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An immigrant visa is a document issued by a U.S. consular officer abroad that allows an individual to travel to the United States and apply for admission as a legal permanent resident (LPR).

Who needs an immigrant visa?immigrant visa

Only individuals who are outside of the U.S. need immigrant visa. Individuals who are already in the U.S. do not need immigrant visa they can adjust status without leaving the U.S. if they are in lawful status.

Who may petition for immigrant visa?

In order to receive an immigrant visa, usually, the relative or employer must file on behalf of a person. However, certain individuals such as priority workers, investors, certain special immigrants, and diversity immigrants can file petitions or applications on his or her behalf.

Once the petitioner’s application is approved, check the Priority Date at Visa Bulletin.  If the priority date is current or once it becomes current, the case will be transferred to the National Visa Center if the beneficiary of the petition is abroad.  Immediate relatives have special immigration priority and do not have to wait in line for a visa number to become available for them to immigrate because there are an unlimited number of visas for their particular categories.  Establish communication with the National Visa Center to start the National Visa Processing.

Documents required for immigrant visa.

As soon as you  receive a letter from the National Visa Center submit the following documents to the National Visa Center in order to apply for immigrant visa:

After submitting the Form DS-260 online, print the confirmation page.

All applicants must:

  1. Obtain and submit required supporting civil documents.
  2. Obtain and submit photographs that meet the Department of State’s visa requirements.
  3. Review the information specific to U.S. Embassy/Consulate General where the visa interview will occur.


NVC will send you a list of documents to submit to NVC once you file your DS-260. Here is the list of the documents to prepare

  1. Photocopies of Supporting Documents:
  • Valid, unexpired passport…………………
  • Birth Certificate with translation……….
  • Adoption Documentation………………….
  • Marriage Certificate with translation….
  • Marriage Termination with translation.
  • Court Records with translation…………..
  • Military Records with translation………
  • Police Certificate(s) with translation…
  • 2. Signed Affidavit of Support(s)
  • Proof of U.S. Status………………………..
  • Proof of Domicile……………………………
  • Petitioner’s Civil Documents……………..
  • Proof of relationship (only for I-864A)
  • Evidence of Income…………………………
  • Form(s) W-2…………………………………..
  • IRS Tax Transcript………………………….
  • Federal Income Tax Returns…………….
  • Social Security Earnings Statement……
  • Proof of Assets………………………………..

To check if the documents are available in your country check at the website for Department of State Also, only send photocopies of your civil documents.

Interview for immigrant visa

You must bring the confirmation page to your visa interview. Your visa interview cannot be scheduled until your supporting documentation is complete and correct.

Every alien is required to personally appear before a consular officer in order to receive immigrant visa. This requirement may be waived only for a child under 14. Civil and personal documents may differ from country to country, depending on availability. There may be either additional instructions for obtaining civil documents in a specific country or additional documents required, depending on the U.S. embassy or consulate where you will apply. Select the embassy or consulate where you will apply to learn what additional requirements there are, if any.

The consular office may require the alien applicant to produce documents such as police certificates, prison records, military records, birth certificates, marriage licenses, or any other documents. Certain applicants are inadmissible to the U.S. Grounds for inadmissibility including: drug crimes, crimes of moral turpitude, prostitution, terrorist activities, etc. INA: ACT 212 describes general classes of Aliens ineligible to receive visas and ineligible for admission. The medical examination is only valid for 6 months so make sure that it is valid.

During the interview with a consular officer, you will be required to sign your application by providing a biometric signature, i.e. your fingerprint. By providing this biometric signature, you are certifying under penalty of perjury that you have read and understood the questions in your immigrant visa application and that all statements that appear in your immigrant visa application have been made by you and are true and complete to the best of your knowledge and belief. Furthermore, at the time of your interview, you will be required to certify under penalty of perjury that all statements in your application are correct and complete to your knowledge and belief.

How long immigrant visa is good for?

immigrant visa

Library of congress

When the consular office approves the petition for an immigrant visa, it grants an alien immediate relative preference status.

The immigrant visa is good for 6 months. There are two exceptions:

1) Generally, in order to receive a visa, the alien’s passport must be valid at least for 2 months beyond the expiration of the immigrant visa. If the immigrant’s passport is valid for less than 8 months, the immigrant visa will be issued for less than 6 months.

2) The child according to immigration law is one who is unmarried and under 21. The immigrant visa will be issued for less than 6 months if the child is turning 21 during the following 6 months.

Even when an individual has an immigrant visa issued to him, admission to the U.S. still can be denied if the individual committed a crime, or if an individual seeks admission as a spouse, but subsequent to visa issuance and prior to admission the marriage ended in divorce or dissolution.

Also, if a person received an immigrant visa but his or her I-212 waiver is still pending, the immigrant visa is not valid.

Entry to the U.S. as an immigrant with immigrant visa

You have to have three documents with you to enter the U.S. as an immigrant: your passport, your immigrant visa, and your medical report in a sealed envelope. Your inspection will take place in the first city in the U.S. that you are flying to. It is usually New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, or Chicago D.C. on the East Cost. So, even if your final destination is, for example, Cincinnati, OH,  your immigration interview and fingerprinting will take place at your first stop in the U.S.  Upon satisfactory document review an immigration office will place an I-551 stamp in individual’s passport – this is individual’s temporary green card, which is valid for one year. One will receive an actual “green card” by mail in few months. An individual admitted as permanent resident does not need employment authorization; an individual can start working right away.  An immigrant should apply at the Office of Social Security for her or his social security card.


Frequently Asked Questions

My wife and I are Legal Permanent Residents and our newborn was born outside US. Do I need to obtain an immigrant visa to  bring the child back to the US as it will be my first entry back into US?

A: child under two years of age who was born of a Permanent Resident Alien mother during a temporary visit abroad does not require an immigrant visa in order to travel to the United States if the alien parent is in possession of a valid Form I-551 (i.e. green card), a valid reentry permit, or an SB-1 visa. The child must be admitted to the U.S. within two years of birth and the accompanying parent must be applying for readmission upon first return after the birth of the child. The accompanying parent carry documentary evidence of his or her relationship to the child, including the child’s passport and birth certificate .

My case is in Administrative processing. It is more than 4 months after I was interviewed at U.S. Embassy. How long will it take to receive my immigrant visa?

Unfortunately there is not a set timetable for “administrative processing.” It really depends on the reason for the administrative processing how long it will take — fraud, suspected criminal or terrorist ties, your name or birth date matching someone with serious problems, investigation on the authenticity of a document?

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