Immigration TRAVEL USA Immigration

Steps to Apply for an Immigrant Visa to the USA


Before filing for an immigrant visa, an individual who wants to immigrate to the United States must have a petition authorized by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition is filed at a USCIS office in the United States by a qualified relative or a potential employer. The USCIS website contains detailed information regarding submitting immigrant petitions. Individuals with an authorized petition and a current priority date for processing can apply for an immigrant visa or a K nonimmigrant visa.

Immigration law in the United States also allows for a category of immigrants known as “diversity immigrants,” who come from countries with historically low rates of immigration to the United States. Each fiscal year, a limited number of visas are made available. This article contains specific information regarding the requirements and steps for applying for an immigrant visa to the United States:

File A Petition

  • Petitioners who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents and live in the United States must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This can be done electronically or by the traditional paper approach via the mail.
  • Petitions Filled from Within the United States:
    Sponsors who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents who live in the United States must file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox facility, according to the guidelines on the USCIS website. Employers in the United States must file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, by the instructions on the USCIS website.
  • Petitions Filed from Outside the United States:
    While most immigrant visa petitions are filed in the United States, certain petitions can be filed outside of the country. Find out how to file a petition outside of the United States.

Case Preparation

After the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approves your immigrant visa petition, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, for immigrant visa pre-processing at the appropriate time. There are no yearly numerical restrictions for immediately related categories. However, the family preference and employment-based immigration categories are subject to numerical limits each year, resulting in lengthy wait times for processing to start.

Pay Fees

After getting your NVC Welcome Letter, the first thing you must do is pay your processing fees. There are two types of processing fees:

  • Processing Fee for Immigrant Visa Applications
  • Support Fee Affidavit

You will need a bank routing number and a checking or savings account number from a bank based in the United States.

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

Interview Scheduling

Once the National Visa Center has received all of the documentation required to complete its portion of the immigrant visa application procedure, it will send a letter to the petitioner or beneficiary confirming the day and time of the interview. This letter will also contain instructions regarding the measures to take before the interview.
After the interview, the NVC will forward all case documentation to the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy.

Fill Out The Affidavit Of Support

An Affidavit of Support, commonly known as Form I-864, is a document signed by an individual to assume financial responsibility for the applicant who will live in the United States. The “sponsor” is the person who signs the Affidavit of Support. The petitioner must complete form I-864; however, if the petitioner’s income is insufficient, a joint sponsor may agree to file an I-864 on the applicant’s behalf.

An Affidavit of Support is legally binding. The sponsor’s financial duty typically lasts until the applicant becomes a U.S. citizen or is credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work under the Social Security Act.

Medical Exam

All immigrant visa candidates must have a general medical exam at least two weeks before their planned interview date.
Please do not complete the physical examination until required by the National Visa Center (NVC) or the Consular Section of the Embassy.

The Embassy-approved doctors provide the test results in person to the Embassy before each applicant’s scheduled interview date. If the doctors give you the test, please do not open the sealed package. You must reschedule a doctor’s appointment and pay the test fees again if you do.

Collect Civil Paperwork

You and any family member accompanying you must gather the civil documents needed to support your visa application.
Your country’s official issuing authority must issue your civil documents.

Please keep in mind that any documents not in English or the official language of the nation from which you are applying must be accompanied by certified translations. The translation must include a signed statement from the translator saying that the translation is correct and that the translator is qualified to translate.

If a required document is not available according to the country-specific criteria, you do not need to scan it into your CEAC. If you cannot obtain a required document for any other reason, you must send a comprehensive written explanation to NVC when scanning your other documents.

The Interview

You will be expected to come for your interview at the time specified. Please remember to carry the necessary documentation.
Only the following individuals are permitted to attend the visa application during the interview:

  • The requester.
  • Visitors with specific needs: In the event of elderly or disabled people or minors, visa applicants may be accompanied.

If your visa is accepted, you will be able to pick up your passport around ten days after your interview at the DHL location you selected when you registered for your interview in our system.

Furthermore, after your interview, you will be given instructions on paying the USCIS immigrant fee for your residence card to be processed. Before traveling to the United States with your immigrant visa, this cost must be paid.

At the end of your interview, you will be told how, where, and when to pick up your visa and document packet. Your visa will be connected to your passport. Please double-check the details on your visa and the cover page of your packet, which will be closed and sealed.


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