Spouse and Unmarried Minor Children Abroad Following to Join a Refugee or Asylee in the United States (with Approved Form I-730 Petition)
Welcome to the webpage dedicated to follow-to-join refugee and asylee processing. You have come to this webpage if you received an e-mail or letter from the National Visa Center (NVC) requesting that you take a specific action or if you are looking for general information on follow-to-join processing. Find the requested action and information in the list below and click or scroll to visit that section of the page.
Using a Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition, a person who has been granted asylum or refugee status in the United States (the petitioner) may petition to have his or her spouse and/or unmarried child(ren) (beneficiaries) follow-to-join him or her in the United States. Overseas, the beneficiaries of Forms I-730 filed by asylees are known as follow-to-join asylees. Beneficiaries of Forms I-730 filed by refugees are known as follow-to-join refugees.
In an effort to improve the processing of these follow-to-join cases, we began testing new procedures on March 31, 2011. Under the new procedures, the National Visa Center (NVC) collects original documents, and petitioners receive instructions and information on case processing from the NVC via email or mail. These new procedures are only in use at the overseas locations listed below.
Important Note: The following processing steps apply only at the U.S. embassy pilot locations listed below.
|Accra, Ghana||Lima, Peru||Rome, Italy|
|Addis Ababa, Ethiopia||London, United Kingdom||San Jose, Costa Rica|
|Athens, Greece||Manila, Philippines||San Salvador, El Salvador|
|Bogotá, Colombia||Mexico City, Mexico||Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic|
|Ciudad Juarez, Mexico||Monterrey, Mexico||Seoul, South Korea|
|Frankfurt, Germany||Moscow, Russia||Tashkent, Uzbekistan|
|Guatemala City, Guatemala||New Delhi, India||Tegucigalpa, Honduras|
|Havana, Cuba||Port-au-Prince, Haiti||Vienna, Austria|
|Johannesburg, South Africa||Quito, Ecuador||Yaoundé, Cameroon|
After a Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition, is filed with and approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States, if the beneficiary of the approved petition is located overseas, the case is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC) to begin the steps in the overseas follow-to-join process.
Important note: When you are preparing to send the required original civil documents to the NVC, make sure you photocopy each document to be submitted; these copies should be provided to the officer by the beneficiary at the time of overseas interview.
The NVC will send a notice to the petitioner instructing him or her to send available original civil documents and other materials that support the Form I-730 petition to the NVC. Be sure to retain copies of all documents. The requested documents include:
Note: Documents written in a language other than English must be accompanied by a certified English translation. When the beneficiary is interviewed overseas, the interviewing officer may ask for additional information, such as photographs and other proof that the relationship with the U.S. petitioner is genuine.
The petitioner must ensure that the NVC has the most up-to-date mailing address, and e-mail address if possible, where correspondence related to the petition should be sent.
Step 2: Case Transfer Overseas by the NVC
When all required supporting civil documents and other requested materials are submitted to the NVC, or the petitioner informs the NVC that the documents are not readily available, the NVC will send the case files, containing the petition and all documents submitted by or on behalf of a beneficiary, to the USCIS office or Consular Section at the U.S. embassy overseas that will interview the beneficiary.
Step 3: Interview Scheduling and Preparation
At the time the case is transferred to an overseas office, the NVC will notify the petitioner via email or regular mail (if no email address is available) about how to schedule the beneficiary’s interview appointment, and direct the petitioner to resources outlining steps the beneficiary must take to prepare for the interview. The beneficiary interview requires careful preparation, including having all required original documents available for the interview. Some beneficiaries also must complete a medical examination prior to interview.
All follow-to-join refugee and asylee beneficiaries must be interviewed by a USCIS officer or Department of State consular officer at a U.S. embassy. When a case is ready for interview, the NVC will send the petitioner a letter with instructions explaining how the beneficiary can schedule an interview appointment. The letter also will identify the USCIS office or U.S. embassy where the interview will take place. For information on how to schedule an interview appointment, please see the website of the USCIS office or U.S. embassy indicated on the NVC notice.
Failure by a beneficiary to schedule an interview appointment will result in processing delays. It is critical that the overseas office conducting the beneficiary interview has the current contact information – including physical and mailing addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses – for the petitioner, beneficiary, and if applicable, the representative of record on the case.
For interviews conducted by the Consular Section: Please visit Interview Preparation – Interview Guidelines for information on how to prepare for an interview at the U.S. embassy.
For interviews conducted by an overseas USCIS office: After the interview is scheduled, the USCIS office will send the beneficiary a confirmation notice, which will outline the requirements that the beneficiary must complete before his or her interview.
The required documents include:
Important Notice: Follow-to-join asylee beneficiaries must complete their medical exam before their interviews with a USCIS officer or Department of State consular officer, and they will be responsible for paying the cost of the medical examination. Follow-to-join refugee beneficiaries typically are instructed to complete their medical exams after their interviews, and the U.S. Government pays all costs associated with the medical examination.
Before the issuance of a follow-to-join refugee or asylee boarding foil, every beneficiary, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination, which must be performed by an authorized panel physician. See Medical Examination for more information, including a list of panel physicians by country and frequently asked questions.
Follow-to-join refugee and asylee beneficiaries are encouraged to get certain vaccinations. Although vaccinations are not required prior to travel to the United States, they will be required when adjusting status to that of lawful permanent resident. Beneficiaries are therefore encouraged to fulfill these vaccination requirements at the time of the medical examination. See Vaccination Requirements for IV Applicants for the list of vaccinations.
Once a case has been transferred by the NVC to the appropriate USCIS office or U.S. embassy, the length of time needed to complete the case varies according to its circumstances, and cannot be predicted with any accuracy. (It is important to provide correct postal addresses and telephone numbers, and email addresses, if available, for both the petitioner and the beneficiary, to the U.S. embassy processing the case. See Case Inquiries below). Some cases require further administrative processing, which takes additional time after the beneficiary’s interview by a USCIS officer or Department of State consular officer.
Please visit My Case Status on the USCIS website to obtain a status on an I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition. If the case has been transferred overseas by the NVC, the petitioner or beneficiary may contact the USCIS office or U.S. embassy processing the case for information.
Certain conditions and activities may make the beneficiary ineligible for admission to the United States. If a beneficiary is ineligible, he or she will be informed by the USCIS officer or Department of State consular officer at the time of interview, and advised whether there is a waiver of ineligibility and what the waiver process is. Ineligible cases are returned to the USCIS Service Centers that initially approved them for further action.
There is no cost to file a Form I-730, Refugee/Asylee Relative Petition. There is no cost to schedule a Form I-730 beneficiary interview.
If petitioners, beneficiaries, or representatives have a question concerning a follow-to-join refugee or asylee case in progress at a USCIS office or U.S. embassy, first contact the appropriate USCIS office or U.S. embassy for status information. Case status information also is available on the USCIS website under My Case Status.
Before making an inquiry, petitioners and representatives should carefully review this website for answers to questions. Because of the volume of inquiries received, USCIS and the Department of State cannot promise an immediate reply to an inquiry.