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Visas & Work Permits in the US

Visa Application Process and Naturalization

There are various ways of getting a US immigration visa, also known as permanent resident visa. You can try your luck with the Diversity Visa program, get an employer or relative to sponsor you, or you can try to self-petition. InterNations GO! gives you an overview and tells you about naturalization.

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Immigration Visa Application

The exact application process for your US immigration visa of course depends on a variety of factors, not least of all under which category you are applying. However, we have in the following summed up the general application procedure for immigrant visa.

The actual application process only starts once the relevant petition (form I-130 for alien relatives, form I-140 for alien workers, or form I-526 for alien entrepreneurs) has been approved and your priority date been reached. The petition, including any and all documentation that has already been submitted for the case, will then be send to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing.

The NVC will in due time contact you, typically to request that you complete the form DS-261 Choice of Address and Agent to settle where and to whom any future correspondence will be sent. After this, a visa processing fee payment will be invoiced. The NVC will then tell you when you can start submitting your application and what documents are relevant for the application.

Required Documents

The following documents, if applicable, are typically required by the NVC, both as originals as well as photocopies:

  • Birth certificates
  • Adoption documentation
  • Marriage certificates and divorce papers
  • Court and prison records
  • Police certificates
  • Military records
  • Petitioner documents
  • Deportation documentation
  • Photographs

Every document that you send in to the NVC needs to be in English or accompanied by a certified translation.

The Application: Form DS-260

When the NVC gets into contact with you, this is also the point where you have to complete and submit your Online Immigration Visa Application (Form DS-260). Make sure you have entered the correct data and answered any and all questions diligently and truthfully.

Furthermore, you also need to take into account any additional requirements that your specific embassy /consulate might have, so be sure to check beforehand. Once you have submitted your application and the NVC has received your documents, they will begin processing it. At this point, you may be asked for clarifications or further documentation. If you are being sponsored by a relative, their Affidavit of Support has to be processed first before your application will go anywhere.

Medical Examination and the Interview

You are going to be notified by letter about the time and date of your interview approximately one month before the appointed date. This letter will also include information about the medical examination which you need to complete before the interview. Only examinations carried out by authorized doctors are accepted and include – next to an actual physical examination – chest X-rays, blood tests, and a review of your medical history. For information on how to best prepare for this medical examination, please refer to the corresponding website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs.

If they haven’t already been sent ahead, take the results of this medical exam with you to your interview appointment. Furthermore, do not forget the following documents (if they have not already been submitted):

  • Appointment letter from the NVC
  • Valid passport
  • Police certificates
  • Court, prison and/or military records, where applicable
  • Marriage certificate and termination of marriage documentation, if applicable
  • Evidence of financial support, such as the Affidavit of Support or an official offer of employment
  • All original documentations of a relationship between applicant and petitioner for relative-petitioned cases
  • A letter from the future employer stating the essential elements of the job offer

You will get back all your original documents after the completion of your interview. Furthermore, if your application is accepted, you will also get back your passport including the immigrant visa as well as a sealed package with your immigration documents. Hand this package over to the US immigration official unopened when entering the US.

Last but not least, do not forget to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee after receiving your visa and before entering the States, or you will not be issued your Permanent Resident Card.

Updated on: December 06, 2018

All about the US

Understand the process of relocating to the US by reading our practical guide on moving to the US. We discuss the requirements you need to meet and the steps you need to take for your transition. From determining what visa you need to your first encounter with the US tax system, our guide covers all you need to know for a successful move.

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