How do I apply for an immigrant visa?

How do I apply for an immigrant visa?You can view the immigrant visa process as consisting of three main parts: the immigrant visa petition, the National Visa Center processing and the immigrant visa interview.

Step 1: Immigrant Visa Petition

The immigrant visa petition is a petition that you file with the government asking an immigrant visa be given to your spouse. The primary form for the petition package is the I-130 form, which is your request to the government for your spouse to be allowed to immigrate to the United States. This step in the process will take around five months on average. Some petitions are approved more quickly. On the other hand, when there is a backlog in the processing of the petitions, it may take several additional months for the government to process the form. If you have any questions about the current processing times, please let me know and I can give you an update based on what we are seeing with current cases. Once the petition is approved, the application package will be forwarded to the National Visa Center for the next step in the process.

Step 2: National Visa Center

It normally takes at least one month for an approved I-130 petition to reach the National Visa Center. Once the petition arrives at the National Visa Center, you will receive invoices for the immigrant visa and affidavit of support fees. After paying these fees, you will be able to submit the next set of documents needed for the immigrant visa process: the affidavit of support, the immigrant visa application and supporting documents. Once the National Visa Center reviews these documents, the National Visa Center will schedule your spouse for an immigrant visa interview at the United States embassy or consulate that handles immigrant visa applications for the area where your spouse lives.

Step 3: Immigrant Visa Interview

After the National Visa Center schedules the immigrant visa interview, the entire immigrant visa package will be sent to the embassy or consulate. Your spouse will receive information from the embassy or consulate on how to complete any additional steps prior to the visa interview, such as the required medical exam. If all goes well at the interview, your spouse will be given an immigrant visa that will allow travel to the United States. Your spouse will need to travel to the United States within six months of receiving the immigrant visa and will become a permanent resident upon entering the United States using the immigrant visa. Your spouse’s green card will arrive in the mail several weeks after your spouse arrives in the United States.

You should expect that the entire process will take between 7-12 months. In some cases it may take a little longer if the embassy has a backlog of cases that delays the scheduling of the visa interview.



About Kimberley Schaefer

Kimberley Schaefer is an immigration lawyer with offices in Boise, ID and Rexburg, Idaho. She helps future Americans become citizens by assisting them with immigrant visas, fiance visas, adjustment of status and green card applications, applying for immigration waivers, fighting deportation and applying for asylum. To contact her, you can call (208) 918-0852 or send Kimberley an email now.

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