Support fee based on the criteria in this FAQ, please contact NVC before paying your Affidavit of Support fee.

Step 4: Complete Affidavit of Support

An Affidavit of Support, also called the Form I-864, is a document a private signs to simply accept financial responsibility for the applicant who is coming to live in the United States. The one that signs the Affidavit of Support is also called the “sponsor.” The petitioner must complete Form I-864; however if the petitioner’s income is insufficient, a joint-sponsor may agree to also complete an I-864 on the applicant’s behalf.

An Affidavit of Support is legally enforceable. The sponsor’s financial responsibility usually lasts until the applicant either becomes a U.S. citizen, or are often credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work (usually 10 years) under the Social Security Act.

By signing Form I-864, the petitioner (including any joint sponsor(s)) is agreeing to use their resources, if necessary, to financially support the beneficiary and any dependent(s). If the beneficiary and dependent(s) receive any designated federal, state, or local means-tested public benefits, under U.S. law the agency providing the benefit “shall request reimbursement” from the signatory of the I-864.  

NOTE: Please review the subsequent information very carefully. Failure to complete and submit the correct form(s) will delay the processing of your case.

In most cases, the petitioner must:

  1. a)      Complete an Affidavit of Support form and;
    b)      Gather evidence of their finances and other supporting documents (See Step 5).

Complete Affidavit of Support form

There are several types of Affidavit of Support forms (I-864, I-864EZ, and I-864A). For detailed information about Affidavit of Support requirements and forms, please visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service’s (USCIS) website.

You can also find answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) here. Use the information found in these FAQs and on this webpage with, not instead of, the detailed instructions for the Affidavit of Support forms on USCIS’s website.

Please be advised: Customer Service Representatives at NVC cannot advise you as to which Affidavit of Support form you should complete.

If you are not required to submit an Affidavit of Support (please see FAQs for qualifications), you want to instead contact NVC to submit an evidence of why you are not required to do so. Please do this before paying your Affidavit of Support fee.

2021 Poverty Guidelines Calculator

Please use the subsequent poverty guidelines calculator to help in determining if you meet the minimum income for sponsorship and which Form I-864(s) to submit, in reference to the subsequent table below. This will also assist you on which financial documents you may need to obtain in Step 6. Results should be used for informational purposes only.

Please enter a value between 2 and 20 on the text field corresponding to the number of family members in your household. The minimum income requirement will appear in the row below.

For the 48 Contiguous States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands:

Sponsor’s Household Size

100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines

125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines

For sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or child

For all other sponsors

For Alaska

Sponsor’s Household Size

100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines

125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines

For sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or child

For all other sponsors

For Hawaii

Sponsor’s Household Size

100% of HHS Poverty Guidelines

125% of HHS Poverty Guidelines

For sponsors on active duty in the U.S. armed forces who are petitioning for their spouse or child

For all other sponsors

Complete Affidavit of Support Form

If…

Then…

You filed an I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative, and all three of the following are true:

1. You filed a Form I-130 petition for your relative;

2. There is only one applicant on the Form I-130 petition; and

3. The income you are using to qualify is based entirely on your salary or pension and is shown on one or more Forms W-2 provided by your employer(s) or former employer(s).

You, the sponsor (petitioner), must complete Form I-864EZ.

See tips for completing I-864EZ.

You filed an I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative, and you meet the minimum income requirement

You, the sponsor (petitioner), must complete Form I-864.

See tips for completing Form I-864

You completed a Form I-864, you do not meet the minimum income requirement, and you are using a joint sponsor to meet the minimum income requirement

You, the sponsor (petitioner), and the joint sponsor must complete Form I-864.

See tips for completing Form I-864.

You completed a Form I-864, you do not meet the minimum income requirement, and you are using a household member to meet the minimum income requirement

You, the sponsor (petitioner), and the joint sponsor must complete Form I-864A.

See tips for completing Form I-864A.

You filed an I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative and the applicant has earned or can be credited with at least 40 qualifying quarters under the Social Security Act.

The applicant should download a copy of the form I-864W at https://www.uscis.gov/i-864w and upload the completed form to CEAC as part of the IV application or bring the completed form to the interview with the consular officer. The applicant should submit their earnings and benefits statement from the Social Security Administration.

You filed an I-130 Petition for an Alien Relative and are sponsoring a child who will become a U.S. citizen immediately upon entry under the Child Citizenship Act of 2000 (CCA).

The applicant should download a copy of the Form I-864W at https://www.uscis.gov/i-864w and upload the completed form to CEAC as part of the IV application or bring the completed form to the interview with the consular officer.  

You filed an I-600 Petition and you are sponsoring a natural or adopted child, other than a stepchild, who is under 18 years old.

The applicant should download a copy of the Form I-864W at https://www.uscis.gov/i-864w and bring the completed form to the interview with the consular officer.

You filed an I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant and are a self-petitioning widow(er).

The applicant should download a copy of the Form I-864W at https://www.uscis.gov/i-864w and upload the completed form to CEAC as part of the IV application or bring the completed form to the interview with the consular officer.

You filed an I-360 Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant and are a self-petitioning battered spouse or child.

The applicant should download a copy of the Form I-864W at https://www.uscis.gov/i-864w and bring the completed form to the interview with the consular officer.

Step 5: Collect Financial Evidence and other Supporting Documents

After the financial sponsor(s) completes the Affidavit of Support form, they should gather evidence of their finances and other supporting documents. Complete the Financial Evidence Assistant clicking the ‘What Financial Evidence Do I Need to Submit’ button below to learn more about what must be submitted.

Please remember: Each financial sponsor (petitioner, any joint sponsors, and any household members) must submit an Affidavit of Support as well as evidence of their finances and other supporting documents. Failure to do so will delay the processing of your case

Step 6: Complete Online Visa Application (DS-260)

After you pay your fees and the status in CEAC is updated to ‘PAID’, you and every qualified family member immigrating with you must complete the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (Form DS-260). You may wish to preview a sample DS-260 (PDF – 13.9 MB) before beginning.

To complete your Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, log into your case in CEAC and click the ‘START NOW’ under IV Application on your summary page.

Submitting Form DS-260 does not formally execute a visa application.  The visa application is not formally made until the visa applicant(s) is interviewed by a U.S. consular officer.

After submitting Form DS-260 online, you must print the confirmation page and bring it to your interview. You can print this from CEAC any time after you complete your DS-260 application.  

Step 7: Collect Civil Documents

After you complete your DS-260(s), you and each family member immigrating with you want to collect the civil documents required to support your visa application.

Your civil documents MUST be issued by the official issuing authority in your country. Please refer to the Document Finder to learn about the civil document requirements for each country.

Please note that all documents not written in English, or within the official language of the country from which you are applying, must be accompanied by certified translations. The translation must include a statement signed by the translator stating that:

  • The translation is accurate, and
  • The translator is competent to translate.

Important Notice on Missing Documents: If a required document is unavailable per the country-specific guidelines, you do not need to scan the document into your CEAC. However, if you cannot obtain a required document for an additional reason, you must submit a detailed written explanation to NVC once you scan your other documents. During your visa interview, the consular officer will determine whether you must obtain the missing document before a visa are often issued. As a general rule, any document that is listed as “available” on the country-specific guidelines must be reviewed by a consular officer. Failure to obtain all required documents will delay your case.

Documentation of Adoption

If an intending immigrant child was adopted and if the child’s application to immigrate is based upon a parent-child relationship, then you must submit the below custody documents.

If you are the adoptive parent and/or petitioner, you must provide:

  1. A certified copy of the adoption decree.
  2. The legal custody decree if custody occurred before the adoption.
  3. A statement showing dates and places where the child resided with the adoptive parents.
  4. If the kid was adopted when aged 16 or 17 years old, you want to submit evidence that the child was adopted with, or subsequent to, the adoption of a natural sibling under age 16 by an equivalent adoptive parent(s).

Birth Certificates

You and each family member immigrating with you must obtain an original birth certificate or certified copy.

Court and Prison Records

If you were convicted of a crime, you MUST obtain a certified copy of each court and prison record, even if you were later granted amnesty, a pardon, or other act of clemency.

Marriage Certificates

If you are or have been married, you must obtain original marriage certificate/s or certified copies of  marriage.

Marriage Termination Documentation

If you were previously married, you must obtain evidence of the termination of each prior marriage you have had. Your evidence must be an original or certified copy of one of the subsequent documents: FINAL legal divorce decree, death certificate, or annulment papers.

Military Records

If you served in the military of any country, you must obtain a photocopy of your military record.

Petitioner Documents

If you are applying for an IR5 visa because the parent of a U.S. citizen or for an F4 visa because the brother or sister of a U.S. citizen:  You must obtain an original birth certificate for your petitioner, or a certified copy.

If you are applying for an IR1, CR1, or F2A visa because the spouse of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident and your petitioning spouse was previously married:  You must obtain evidence of the termination of EVERY prior marriage your petitioning spouse has had. This evidence must be an original or certified copy of one of the following documents:  FINAL legal divorce decree, death certificate, or annulment papers.

Photocopy of Valid Passport Biographic Data Page

You and each family member immigrating with you want submit a photocopy of the biographic data page of a currently valid passport. The biographic data page is that the page together with your photograph, name, date, and place of birth.

Police Certificates

If you are 16 years of age or older, you must obtain a photocopy of a police certificate from all countries you have lived in using below criteria:

If you …

AND you…

THEN submit a police certificate from…

Are 16 years old or older

Lived in your country of nationality for more than 6 months at any time in your life

Your country of nationality

Are 16 years old or older

Have lived in your country of current residence (if different from nationality) for more than 6 months

Your country of current residence

Have ever lived in another country for 12 months or more

Were 16 years or older at the time you lived there

The country where you used to live.

Were arrested for any reason, regardless of how long you lived in that city or country, and no matter what age you were

 

The city and/or country where you were arrested.

Note: Present and former residents of the United States do NOT need to submit any U.S. police certificates.

Important: Police certificates expire after one year, unless the certificate was issued from your country of previous residence and you have not returned there since the police certificate was issued. If at the time of your interview the following three items are all true, you want to bring a new police certificate to your visa interview:

  • You are quite16 years old;
  • The police certificate submitted to NVC was obtained more than one year ago; and
  • You still live in the country that issued the certificate.

Immigrant Visa Process

Step 12: After the Interview

Important Notice

Do not sell your house, car or property, resign from your job, or make non-refundable flight or other travel arrangements, until you have received your immigrant visa.

If Your Visa is Approved

If your visa is approved, you will be told how and when your passport and visa are going to be  returned to you.

Passport and Visa 

Your immigrant visa will be placed on a page in your passport. Please review the printed information right away to make sure there are no errors. If there are any spelling or biographical errors, contact the embassy or consulate immediately.

What do I need to do before I travel?

You must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you receive your immigrant visa and before you travel to the United States. Only children who enter the United States under the Orphan or Hague adoption programs, Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants, returning residents (SB-1s), and those issued K visas are exempt from this fee. Please visit the USCIS website for more information and to pay the fee. 

Please Note: USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 or Green Card) until you have paid the fee.

When should I travel?

You must arrive in and apply for admission to the United States no later than the visa expiration date printed on your visa. An immigrant visa is usually valid for up to six months from the date of issuance unless your medical examination expires sooner, which may make your visa valid for fewer than six months.

Entering the United States

When traveling to the United States, the primary (or principal) applicant must enter before or at an equivalent time as derivative family members with visas. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to grant or deny admission. Learn about admission and entry requirements on the CBP website. When you are admitted, you will enter as a Lawful Permanent Resident, also called a green card holder, and will be permitted to work and live in the United States.

When You are a Permanent Resident – Learn more about your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident. You may also wish to review Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants.

Social Security Number – To learn about the U.S. Social Security Administration benefits available to Legal Permanent Residents, and how to apply for a social security number card, visit the Social Security Administration website.

If Your Visa is Denied

If your visa is denied, you will be told by the consular officer why you are ineligible to receive a visa. supported on U.S. law, not everyone who applies is qualified or eligible for a visa to come to the United States. Under U.S. law, many factors could make an applicant ineligible to receive a visa. For more information, please refer to Ineligibilities for U.S. Visas. In some instances, the law might allow you to apply for a waiver of the ineligibility. If you are able to apply for such a waiver, the consular officer will advise you on the steps to required. Please review the Visa Denials webpage for more detailed information.

In some situations the consular officer does not have sufficient information needed to process your application to conclusion, or you may be missing some supporting documentation. The consular officer will inform you if information or documents are missing and how to provide it.

Administrative Processing

Some visa applications may require further administrative processing.  When administrative processing is required, the consular officer will inform the applicant at the end of the interview. The duration of the administrative processing will vary supported the individual circumstances of every case. At the conclusion of the administrative processing period, the consular officer might conclude that an applicant is now qualified for the visa for which he or she applied. The officer may also conclude that the applicant remains ineligible for a visa.  

Except in cases of emergency travel (i.e. serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family), before making inquiries about status of administrative processing, applicants should wait a minimum of 180 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later.

Step 1 Submit a Petition

Step 2 NVC Processing

Step 3 Pay Fees

Step 4 Affidavit of Support

Step 5 Financial Documents

Step 6 Online Application

Step 7 Civil Documents

Step 8 Scan Documents

Step 9 Submit Documents

Step 10 Interview Preparation

Step 11 Applicant Interview

Step 12 After the Interview

 Petitioner

 Applicant

 Both Petitioner and Applicant

Step 8: Scan Collected Documents

Once you have collected all the necessary documents, you must scan and save them.

In order to scan your documents, you will need access to a computer and scanner or a smartphone with an online connection. If you do not have access to these, common places with this type of equipment are libraries, community centers, internet cafés, and copy shops. Note: If you choose to use a public computer, be sure to delete your scanned documents once you have finished uploading them.

Unless specifically directed to do so by the National Visa Center (NVC) please do not mail any documents to NVC. If you do, you will delay the processing of your case and risk losing any documents you send.

In order to ensure your case does not experience delays in processing, follow these guidelines when scanning your documents:

Requirements:

Single File Size and Type

Acceptable file types include .pdf (preferred) .jpg, and .jpeg

Each individual file (scanned document) must be no larger than 2 MB (megabytes).

Scan and upload your multiple page document, like your I-864, as one file. If the document size is quite 2 MB, compress the file.

“Zipped” files, modifiable PDFs, or password-protected files will not be accepted.

Image Quality

Your scans must:

  • Be in color.
  • Include the front and back side of any document that has stamps, seals, or writing on the back.
  • Include a certified translation of your document with your original (i.e. foreign language) document in a single file. Please note that a translation is not required for documents in the language of the country where your visa interview will take place.
  • Be clear, easily seen and read, and no parts of the document are cut off.
  • Oriented so it can be read across the screen without the necessity to rotate the document.

Most scanning programs offer a preview function so you can make sure the document is easily read. If you cannot read the scanned document, re-scan it at a better resolution. Keep in mind this means the saved file will be larger and you may need to compress the file before you upload it.

Type or use a pen to complete forms and sign them by pen to ensure the writing can be seen on your scan.

Compressing a File

Compression means saving your document in a smaller file size. This not only allows the file to reqiure up less space on your disk drive but also means it are often be uploaded or e-mailed much faster. However, not all file types are easily compressed. Most computer operating systems include an option to compress a file. This option is often found under “File” or “Save,” or appears when you right-click on a file name in a navigation screen. Look on the “Help” tool in your computer operating system for more information on what is available to you.

There is also third-party compression software available, both at no cost and for purchase. Please remember, the Department of State cannot accept files that have been “zipped.”

Step 9: Upload and Submit Scanned Documents

IMPORTANT:Do not send any documents to NVC by mail. However,you must bring every civil document you uploaded and submitted together with your application to your visa interview.  

To submit documents, log into CEAC and go to the “Start Now” buttons located under Affidavit of Support Documents and Civil Documents. When you have uploaded all the required documents for each section, press “Submit Documents”. The “Submit Documents” buttons will not work unless you have uploaded all of the required documents for each person. Once you press “Submit Documents”, your case will be placed in line for review at the National Visa Center (NVC).

To determine which cases NVC is currently reviewing, please refer to the NVC Timeframes page on the right navigation bar. 

Once NVC reviews your case, you will receive an email stating one of the following: 

Corrections Required

If NVC determines you did not submit the right documents, you will receive a notification that the status of your case has been updated. When you receive this message, follow the instructions to log into CEAC. Follow the instructions to provide additional information or to correct documents. Once you complete that, you will need to resubmit your case for review by pressing “Submit Documents”.

Please remember to follow the scanning requirements in Step 8 for your corrections.

Documentarily Complete

If NVC determines you have paid the required fees, submitted the specified immigrant visa application, Affidavit of Support, and supporting documents to NVC, you will receive an email that your case is documentarily complete and NVC will work with the appropriate U.S. Embassy or Consulate to schedule an appointment for you. NVC cannot predict when your case will be scheduled for an interview.

The U.S. Embassy or Consulate General tells NVC what dates they are holding interviews, and NVC fills these appointments in a first-in, first-out manner. Please keep in mind, applicants in a numerically limited (preference) visa category can receive an appointment, their priority date must also be current. You can track your priority date using the Visa Bulletin at https://usvisas.state.gov/visabulletin.

Step 10: Prepare for the Interview

After the National Visa Center (NVC) schedules your visa interview appointment, they will send you, your petitioner, and your agent/attorney (if applicable) an email noting the appointment date and time.  After you receive an interview Appointment Letter from NVC, you must take the subsequent steps BEFORE the interview date.

  1. Schedule and Complete a Medical Examination

You (and each family member or “derivative applicant” applying for a visa with you) are required to schedule a medical appointment with a licensed physician within the country where you will be interviewed. This exam must be with an embassy-approved doctor, also referred to as the Panel Physician. Exams conducted by other physicians will not be accepted. You must complete your medical examination, along with any required vaccinations, before your scheduled visa interview date. Please visit our List of U.S. Embassies and Consulates for country-specific medical examination instructions.

After your exam, the Panel Physician will either send the exam results directly to the embassy or give you a sealed envelope. If the doctor gives you an envelope, do not open it. Instead, bring it to your visa interview and give it to the consular officer.

  1. Register for Courier Service/Other Pre-Interview Instructions
  2. Gather Documents Required for the Interview

Every visa applicant, regardless of their age, must bring certain documents to the interview, including photographs, and the original or certified copy version of all civil documents submitted to NVC. You do not need to bring your Affidavit of Support or financial evidence you submitted to NVC.

What happens if you forget to bring something on this list? The consular officer will not be able to complete the processing of your visa. You will have to gather the missing items and supply them to the embassy or consulate, and may have to come for additional interviews. Failure to bring all items on the above list can delay visa issuance.

Step 11: Applicant Interview

Prior to the interview, ensure you have followed the U.S. Embassy or Consulate interview preparation instructions.

On the scheduled date and time of your interview appointment, go to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate with your printed visa application (DS-260) confirmation page. A consular officer will interview you (and accompanying family member beneficiaries) and determine whether or not you are eligible to receive an immigrant visa. As part of the interview process, ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken.

Important Notice

You should not make permanent financial commitments, such as selling your house, car or property, resigning from your job, or making other travel arrangements, until you have received your immigrant visa.

Who Must Attend the Interview

You, your spouse, and any qualified unmarried children immigrating with you, must participate in the interview. All traveling applicants required to participate will be named on the interview Appointment Letter you receive from the National Visa Center (NVC).

If your spouse and/or qualified unmarried children will immigrate at a later date and travel separately from you, they are not required to participate in your interview. They will be scheduled for a separate interview appointment. You should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate directly to arrange separate interviews, if needed.

Your sponsor/petitioner does not attend the visa interview.

What to bring to the Interview

The applicant is responsible to bring all required original or certified copy civil documents to the visa interview. Failure to bring all required documents to the interview may cause delay or denial of the visa.  You must bring the subsequent documents to the interview:

  • Appointment Letter – The interview appointment letter you received from NVC.
  • Passport – For every applicant, an unexpired passport valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States
  • Photographs – two identical color photograph(s) for every applicant, which must meet the general Photograph Requirements.
  • DS-260 Confirmation Page
  • Supporting Documents – original or certified copies of all civil documents you uploaded into CEAC. 

Your original documents will be returned to you when the interview has been completed. Any photocopies provided may be kept.

  • English Translations – If documents requiring English translation were not sent to NVC, you must obtain them and present them on the day of your interview. For more information please review the U.S. Embassy or Consulate interview preparation instructions. 
  • Visa Fees – If your visa application fees were collected by NVC, you do not need to pay again. However, if you or any family member did not pay all the necessary fees, you will be asked to pay any unpaid fees at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  

Failure to seem for Interview - If you cannot appear at your scheduled interview, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible.  If you do not contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate within one year of receiving your interview appointment letter, your case may be terminated and your immigrant visa petition cancelled, and any fees paid will not be refunded.

Need to change the interview date and time - Instructions to reschedule your appointment are available at U.S. Embassy or Consulate interview preparation instructions.

Step 12: After the Interview

Important Notice

Do not sell your house, car or property, resign from your job, or make non-refundable flight or other travel arrangements, until you have received your immigrant visa.

If Your Visa is Approved

If your visa is approved, you will be informed how and when your passport and visa will be returned to you.

Passport and Visa 

Your immigrant visa will be placed on a page in your passport. Please review the printed information right away to make sure there are no errors. If there are any spelling or biographical errors, contact the embassy or consulate immediately.

What do I need to do before I travel?

You must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you receive your immigrant visa and before you travel to the United States. Only children who enter the United States under the Orphan or Hague adoption programs, Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants, returning residents (SB-1s), and people issued K visas are exempt from this fee. Please visit the USCIS website for more information and to pay the fee. 

Please Note: USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 or Green Card) until you have paid the fee.

When should I travel?

You must arrive in and apply for admission to the United States no later than the visa expiration date printed on your visa. An immigrant visa is usually valid for up to six months from the date of issuance unless your medical checkup expires sooner, which may make your visa valid for less than six months.

Entering the United States

When traveling to the United States, the first (or principal) applicant must enter before or at an equivalent time as derivative family members with visas. A visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials have authority to grant or deny admission. Learn about admission and entry requirements on the CBP website. When you are admitted, you will enter as a Lawful Permanent Resident, also called a green card holder, and will be permitted to work and live in the United States.

When You are a Permanent Resident – Learn more about your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident. You may also wish to review Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants.

Social Security Number – To learn about the U.S. Social Security Administration benefits available to Legal Permanent Residents, and how to apply for a social security number card, visit the Social Security Administration website.

If Your Visa is Denied

If your visa is denied, you will be told by the consular officer why you are ineligible to receive a visa. supported on U.S. law, not everyone who applies is qualified or eligible for a visa to return to the United States. Under U.S. law, many factors could make an applicant ineligible to receive a visa. For more information, please refer to Ineligibilities for U.S. Visas. In some instances, the law might allow you to apply for a waiver of the ineligibility. If you are ready  to apply for such a waiver, the consular officer will advise you on the steps to require. Please review the Visa Denials webpage for more detailed information.

In some situations the consular officer does not have sufficient information needed to process your application to conclusion, or you may be missing some supporting documentation. The consular officer will inform you if information or documents are missing and how to provide it.

Administrative Processing

Some visa applications may require further administrative processing.  When administrative processing is required, the consular officer will inform the applicant at the end of the interview. The duration of the executive processing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case. At the conclusion of the administrative processing period, the consular officer might conclude that an applicant is now qualified for the visa for which he or she applied. The officer may also conclude that the applicant remains ineligible for a visa.  

Except in cases of emergency travel (i.e. serious illnesses, injuries, or deaths in your immediate family), before making inquiries about status of administrative processing, applicants should wait a minimum of 180 days from the date of interview or submission of supplemental documents, whichever is later.

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