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U.S. Visas

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Immigrate

Step 5: Collect Supporting Documents

After you collect your financial forms and supporting financial evidence, you and each family member immigrating with you to the United States should collect the civil documents that are required to support your visa application. You need to: 

  • Gather the documents that apply to you using the information below.
  • Send a photocopy of all required civil documents to NVC. (see submission instructions in Step 6).
  • Bring the original documents (or certified copies) plus a photocopy to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

All documents not written in English, or in the official language of the country in which you are applying for a visa, must be accompanied by certified translations. The translation must include a statement signed by the translator stating that:

  • The translation is accurate, and
  • The translator is competent to translate.

Your civil documents must be issued by an appropriate authority in your country. Use the Document Finder tool below to learn about the requirements for each country.

Then review each category of civil documents listed below, and obtain any that apply to you or your immigrating family members. You will submit photocopies of these documents to NVC in Step 6.

Document Finder

Please go to U.S. Visa: Reciprocity and Civil Documents by Country and select the country that issued your civil document.

Important Notice on Missing Documents: If a required document is unavailable per the country-specific guidelines in the Document Finder tool, you do not need to submit them to NVC. However, if you cannot obtain a required document for another reason, you must submit a detailed written explanation to NVC when you submit your other documents. The consular officer will then determine at the time of the visa interview whether you must obtain the missing document before a visa can be issued. As a general rule, any document that is listed as “available” on the Document Finder tool must be reviewed by a consular officer. Failure to obtain all required documents will delay your case.

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Adoption Documentation

If an intending immigrant child was adopted and if the child’s application to immigrate is based upon a parent-child relationship, then you must submit the below custody documents.

If you are the adoptive parent and/or petitioner, you must provide:

  1. A certified copy of the adoption decree.
  2. The legal custody decree if custody occurred before the adoption.
  3. A statement showing dates and places where the child resided with the adoptive parents.
  4. If the child was adopted when aged 16 or 17 years old, you must submit evidence that the child was adopted with, or subsequent to, the adoption of a natural sibling under age 16 by the same adoptive parent(s).
  • Send a photocopy of the above documents to NVC.
  • Bring the original documents (or certified copies) plus a photocopy to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain acceptable adoption and custody documents, use the Document Finder above.

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Birth Certificates

You and each family member immigrating with you must obtain an original birth certificate or certified copy.

  • Send a photocopy of each birth certificate to NVC.
  • Bring the original birth certificate plus a photocopy to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain acceptable birth certificates, use the Document Finder above.

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Court and Prison Records

If you were convicted of a crime, you must obtain a certified copy of each court and prison record, even if you were later granted amnesty, a pardon, or other act of clemency.

  • Send a photocopy of each court and prison record to NVC.
  • Bring the certified copy of each court and prison record plus a photocopy to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain acceptable court and prison records, use the Document Finder above.

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Marriage Certificates

If you are married, you must obtain an original marriage certificate or certified copy.

  • Send a photocopy of your marriage certificate to NVC.
  • Bring the original marriage certificate plus a photocopy to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain acceptable marriage certificates, use the Document Finder above.

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Marriage Termination Documentation

If you were previously married, you must obtain evidence of the termination of EVERY prior marriage you have had. Your evidence must be an original or certified copy of one of the following documents:  FINAL legal divorce decree, death certificate, or annulment papers.

  • Send a photocopy of your marriage termination document(s) to NVC.
  • Bring the original termination document(s) plus a photocopy to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain acceptable marriage termination documents, use the Document Finder above.

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Military Records

If you served in the military of any country, you must obtain a photocopy of your military record.

  • Send a photocopy of your military records to NVC.
  • Bring a photocopy of your military records to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain acceptable military records, use the Document Finder above.

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Petitioner Documents

If you are applying for an IR5 visa as the parent of a U.S. citizen or for an F4 visa as the brother or sister of a U.S. citizen:  You must obtain an original birth certificate for your petitioner, or a certified copy.

  • Send a photocopy of your petitioner's birth certificate to NVC.
  • Bring the original petitioner’s birth certificate plus a photocopy to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

If you are applying for an IR1, CR1, or F2A visa as the spouse of a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident and your petitioning spouse was previously married:  You must obtain evidence of the termination of EVERY prior marriage your petitioning spouse has had. This evidence must be an original or certified copy of one of the following documents:  FINAL legal divorce decree, death certificate, or annulment papers.

  • Send a photocopy of the petitioner’s marriage termination document(s) to NVC.
  • Bring the original petitioner’s termination document(s) plus a photocopy to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain acceptable birth certificates and marriage termination documents, use the Document Finder above.

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Photocopy of Valid Passport Biographic Data Page

You and each family member immigrating with you must submit a photocopy of the biographic data page of a currently valid passport. The biographic data page is the page with your photograph, name, date, and place of birth.

  • Send a photocopy of your biographic data page to NVC.
  • Bring your original passport plus one photocopy of the biographic data page to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Important: Do not send your original passport to NVC. You need this document to travel.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain acceptable passports, use the Document Finder above.

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Police Certificates

If you are 16 years of age or older, you must submit a photocopy of a police certificate from all countries you have lived in using below criteria:

If you ... AND you... THEN submit a police certificate from...
Are 16 years old or older Lived in your country of nationality for more than 6 months at any time in your life Your country of nationality
Are 16 years old or older Have lived in your country of current residence (if different from nationality) for more than 6 months Your country of current residence
Have ever lived in another country for 12 months or more Were 16 years or older at the time you lived there The country where you used to live.
Were arrested for any reason, regardless of how long you lived in that city or country, and no matter what age you were   The city and/or country where you were arrested.
  • Send a photocopy of your police certificate(s) to NVC.
  • Bring the original police certificate(s) plus a photocopy to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Note: Present and former residents of the United States do NOT need to submit any U.S. police certificates.

Important: Police certificates expire after one year, unless the certificate was issued from your country of previous residence and you have not returned there since the police certificate was issued. If at the time of your interview the following three items are all true, you must bring a new police certificate to your visa interview:

  • You are more than 16 years old;
  • The police certificate submitted to NVC was obtained more than one year ago; and
  • You still live in the country that issued the certificate.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain acceptable police certificates, use the Document Finder above.

 

Review Embassy/Consulate Instructions

Civil and personal documents may differ from country to country, depending on availability. There may be additional instructions for obtaining civil documents or additional documents you need to submit. These will be submitted to the NVC in Step 6. Select the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where you will apply for a visa to learn what additional requirements there are, if any.

Please visit Supplements by Post to review Embassy/Consulate instructions.