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Applying for a U.S. Immigrant Visa

Published on Oct 6, 2020

by CEYDA KALKANCI, GIRK CAKMAK, ALI CAGATAY UCAR

Traveling to the U.S. while being a citizen of another country, requires an immigrant visa. The visa needs to be issued by the traveler’s country of citizenship. Immigrant visa processing time usually varies depending on the country and current events. There are many steps to follow in the Immigrant Visa Process. Here are the Immigrant visa processing steps:

Step 1 - Submit a Petition

Submitting a petition is the first step in the application process. It can be done from outside or inside the U.S. either electronically or by mail.

- Filling Petitions from inside the US

Form I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition for Alien Worker is a form submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) by a prospective employer to petition an alien to work in the US on a permanent basis, when qualified workers do not exist in the U.S. I-140 immigrant visa petition processing time depends on the country and current events.

- Filling Petitions from Outside the US

Even though most immigration visa petitions are filed from inside the U.S., there are some circumstances that require Form I-130 to be filled online.

- Petition Approval

Once the immigrant visa petition form is filed, it will be evaluated and may be approved by the USCIS district office.

Step 2 - NVC Processing

After USCIS approves the petition, the case will be transferred to the Department of State's NVC for pre-processing. The first step in NVC document processing will be the creation of the case in NVC’s system. Once this is complete, a Welcome Letter will be sent by e-mail or physical mail. With the information in this letter, applicants can log in to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) to check the status, receive messages, and manage the case. Once the required documents have been submitted to NVC, an interview will be scheduled. NVC processing time changes weekly and applicants can check the updates at this link.

Step 3 - Pay Fees

Upon receiving the NVC Welcome Letter, the first thing that the applicant needs to do is to pay the processing fees as an immigrant visa fee. There are two processing fees: Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee and Affidavit of Support Fee. To pay immigrant visa fee, the applicant needs a bank routing number and a checking or savings account number from a U.S. based bank.

Step 4 - Affidavit of Support

Form I-864, Affidavit of Support (also referred to as an Affidavit of support letter for immigration), is a document that is legally required to be prepared, signed and submitted by an individual sponsor when petitioning for the beneficiary (who is coming to live in the U.S.) to receive a green card. You can view or download a sample of affidavit of support letter for immigration and understand how to write an affidavit of support for immigration via this link.

Step 5 - Financial Documents

Sponsor who filled the affiliation of support is required to collect some financial documents that show their financial status. You can use the Financial Evidence Assistant to find out which immigration visa financial documents you need.

Step 6 - Online Application

The case status in CEAC will be updated as “Paid” after the immigrant visa application fees are paid online. This is where the applicant must complete the Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (Form DS-260). Once filled, this form needs to be printed out and brought to the interview with a U.S. consular officer.

Step 7 - Civil Documents

After filling Form DS-260, the civil documents for a U.S. immigrant visa need to be collected. These documents must be issued by the official issuing authority in the originating country. Also, if they are not written in English, they must be translated and certified. The translation must include a signed certificate stating that the translation is accurate and the translator is competent to translate. If you are wondering where to translate documents for immigration, you can use online translation platforms, such as MotaWord to have the immigrant visa civil documents translated fast and accurately. Your translations will be certified at no extra cost to comply with the USCIS standards. Here you can get an instant quote.

Step 8 - Scan and Submit Documents

Once all necessary documents have been collected, the applicant needs to scan and save them.

Step 9 - Interview

After the National Visa Center (NVC) schedules your immigration interview appointment and sends the date and time by email, you must take the steps before the interview date. After that, a consular officer will interview you (and accompanying family member beneficiaries) and determine whether or not you are eligible to receive an immigrant visa. You can get detailed information about the immigrant visa interview.

Step 10 - After the Interview

What happens after immigrant visa interview is that the U.S. consular officer lets you know that your Immigrant Visa is approved, the visa will be placed on a page of your passport. Before entering the U.S. and right after you receive your visa, you must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. You must enter the country no later than the printed date on your passport. It will usually be six months from the date your visa is approved. Your visa does not guarantee your 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. If your visa is denied, you will be informed by the consular officer why you are not eligible for a visa. In some cases the law might allow you to apply for a waiver of the ineligibility. Then, you will be advised by the U.S. consular officer to take other steps.


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