Step 1: Submit the petition
US citizens and petitioners who are lawful permanent residents residing in the United States must file Form I-130, “Foreign Relative Petition” to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This can be done electronically, or with traditional postal paper processing.
Step 2: Begin processing at the National Visa Center (NVC)
After USCIS approves your petition, it will refer your case to the State Department’s National Visa Center (NVC) for pre-processing. The first step in this process is to create a case in our system. After this is done, we will send you a welcome letter via email or regular mail. Using the information in this letter, you can log in to the Electronic Consular Applications Center (CEAC) to verify your status, receive letters, and manage your case.
Once you submit the supporting drawings, forms, and documents to the NVC, we will review your case to ensure that you provide all the necessary documents to arrange your immigrant visa interview. The interview is based on the dating opportunities provided by the Embassy / Consulate.
To identify the situations the NVC is currently reviewing, please refer to the NVC Date Range page on the left navigation bar.
The number of visas for certain categories is restricted each year
United States law limits the number of immigrant visas available annually in certain visa categories. This means that even if USCIS approves the immigrant visa application on your behalf, you may not get an immigrant visa number right away. Additionally, United States law also restricts the number of specific class visas available in certain countries. For limited categories, the availability of an immigrant visa number depends on the date on which the petition is filed and the number of other people waiting for the same category of visa. The date you filed your petition is called your priority date.
The priority date is published in the Visa bulletin every month, which provides the last priority date for the case the NVC handles. Please note that when the NVC tries to contact all applicants when their visa numbers are available, you can also use the visa bulletin issued by the US Department of State to verify whether you can apply for a visa. If you have a visa and the NVC has not yet contacted you, please let us know using our general inquiry form.
Step 3: Pay the fees
After receiving the welcome letter from the NVC, the first thing you need to do is pay a handling fee. There are two types of processing fees:
- Immigrant visa application processing fee
- Certificate of support
Complete the support statement
A Certificate of Support (also known as Form I-864) is a document signed by an individual to bear the financial responsibility of an applicant who is about to live in the United States. The person who signs the affidavit of support is also called a ‘sponsor’. Applicants must fill out Form I-864; however, if the petitioner’s income is insufficient, the co-sponsor can also agree to fill out Form I-864 on the applicant’s behalf.
Corroborating testimony has a legal effect. The financial responsibility of the guarantor usually continues until the applicant becomes a US citizen or obtains credit for 40 eligible employers (typically 10 years) under the Social Security Act.