After Your Visa Interview
A consular officer can make a decision on a visa application only after reviewing the formal application and interviewing the applicant. There is no guarantee that you will receive a visa. 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.
If more information is needed
Sometimes a consular officer is unable to make a decision on a visa application because he/she needs to review additional documents or the case requires further administrative processing. When additional documents are requested, the consular officer will give you a refusal letter that specifies the additional document(s). Some of these documents may be uploaded to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC). However, if an original document was requested, it can be dropped at the Embassy on specific day and period of time mentioned on the temporary refusal letter if you were provided one at the interview.
Administrative processing takes additional time after the interview. Most administrative processing is resolved within 60 days. However, the timing varies based on the circumstances of each case. Before inquiring about the status of administrative processing, please wait at least 60 days after your interview.
What happens after visa approval
Passport, Visa, and Sealed Immigrant Packet – We will place your immigrant visa on a blank visa page in your passport. Please review your passport before your interview to ensure that you have sufficient pages for a visa. When you receive your visa, check to make sure that there are no errors in your name, gender, marital status, or date of birth. We may also give you a sealed envelope containing documents that you must give to U.S. immigration authorities when you arrive in the United States for the first time. Do not open this envelope. You must carry it with you; do not put it in your checked luggage. If you receive a CD containing X-rays after your medical examination, carry this on you.
In the case of some applicants whose documents were processed by NVC electronically, the sealed immigrant packet is no longer required for admission to the United States. If you do not receive this packet, consular staff will explain why, and your visa will be annotated to reflect the absence of the packet to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
USCIS Immigrant Fee – All individuals who are issued immigrant visas overseas must pay an Immigrant Fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) prior to traveling to the United States. This fee is for processing your residency status and printing your Permanent Resident Card, which you will need to evidence to a potential employer of your right to work. The only immigrant visa holders exempt from paying this fee are: children entering the United States under the Hague Process, biological children of U.S. citizens entering the United States before the age of 18, returning residents, and those traveling on a fiancé(e) (K) visa or follow-to-join Asylee/Refugee boarding foil.
When You Should Travel – You must enter the United States before the expiration date on your visa, which is no more than six months from your medical exam date. If you do not use your visa by the expiration date, you will need to reapply and pay all the relevant fees again, including medical exam and application fees. The principal applicant must enter before or at the same time as other family members with visas. Biological children of a U.S. citizen who are turning 18 prior to the expiration of the visa are highly advised to enter before the 18th birthday if the family wishes to have the child benefit from the Child Citizenship Act. Unless they are eligible for benefits under the Child Status Protection Act, children who are issued a visa before turning 21 years of age must enter the United States before the 21st birthday to avoid losing their right to immigrate.
Getting a Green Card – Your Form I-551 Permanent Resident Card, also known as a green card, will be automatically mailed to the address in the United States that you write in your visa application form. This is a very important document that proves you have permission to reside and work in the United States, so it is important that you provide the U.S. Embassy with the best address where you expect to reside at the time of your interview.
If you plan to travel outside the U.S. before your green card arrives: Please consult USCIS’s and CBP’s websites for rules about what documents you need to re-enter the country. We also recommend you check with the airline to ensure you are in compliance with their rules. Once your card is issued, you should not remain outside of the United States for more than one year. If you do, you may lose your status as a Lawful Permanent Resident and be denied entry at a U.S. Port of Entry. You will then need to start the immigration process anew.
Children’s Issues – In the United States, children are required to have certain vaccinations before they can enroll in school. We recommend that you bring a copy of your child’s complete vaccination records with you to the United States. If your child is adopted, or you have full custody as a result of a divorce, or you share custody with another parent, you should bring a copy of all applicable adoption or custodial papers from the authoritative court in your home country. You will need these papers (translated into English) for issues such as school enrollment, medical care, and eventual citizenship.
Information for New Immigrants – Please visit the USCIS web page for helpful information on moving to the United States. You can read their publication “Welcome to the United States: A Guide for New Immigrants” online.
back to top