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The Immigrant Visa Process

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 civil documents to support your visa application. 

  • You must send photocopies of all required civil documents to the NVC.
  • You must submit the originals (or certified copies) and a photocopy of each of your required civil documents to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the time of your interview.

The original civil documents you submit to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate must be issued by an appropriate authority.

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
  • Translator is competent to translate.

Review each item below, and obtain any that apply to you or your immigrating family members.

Reciprocity by Country

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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 collect custody documentation.

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).
  • You must send photocopies of the custody documentation to the NVC.
  • You must submit the original custody documentation (or certified copies) and photocopies to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the time of your interview.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain correct adoption documentation, review the Country Documents section at Reciprocity by Country.

Unobtainable adoption certificates

If adoption documentation is unavailable per the country-specific guidelines above, you do not need to submit them to the NVC. If you cannot obtain an adoption certificate for another reason, please submit a written explanation when you submit your other documents.

Birth Certificates

You and each family member accompanying you must obtain an original (or certified copy) of your birth certificate(s).

  • You must submit a photocopy of each birth certificate to the NVC.
  • You must submit the original birth certificate(s) (or a certified copy) and a photocopy of each birth certificate to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the time of the interview.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain your birth certificate, review the Country Documents section at Reciprocity by Country.

Unobtainable birth certificates

If a birth certificate is unavailable per the country-specific guidelines above, you do not need to submit a copy of one to the NVC. If you cannot obtain a birth certificate for another reason, please submit a written explanation when you submit your other documents.

Court and Prison Records

If you were convicted of a crime, you must obtain a certified copy of each court and prison record, regardless of the fact that you may have been granted amnesty, a pardon, or other act of clemency.

  • You must submit a photocopy of each court and prison record to the NVC.
  • You must submit a certified copy and one photocopy of each court and prison record to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the time of your interview.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain court and prison records, review the Country Documents section at Reciprocity by Country.

Unobtainable court and prison records

If your court and prison records are unavailable per the country-specific guidelines above, you do not need to submit them to the NVC. If you cannot obtain court and prison records for another reason, please submit a written explanation when you submit your other documents.

Marriage Certificates

If you are married, you must obtain an original (or certified copy) of your marriage certificate.

  • You must submit a photocopy of your marriage certificate to the NVC.
  • You must submit an original (or certified copy) and a photocopy of your marriage certificate to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the time of your interview.

Exception: If you are the Petitioner for your parent (IR-5, Parent of a U.S. Citizen), you do not have to submit your marriage certificate.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain your marriage certificate, review the Country Documents section at Reciprocity by Country.

Unobtainable marriage certificates

If your marriage certificate is unavailable per the country-specific guidelines above, you do not need to submit a copy of one to the NVC. If you cannot obtain a marriage certificate for another reason, please submit a written explanation when you submit your other documents.

Marriage Termination Documentation

If you were previously married, you must obtain evidence of the termination of EACH prior marriage. Your evidence must be an original or certified copy of one of the following documents:  FINAL divorce decree, Death certificate, or Annulment papers.

  • You must send photocopies of your marriage termination documentation to the NVC.
  • You must submit the original (or certified copy) and a photocopy of your marriage termination documentation to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the time of your interview.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain your marriage termination document, review the Country Documents section at Reciprocity by Country.

Unobtainable marriage termination document

If a marriage termination document is unavailable per the country-specific guidelines above, you do not need to submit a copy of one to the NVC. If you cannot obtain a marriage termination document for another reason, please submit a written explanation when you submit your other documents.

Military Records

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

  • You must send a photocopy of your military record(s) to the NVC.
  • You must submit a photocopy of your military record(s) to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the time of your interview.

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain your military records, review the Country Documents section at Reciprocity by Country.

Unobtainable military records

If your military records are unavailable per the country-specific guidelines above, you do not need to submit them to the NVC. If you cannot obtain military records for another reason, please submit a written explanation when you submit your other documents.

Petitioner Documents

If you are applying for an IR5 (parent of a U.S. citizen) or F4 (brother or sister of a U.S. citizen) visa you must obtain an original (or certified copy) of your petitioner’s birth certificate. 

  • You must send a photocopy of your petitioner's birth certificate to the NVC.
  • You must submit the original (or certified copy) and a photocopy of your petitioner's birth certificate to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the time of your interview.

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 your valid passport. The biographic data page is the page of your passport with your photograph, name, date, and place of birth.

  • You must send a photocopy of your biographic data page to the NVC.
  • You must submit a photocopy of your biographic data page to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the time of your interview.

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

For country-specific guidelines on how to obtain a valid passport, review the Country Documents section at Reciprocity by Country.

Unobtainable passports

If you cannot obtain a passport, please submit a written explanation when you submit your other documents.

Police Certificates

If you are 16 years of age or older, you must submit a photocopy of a police certificate from the following locations:

From your... If you were... And resided there...
Country of nationality At least 16 years of age At least 6 months
Country of residence At least 16 years of age At least 6 months
Country of previous residence At least 16 years of age At least 1 year
Any country where you were arrested Any age For any timeframe

 

  • You must send a photocopy of your police certificate(s) to the NVC.
  • You must submit a photocopy of your police certificate(s) to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate at the time of your interview.

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 a police certificate, review the Country Documents section at Reciprocity by Country.

Unobtainable police certificates

If your police certificate is unavailable per the country-specific guidelines above, you do not need to submit one to the NVC. If you cannot obtain a police certificate for another reason, please submit a written explanation when you submit your other documents.

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.

Adobe Reader - You must have a current version of Adobe Reader to view additional U.S. Embassy and Consulate requirements. You may receive a "file corrupted" error message if you have an old version. Visit http://www.adobe.com/ to download a free current version.

 

Who's Involved

National Visa Center

After petition approval, the National Visa Center (NVC) handles processing for certain kinds of documents, sending them onward to U.S. Embassies & Consulates.

When and how to Contact NVC