U.S. Visas

English

Immigrate

CEAC FAQs

Logging into CEAC

ALL /
ALL /

What is CEAC?

The Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC) is the Department of State’s online visa application tool. You must use CEAC for both non-immigrant and immigrant visa applications. On this site, you can do things like pay fees, submit a visa application form, and track the status of your application.

ALL /
ALL /

How do I log into CEAC?

Immigrant visa applicants use their case ID number and invoice ID number to log into CEAC. The National Visa Center (NVC) will send you both of those numbers when they receive your approved petition from USCIS. Keep this information in a safe place.

ALL /
ALL /

Where do I find my NVC case number and invoice ID number?

The National Visa Center (NVC) will send you both of those numbers. After NVC receives your approved petition from USCIS, NVC creates a case file for you at the Department of State and assigns you an NVC case number. NVC will send you a letter or e-mail with your case number and a separate invoice ID number. Keep in mind that you cannot begin to pay fees or submit documents until you receive this letter from NVC instructing you to begin processing. 

ALL /
ALL /

Who can log into my CEAC account?

Upon receipt of your approved petition from USCIS, NVC will send your log-in information to you (the visa applicant), your petitioner in the United States, and your attorney (if you have designated one). If you want to share your information with anyone else, that is up to you. Keep in mind that if you add anyone’s email address to your case so they can receive updates and instructions – such as another family member or friend – that person will receive your log-in information. Make sure you only share this information with people you know and trust. Do not share information about your case on social media, and never give your case number to strangers.

ALL /
ALL /

Is my personal information on CEAC safe?

Your application information on CEAC is secure. You need two unique pieces of information to log into CEAC. To provide additional protection, users will be unable to view documents that contain Social Security numbers and sensitive financial information once they are submitted to CEAC. You will only be able to view them if NVC finds an error and asks you to delete the document and upload a new one.

Reading messages from NVC

ALL /
ALL /

Where do I find messages from NVC?

When NVC has an update to your case status or needs to ask you to submit additional information, they will post a message in your CEAC account. You can find these on the top-right of the summary page in a box titled “Messages.” Simply click on the message icon to be taken to the message screen, which resembles an email inbox. Whenever NVC puts a new message in your CEAC account, they will send an email to every email address listed on your case. This email will tell you to log into CEAC to read your message.

ALL /
ALL /

Can I send NVC a message?

Not at this time. If you have any questions about your immigrant visa application package, please contact NVC through one of the methods listed online.

ALL /
ALL /

I’m not getting alerts from NVC that there has been a change in my CEAC account.

Please check the “Email Addresses” section of your CEAC account to make sure that we have your correct email address. This section is on the right-hand side of your case’s summary page. Click on “Edit” to view all of the email addresses associated with your case. You can update email addresses for the petitioner, principal applicant, and third party agents here.  To update your attorney’s email address, please have them contact us by email at NVCattorney@state.gov.

Updating your contact information

ALL /
ALL /

How can I update my email address?

It is very important that you let NVC know if your email address changes, since that is our primary way of contacting you. It is easy to update your email address on CEAC. On the top-right area of your summary page, you will see a box that says “Email addresses.” Simply click on the “edit” button and you’ll be taken to a screen where you can delete, add, or change email addresses for you (the visa applicant), your petitioner, and any third-party agent you want to receive notifications about your case. However, at this time you cannot update your attorney’s information online. Attorneys need to contact NVC by email at NVCattorney@state.gov if there is a change to their contact information.

ALL /
ALL /

How do I update my mailing address or phone number?

To update the mailing address or phone number of anyone associated with a case, please contact NVC using one of the methods listed online. Remember that whenever you contact NVC please provide your case number, the name of the petitioner, and the name and date of birth of the principal visa applicant.

Adding or removing an attorney

ALL /
ALL /

Can I add an attorney or legal representative to my case?

Yes, if you hire an attorney he or she should submit to NVC a signed Form G-28 or letter on the legal firm’s letterhead. Your attorney should email this as an attachment to NVCattorney@state.gov

ALL /
ALL /

Can I remove an attorney or legal representative from my case?

Yes. A visa applicant can notify us in writing that he/she is no longer using an attorney’s services. The visa applicant should send that information to NVC using our online inquiry form. Also, an attorney can inform NVC directly that he/she is no longer working on a case. Please note that if NVC receives a signed Form G-28 from an attorney stating that he/she has been hired to work on a case and there is already an attorney listed on that case, NVC will honor the form that was most recently signed. The old attorney will be removed from the case, and the new attorney will be added. 

How to read the Affidavit of Support section:

This section shows the status of all the financial sponsors on a case. For family-based immigration, the petitioner is always listed as a financial sponsor. There will be a status listed for each sponsor in the three columns in the Affidavit of Support section:

ALL /
ALL /

Role

Petitioner/Primary Sponsor = Petitioners of family-sponsored immigration cases must submit an Affidavit of Support form, no matter their income level.

Joint Sponsor = The petitioner does not meet the required minimum income limit to sponsor an immigrating family member and has asked this person to be a joint sponsor.

Household Member = The petitioner does not meet the required minimum income limit to sponsor an immigrating family member and has asked a relative who lives with him/her to help sponsor the immigrant.

ALL /
ALL /

Affadavit of Support Fee

Start Now = You must pay this fee.

In Process = Your payment is being processed online.

Paid = The fee has been received by NVC. 

ALL /
ALL /

Affidavit of Support Documents and Financial Evidence

Start Now = You have not uploaded or submitted any documents for this sponsor.

Incomplete = The financial sponsor has started uploading documents but has not finished.

Not Submitted = You have uploaded all of the required documents but have not submitted them to NVC.

Submitted = The financial sponsor has uploaded and submitted all required documents, and NVC is now reviewing them.

Invalid Doc = NVC reviewed the required documents and something is incorrect or missing. The financial sponsor should go to the document screen to read NVC’s instructions and upload new documents.

Accepted = NVC reviewed the financial documents and there are no changes that need to be made.

How to read the Applicant Information section:

This section has a list of all the visa applicants associated with a single case number. There will be a status listed for each visa applicant under the four columns in the Applicant Information section:

ALL /
ALL /

Status

Principal Applicant = The person who is the main beneficiary of the immigrant petition. This person has a close family relationship with the petitioner in the United States, or is an employee of the sponsoring U.S. company.

Accompany = This visa applicant is a derivative family member of the principal applicant and will immigrate to the United States at the same time as his/her parent or spouse.

Follow-to-Join = This visa applicant is a derivative family member of the principal applicant and will immigrate to the United States much later than his/her parent or spouse. For that reason, this applicant is not going to submit a visa application package now and will not attend a visa interview until he/she is ready to immigrate.

ALL /
ALL /

IV Fee

Start Now = You must pay this fee.

In Process = Your payment is being processed online.

Paid = The fee has been received by NVC. 

ALL /
ALL /

IV Application

N/A = You haven’t paid the IV fee for this applicant. You won’t have access to the application form until the fee is paid.

Start Now = Begin filling out your application form.

Incomplete = You began working on your form but have not finished.

Re-opened = You completed your form but need to make a change. Only NVC or a U.S. Embassy can re-open a Form DS-260 for you.

Completed = You have submitted your form to NVC. 

ALL /
ALL /

Civil Documents

Start Now = No documents have been uploaded.

Incomplete = You started uploading documents but have not finished.

Not Submitted = You have uploaded all of the required documents but have not submitted them to NVC.

Submitted = You uploaded and submitted all required documents, and NVC is reviewing them.

Invalid Doc = NVC reviewed all the required documents and something is incorrect or missing. Please go to the document screen to read NVC’s instructions and upload new documents.

Accepted = NVC reviewed the documents and there are no changes that need to be made.

 

ALL /
ALL /

How often will the status of my case change?

The status on any required document, form, or fee will change whenever you take action on it or NVC reviews it. In most sections, the change in status will be immediate. However, when you pay a fee there will be a delay while the bank processes your payment request. This typically takes two to three business days. 

ALL /
ALL /

How do I read the status on the Affidavit of Support tab and Civil Documents tab?

You need to first choose the visa applicant or financial sponsor whose status you want to review. Then you can look at the status of each document that person submitted. Each document is listed in a column on the left. To the right of each document name are three columns: Date Uploaded, Status, and Response Note. Here is an example:


The Status column will reflect one of the following statuses:

Missing = You need to upload and submit this document.

Uploaded = You scanned and uploaded this document but you have not submitted it for NVC’s review.

N/A = You marked this document as not available.

Submitted = You submitted this document and it is with NVC for review.

Rejected = NVC reviewed this document and something is incorrect. Please look at NVC’s feedback to the right under “Response Note” and then correct and re-submit the document.

Accepted = NVC has reviewed this document and there are no changes that need to be made.

If NVC finds an error on a required document, they will reject the document and tell you what needs to be corrected. They will post their feedback to the right of the document, in the Response Note column. They will also send you a message in your CEAC account detailing what the error is and how to fix it. You then need to delete the rejected document, and upload a corrected document. After you submit it, NVC will review it.

Paying fees

ALL /
ALL /

Where can I find more information about the required fees?

Please visit our fee payment information page online.

ALL /
ALL /

How do I pay my fees?

There are two processing fees: the Immigrant Visa Application Fee and the Affidavit of Support Fee. Both of these fees should be paid online in your CEAC account. Simply click on “Pay Now” in either section on your case summary page.

The person paying the fee needs a valid e-mail address, a bank routing number, and a checking or savings account number from a U.S. bank. The image below shows the routing number, account number, and check number on a personal check. The order of these numbers may differ on your check and may include some special symbols different from those shown. You can contact your financial institution for specific details.

There is one Affidavit of Support Fee per case, no matter how many financial sponsors you have. The Immigrant Visa Application Fee is paid for each visa applicant. Multiple IV Fees can be paid at once. However, you cannot pay an Affidavit of Support Fee and an Immigrant Visa Application Fee in the same transaction. This means that you will have to choose one type of fee, provide the required information, and select “Pay Selected Fee.” Then you will have to repeat the process for the other type of fee.

Remember, fees should only be paid online in CEAC or at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You will never be asked to pay visa fees over the phone or to a third party.

ALL /
ALL /

Can I pay with a credit card?

No, CEAC currently does not accept credit cards. You must pay using a U.S. bank account.

ALL /
ALL /

Can someone else pay my fees?

Yes. You need only to provide U.S. bank account information to pay online. The bank account does not have to be in the visa applicant’s or petitioner’s name.

ALL /
ALL /

My session ended while I was in the middle of paying my fees. Do I have to start over?

The fee payment screen will automatically end after 20 minutes if you have not completed all data entry on the page and clicked the “Pay Selected Fee” or “Make Payment” button. If the session expires, any unsaved data will be lost. You will need to sign in again and re-enter any unsaved data on that page. Users will see a pop-up warning five minutes before automatic log-out. If the user clicks the “OK” button on that warning, the time will be reset to 20 minutes. 

ALL /
ALL /

I paid the fees but the status isn’t showing as “Paid.”

Once you submit your bank account information, there will be a delay while the bank processes your payment request. This typically takes two to three business days. During that time, your status will show as “In Process.” Once the bank confirms your payment, your status will change to “Paid.” You will then be able to open and complete the Form DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application.

Complete the visa application form

ALL /
ALL /

Where can I find more information about the immigrant visa application form?

Please visit our application form information page online.

ALL /
ALL /

How do I submit my visa application form?

On your CEAC case summary page, click on “Start now” under the “IV Application” column. That will take you to a page where you will begin filling out the Form DS-260. You complete this form online; do not print and scan it. You must complete each section of the form in order. The form automatically saves each time you move to a new page. For instructions, read our Frequently Asked Questions on the Form DS-260 online.

ALL /
ALL /

I can’t access the application form. It says “N/A” under “IV Application” in CEAC.

You will not have access to the Form DS-260 immigrant visa application until you pay the Immigrant Visa Fee. It is also not available to visa applicants whose status is “Follow to Join.” This means they are not immigrating at the same time as the principal applicant.

Remember that after you submit your bank account information, there will be a delay while the bank processes your payment request. This typically takes two to three business days. During that time, your status will show as “In Process.” Once the bank confirms your payment, your status will change to “Paid.” You will then be able to open and complete the Form DS-260 Immigrant Visa Application.

ALL /
ALL /

What information is requested on the application form?

The Form DS-260 has eight sections, and some sections have multiple pages. You must complete each section in order – you cannot jump ahead to another section. You should have the following information available before you start:

 

  • Biographical data from your passport and any passports you have (or had) from other countries.

  • Biographical data of your immediate family members (spouse and children), including dates and places of birth; address; and employment information.

  • Date and place of your current and previous marriages, and the names and dates of birth for previous spouses.

  • The addresses of all the places you have lived since age 16, and the dates you lived there.

  • The address where you plan to live in the United States.

  • Your education history, including address and dates.

  • Your work history, including address, dates, and the name and contact information of your supervisor.

  • Information on service in the military, including branch of service, rank, specialty, and dates.

  • Information on previous U.S. visas you were issued, including the visa category and visa number (this can be found on the visa itself).

  • Dates and length of stay of all trips you have made to the United States previously.

  • Your parents’ full names; dates and places of birth; current address; and dates and places of death (if applicable).

  • Contact information for your petitioner in the United States, including address, phone, and email.

  • You will also be asked to answer a series of questions about your medical, criminal, and security background, including previous immigration law violations.
ALL /
ALL /

I made an error; can I re-submit my application form?

Once you submit your application you will be unable to access it again without the assistance of NVC for immigrant visas, KCC for Diversity Visas, or the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at which you plan to apply.

ALL /
ALL /

I have moved since submitting my application form. Do I have to start over again?

No, you do not have to submit a new Form DS-260. However, any visa applicant whose case is with the Department of State should notify us when their contact information changes. If the case is being processed at the National Visa Center, they can alert NVC using one of the methods listed online. If the case is already at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas, please contact the consular section abroad. You can find contact information online.

It’s also important to know that after you immigrate to the United States, USCIS will mail your Form I-551 Permanent Resident Card, also known as a green card, to the address in the United States that you submit in your visa application form. If that address changes, make sure you tell the consular officer during your interview.

ALL /
ALL /

Do I need to print a copy of my completed Form DS-260 when I’m done?

No, all of the information from your application form will be sent to the Department of State electronically through CEAC. However, you should print a copy of the confirmation page with a barcode that appears after you successfully submit your Form DS-260. You will need to bring that to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy.

ALL /
ALL /

My session ended while I was in the middle of completing Form DS-260. Do I have to start over?

The Form DS-260 will automatically end after 20 minutes if you have not completed all data entry on the page and clicked either the “Back,” “Save,” or “Next” button at the bottom of the form. If the session expires, any unsaved data will be lost. You will need to sign in again and re-enter any unsaved data on that page. Users will see a pop-up warning five minutes before automatic log-out. If the user clicks the “OK” button on that warning, the time will be reset to 20 minutes.

When all the information has been entered on a page, click the “Next” button to move to the next page. Your data will automatically be saved every time you move to a new page. If you do not answer all of the questions on a page, you will not be allowed to move on. 

Changes to derivative family members

ALL /
ALL /

What is a derivative family member?

The beneficiary of an immigrant petition is considered the “principal” applicant. That person’s spouse and unmarried children who are younger than age 21 are considered “derivative” visa applicants. These derivative family members can apply for immigrant visas with the principal applicant. They must fill out required application forms, obtain required civil documents, pay the required fees, and undergo medical examinations. Same-sex spouses of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs), along with their minor children, are eligible for the same immigration benefits as opposite-sex spouses.

ALL /
ALL /

What if my derivative family member wants to wait to immigrate?

The principal applicant (the person who is named in the immigrant petition as the “beneficiary”) must enter the United States before or at the same time as other family members with visas. As long as the principal applicant spouse or parent has already immigrated to the United States, the derivative family member can wait to complete his or her visa application process. This is called “follow to join.”

However, the family member needs to consider these important points:

  • You should not attend a visa interview at an embassy overseas if you do not intend to immigrate right away. This is because immigrant visas expire quickly, at maximum six (6) months from the date of the required medical exam. Your visa cannot be extended and all fees are nonrefundable.

  • Children of U.S Citizens must enter the United States before they turn 18 years old; otherwise they lose the ability to automatically become a U.S. citizen under the Child Citizenship Act.

  • A derivative child who may be eligible for benefits under the Child Status Protection Act could lose those protections if they do not pursue Lawful Permanent Residence within a year of a visa becoming available to them.

  • You must ensure your application does not terminate. To do this, you must contact NVC at least once a year. 
ALL /
ALL /

How do I change a derivative family member’s status to “follow-to-join”?

If the case is at the National Visa Center, you can make this change in CEAC. On the case summary page’s status chart, there is a list of visa applicants under “Applicant Information.” To change the traveling status of a derivative family member to follow-to-join, click on the drop-down box in the “Status” column. Select “Follow-to-join.” Alternately, if your family member decides to travel with you to the United States, you can select “Accompanying.”

Once you make this change, the applicant’s status will read “Under Review.” It will take approximately one hour before the change to “Follow-to-join” or “Accompanying” shows in CEAC’s status chart.

If your case has already been scheduled for a visa interview and your family member decides to change his/her traveling status, please contact the U.S. Embassy right away.

ALL /
ALL /

What if my derivative family member's contact information changes?

Any visa applicant whose case is with the Department of State should notify us when their contact information changes. If the case is being processed at the National Visa Center, they can alert NVC using one of the methods listed online. If the case is already at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas, please contact the consular section abroad. You can find contact information for the embassy online.

ALL /
ALL /

How do I add a derivative family member to my case?

On the case summary page’s status chart, there are two buttons under “Applicant Information.” To add or remove a family member from your case, click on the appropriate button. You will have to enter information about your family member, including name, address, email, and relationship to you. The new derivative visa applicant’ name will then appear on the list of applicants and you will have to pay the Immigrant Visa Fee, complete a Form DS-260 application, and upload civil documents for that person. However, it will take approximately one hour after adding a family member before the option to pay the Immigrant Visa Application Fee is active.

Note that some visa categories are only for unmarried persons, and a change in marital status could make you ineligible for that visa category. Typically eligibility for a visa category depends on the legal status of the petitioning family member in the United States, your age, and your marital status. You can find a list of immigrant visa categories on our website with details on the eligibility requirements for each type of immigrant visa.