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The Immigrant Visa Process

After the Interview

Important Notice

Do not sell your house, car or property,  resign from your job or make non-refundable flight or other travel arrangements until you have received your immigrant visa.

At the end of your immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate, the consular officer will inform you whether your visa application is approved or denied.

Visa approval - When approved, you will be informed how and when your passport and visa will be returned to you.

Visa denial - If denied, you will be informed why you are ineligible to receive a visa. Review About Visa Denials below and the Denials webpage for more detailed information.

Visa Approval - When You Receive Your Visa

Passport with Visa – Your immigrant visa will be placed on a page in your passport. Please review the printed information right away to make sure there are no errors. If there are any spelling errors, contact the embassy or consulate promptly. 

Sealed Immigrant Packet - You will also receive a sealed packet containing documents that you must present to U.S. Customs and Border Protection at a port-of-entry (often an airport) upon your arrival in the United States. You must not open the sealed packet. 

When You Should Travel - You must arrive and apply for admission in the United States no later than the visa expiration date printed on your visa. An immigrant visa is usually valid for up to six months from the date of issuance unless your medical examination expires sooner, which may make your visa valid for less than six months.

USCIS Immigrant Fee -  You must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you receive your immigrant visa and before you travel to the United States. Only children who enter the United States under the Orphan or Hague adoption programs, Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants, returning residents (SB-1s), and those issued K visas are exempt from this fee. Select USCIS Immigrant Fee on the USCIS website for more information. Important Notice: USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 or Green Card) until you have paid the fee.

Vaccination Records - Children are required to have certain vaccinations before they can enroll in school in the United States. Therefore, it is recommended that your child have complete vaccination records before immigrating. Learn about vaccination requirements by state on the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website under State Vaccination Requirements.

X-rays – Must be hand-carried with you, not packed in your luggage. 

Entering the United States

When traveling to the United States, the primary (or principal) applicant must enter before or at the same time as family members with visas. With your immigrant visa (before it expires), and sealed packet, you will travel to a U.S. port-of-entry (often an airport) and request permission to enter the United States. A visa does not guarantee 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. Learn about admission and entry requirements on the CBP website under Travel. When you are admitted, you will enter as a Lawful Permanent Resident, also called a green card holder, and will be permitted to work and live permanently in the United States.

When You are a Permanent Resident - Coming to the United States to live permanently, you will want to learn more about your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident. Also see Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants to review information on the USCIS website about living in the United States.

Social Security Number – To learn about the U.S. Social Security Administration benefits available to Legal Permanent Residents, and how to apply for a social security number card, visit the Social Security Administration website.

About Visa Denials

  • In some situations the consular officer does not have sufficient information needed to process your application to conclusion, or you may be missing some supporting documentation. The consular officer will inform you if information or documents are missing and how to provide it.
  • Some applications may require additional administrative processing after the interview before the application can be processed to conclusion. The consular officer will inform you if additional administrative processing is necessary.

Based on U.S. law, not everyone who applies is qualified or eligible for a visa to come to the United States. Under U.S. law, many factors could make an applicant ineligible to receive a visa. See Ineligibilities for U.S. Visas. In some instances, the law might allow you to apply for a waiver or the ineligibility. If you are able to apply for such a waiver, the consular will advise you on the steps to take.