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U.S. Visas

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After Your Petition is Approved

Petitions (Forms I-130 and Forms I-140) approved by USCIS in the United States are sent to the Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC) for pre-processing. When your petition becomes current, or is likely to become current within one year, the NVC initiates immigrant visa pre-processing, including collecting visa fees, forms, and documents from sponsors (petitioners) and immigrant visa applicant(s).

Number of Visas Each Year is Limited in Some Categories

United States laws limit the number of immigrant visa numbers available each year in certain visa categories. This means that even if USCIS approves an immigrant visa petition for you, you may not get an immigrant visa number immediately. In addition, U.S. law also limits the number of visas available in certain categories by country. For limited categories, the availability of immigrant visa numbers depends on the date your petition was filed. This is called your priority date. 

Next Steps

The next steps in the process for family and employment based petitions varies by immigrant category, as explained below:

If a petition was filed on your behalf as: Then:
Spouse of a U.S. citizen Number is not limited. 

Next: Begin NVC Processing
Unmarried child (under age 21) of a U.S. citizen
Parent of a U.S. citizen who is age 21 or older
Adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens Number is limited each year. 

Next: Check Priority Dates
Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens
Spouses and children of U.S. lawful permanent residents
Employment based, except for certain special immigrants

The NVC performs immigrant visa pre-processing, including collecting visa fees, forms, and documents from sponsors (petitioners) and immigrant visa applicant(s). Therefore, it is important to await contact from the NVC for next step instructions before you pay fees or submit any forms or documents.

NVC will notify you when your case becomes current or is likely to become current within a year, and will ask you to begin next steps in processing your approved petition.