After the immigrant visa petition filed in the U.S. has been approved by USCIS, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) for the next steps in the process. The NVC collects immigrant visa application(s) with supporting civil documents and Affidavits of Support with supporting financial documents, as well as the required fee payments for U.S. Embassies and Consulates abroad in advance of the visa interview.
Step 1: Establish Communication and Register an Address and Agent
The immigrant visa application process involves completion and submission of various required forms and payment of fees. At the beginning of the process, the principal visa applicant must give the NVC the mailing address, and e-mail address if possible, where correspondence related to the petition should be sent.
Step 2: Pay Fees
The NVC will send the Immigrant Visa Application Processing fee invoice to the applicant or the applicant's designated agent. If appropriate for the visa category being pursued, the NVC will send the Affidavit of Support fee invoice to the petitioner. If an attorney is representing the applicant, the attorney will receive both invoices.
Step 3: Establish Financial Support
Many immigrant visa categories require sponsors who agree who to accept financial responsibility for the immigrant visa applicant(s). The sponsoring petitioner must submit the appropriate version of Form I-864, Affidavit of Support, to legally assume that responsibility. They must also submit financial evidence proving their qualifications to support the applicant. To learn about specific sponsorship requirements visit the USCIS Affidavit of Support web page.
Stage 4: Submit Visa Application & Supporting Documents
The immigrant visa applicant(s) must apply for an immigrant visa by paying the required application fee(s) and then submitting an Immigrant Visa Application with the required supporting civil documents to the NVC (as examples, birth certificates, marriage certificates, as applicable to the particular type of visa applied for).
Stage 5: Review and Interview Scheduling by the NVC
When the NVC has received all required Immigrant Visa Application(s) and supporting civil documents, the NVC will forward them to the interviewing U.S. Embassy/Consulate, schedule an interview for the visa applicant(s) with a consular officer there, and will notify all parties of the interview date and time.
Stage 6: Visa Interview at the U.S. Embassy/Consulate Abroad
At the U.S. Embassy/Consulate, a consular officer will interview the visa applicant(s) and determine whether to issue a visa or not. The visa interview requires careful preparation, including completion of a medical examination before the interview and having all required original documents available for the visa interview.
After the visa(s) is issued, the immigrant visa applicant(s) travels to a U.S. port of entry where their visa packet will be reviewed by a Department of Homeland Security officer who has final authority to grant admission to the United States.