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The Immigrant Visa Process

Documents the Applicant Must Submit to the NVC

Original Document Requirements

You and each family member immigrating with you to the United States must submit to the NVC original civil documents issued by an appropriate authority, or certified copies of those documents listed in this section.

Photocopy Requirements

You and each family member immigrating with you must also submit to the NVC a photocopy of the original documents or certified copies of the documents.

Translation Requirements

All documents not written in English, or in the official language of the country in which application for a visa is being made, must be accompanied by certified translations and submitted to the NVC. The translation must include a statement signed by the translator stating that the:

  • Translation is accurate, and
  • Translator is competent to translate.

Required Documents

Original documents, photocopies, and translations (if required, as explained above) of the following documents must be submitted to the NVC for you and each family member immigrating with you to the United States.

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Photocopy of Valid Passport Biographic Data Page

The applicant and each family member accompanying the applicant must submit a photocopy of the biographic data page from their respective valid passport.

Send a photocopy of your (and any family members’) biographic data page from valid passports. This is the page that shows your name, and your date and place of birth.

Note: Do NOT send passports to the NVC. Send only photocopies of the biographic data pages.

Photographs

You must submit two identical color photographs. Review Photograph Requirements for size specifications and more information.

Birth Certificates

You (and any family members immigrating with you to the United States) must obtain an original birth certificate issued by the official custodian of birth records in your country of birth, showing your date of birth, place of birth, and parentage. Important Notice: All Immigrant Visa applicants must submit a long form original birth certificate. Short form birth certificates will not be accepted.

The certificate must contain the:

  • Your date of birth
  • Your place of birth
  • Names of both parents
  • Indication by the appropriate authority that it is an extract from the official records

Unobtainable birth certificates

If your birth record is not obtainable for any reason, a certified statement must be obtained from the appropriate government authority explaining why your birth record is unavailable. You must also submit secondary evidence such as:

  • A baptismal certificate that contains the date and place of birth, as well as both parents names (providing the baptism took place shortly after birth)
  • An adoption decree for an adopted child
  • An affidavit from a close relative, preferably your mother, stating the date and place of birth, both parents names, and your mother’s maiden name.

More specific information is available from the NVC, the nearest U.S. immigrant visa processing post, or online at Reciprocity by Country.

Note: An affidavit executed before an official authorized to take oaths or affirmations must also be provided. More specific information is available from the NVC.

Adoption Documentation

If the intending immigrant child was adopted and if the child’s application to immigrate is based upon a parent-child relationship, then custody documentation is required.

If you are the adoptive parent and/or petitioner, you must provide:

  1. A certified copy of the adoption decree
  2. The legal custody decree if custody occurred before the adoption
  3. A statement showing dates and places where the child resided with the adoptive parents
  4. If the child was adopted when aged 16 or 17 years old, you must submit evidence that the child was adopted with, or subsequent to, the adoption of, a natural sibling under age 16 by the same adoptive parent(s).

Marriage Certificates

If you are married, you must obtain an original marriage certificate, or a certified copy, bearing the appropriate seal or stamp of the issuing authority.

Note: Marriage certificates from certain countries are unavailable. More specific information is available from the NVC, the nearest U.S. immigrant visa processing post, or online at Reciprocity by Country.

Marriage Termination Documentation

If you were previously married, you must obtain evidence of the termination of EACH prior marriage. Evidence must be in the form of original documents issued by an official authority, or certified copies bearing the appropriate seal or stamp of the issuing authority, such as:

  • FINAL divorce decree
  • Death certificate
  • Annulment papers

More specific information is available from the NVC, the nearest U.S. immigrant visa processing post, or online at Reciprocity by Country.

Military Records

If you served in the military forces of any country, you must obtain a copy of your military record.

Note: Military records from certain countries are unavailable. More specific information is available from the NVC, the nearest U.S. immigrant visa processing post, or online at Reciprocity by Country.

Police Certificates

Each visa applicant aged 16 years or older must submit police certificates.

You must submit police certificates which:

  • Cover the entire period of the applicant’s residence in that area
  • Have been issued by the appropriate police authority
  • Include all arrests, the reason for the arrest(s), and the disposition of each recorded case.

How to obtain a police certificate:

  1. Determine the countries from which a police certificate is required. Refer to the table below.

    Note: Present and former residents of the United States need NOT obtain any U.S. police certificates

  2. Contact the appropriate police authorities. Additional information on how to obtain a police certificate can be found on the Reciprocity by Country page.

    IMPORTANT NOTICE - ABOUT POLICE CERTIFICATES: Some countries require a specific Police Certificate Request form to properly request and obtain Police Certificate(s). The Reciprocity by Country page indicates those countries.

    Police certificates from certain countries are unavailable.

    More specific information is available from the NVC, the nearest U.S. immigrant visa processing post, or online at Reciprocity by Country.

An applicant must obtain a police certificate from the local police authority:

IF you…

AND…

have been living in your country of nationality at their current residence for more than 6 months

you are 16 years old or older

lived in a different part of your country of nationality for more than 6 months

you were 16 years or older at that time

lived in a different country for more than 12 months

you were 16 years or older at that time

were arrested for any reason

you were any age at the time of the arrest

Court and Prison Records

If you were convicted of a crime, you must obtain a certified copy of each court record and prison record, regardless of the fact that you may have subsequently been granted amnesty, a pardon or other act of clemency.

Court records should include:

  • Complete information about the circumstances of the crime
  • The disposition of the case, including sentence, fines or other penalties imposed

More specific information is available from the NVC, the nearest U.S. immigrant visa processing post, or online at Reciprocity by Country.

Petitioner Documents

If you are applying for an IR5 (Parent of a U.S. Citizen) visa, you are required to provide:

  1. Original or certified copy of your Petitioner’s birth certificate
  2. Original or certified copy of your Petitioner’s marriage certificate from the Petitioner’s current and all previous marriages

If you are applying for a F4 (Brother or Sister of a U.S. Citizen) visa you are required to provide:

  1. Original or certified copy of your Petitioners birth certificate

Deportation Documentation

If you have been previously deported or removed from the United States at the government expense, you must obtain Form I-212, Permission to Reapply After Deportation, from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, or from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate, and follow the instructions on that form.

Who's Involved

National Visa Center

After petition approval, the National Visa Center (NVC) handles processing for certain kinds of documents, sending them onward to U.S. Embassies & Consulates.

When and how to Contact NVC