Direct Link: http://blog.mygcvisa.com/2013/09/nvc-consular-processing-steps.html
Note: Consular Processing applies to applicant who live/resides outside US. If applicant is inside US, they can choose to either go for Adjustment Of Status or Consular Processing.
Update (November 2014): National Visa Center No Longer Collecting Original Civil Documents: http://blog.mygcvisa.com/2014/11/national-visa-center-no-longer.html
Step 1: Once your I-130/I-140 application is approved, USCIS sends it (I-797 Notice of Action) to NVC (National Visa Center). It may takes some time for NVC to receive the petition from USCIS (4-8 weeks). After receiving the petition, NVC will create a unique case number for your application.
If your PD is not current, NVC send you a letter informing you that they have received your petition from USCIS and they will hold it till the PD is current. You do not have to take any action. You will have to wait for PD to be current and then NVC will contact you (see below).
If your PD is current, please see steps below.
Step 2: NVC will send I-864 (affidavit of support) processing fee bill to the petitioner. Please also submit form DS-261 online. DS-261 form replaces paper form DS-3032 (Choice of Address and Agent form). Submit form(s) online.
Note: Starting September 1, 2013, all immigrant visa applicants will apply online using Form DS-260 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration). Applicants will also choose their agent online using Form DS-261 (Choice of Address and Agent). Applicants will access both forms on the web at ceac.state.gov.
These forms replace the paper DS-230 and DS-3032. The National Visa Center (NVC) may instruct some applicants who previously submitted Form DS-230 to submit Form DS-260. Only Diversity Visa and Cuban Family Reunification Parole applicants will continue to use the paper forms. If you have questions or feedback about Forms DS-260 and DS-261, contact the NVC at email@example.com or 603-334-0700.
Step 3: Once you have paid I-864 fees (in step 2 above), NVC will send I-864 (affidavit of support) form to the petitioner. They can also ask you to download I-864 form from their website.
Also see FAQ for Fee Payment: http://travel.state.gov/visa/immigrants/info/info_3904.html
Tip: NVC will give you one year to pay the fees. NVC will reinstate I-130 after one year, but it may require additional work.
Step 4: Completely fill out I-864 form. Attach any supporting documents and send this back to NVC (do not send it to consulate). Remember to also include the bar code sheet (if applicable).
Step 5: As soon as NVC receives form DS-261, NVC will mail Immigrant Visa (IV) bill to the agent of choice (that you wrote in step 2 above).
Step 6: Once NVC receives the Immigrant Visa (IV) fees, NVC will send Packet 3 to agent of choice. Packet 3 is also called "Instruction Package For Immigrant Visa Applicants". The content of Package 3 will vary slightly depending on the local US consulate (where applicant will be interviewed). Please see FAQ below for typical documents required for Packet 3.
The Instructions Package will provide information on the forms and documents that the foreign spouse will have to submit in order to apply for an immigrant visa. As of September 1, 2013 the immigrant visa application will be submitted by DS-260 (see Step 2 above for more details and links). Paper DS-230 form would not be accepted (please see exceptions in step 2 above).
Tip: Some consulate send packet 3 and Packet 4 by email only.
Step 7: Complete Packet 3 and attach any supporting documents. Send the packet as per the instructions listed in that packet.
Step 8: Once NVC receives all required documents, approximately one month before your visa interview appointment, you will receive Packet 4 which includes (a) an appointment letter containing the date and time of the interview (b) instructions for obtaining a medical examination and (c) list of documents that must be brought to the consulate for the interview. Packet 4 is also called "Appointment Package For Immigrant Visa Applicants".
Tip: It can take between 1-4+ months for consulate to schedule interview (from the time they received the package from NVC).
Tip 2: It typically takes 1-4 weeks for NVC to send package to US Embassy/Consulate.
Step 9: The primary applicant and all other family members will have to go for medical exams, as per instructions in Packet 4. Learn More.
Tip: Medical exam can cost around $100-$300+ per person.
Step 10: On the scheduled day, applicant and any other accompanying family members will have to go for interview at the local US Consulate/Embassy. Remember to bring all documents listed in Packet 4. Also see local US embassy/consulate guidelines. More tips.
Tip: Estimated wait time for interview at the US Embassy/Consulate can be between 1-5 hours.
Step 11: Once you have successfully passed the interview in step 10, you will be notified that your immigrant visa (GC) have been approved.
Step 12: Once immigrant visa is approved, most of the documents will be put in a sealed envelope. This is called "Visa Packet". Do NOT open this envelope. You will get back original documents like birth certificate etc.
Step 13: Travel to US. Upon arrival to the United States, you should give your sealed Visa Packet to the Customs and Border Protection officer at the port of entry.
Step 14: You will be inspected by a Customs and Border Protection officer who has the authority to deny you entry into the United States. If you are found admissible, you will be admitted as a permanent resident of the United States.
You will be given a temporary I-551 (green card) stamp in your passport and will enter the U.S. as either a conditional or a lawful permanent resident. This gives you authority to live and work in the United States permanently. You will be mailed your green card.
If you do not receive your green card within 30 days of your arrival, please call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283 or visit your local office by making an InfoPass appointment.
Note: You are required to enter the United States before the expiration date printed on your visa. When traveling, the primary (or principal) applicant must enter the United States before or at the same time as family members holding visas.
You have to pay a fee if you receive your immigrant visa on or after February 1, 2013. You must pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) after you receive your immigrant visa and before you travel to the United States. (IR-3, IH-3, IR-4, IH-4, SB-1, SI-1, SI-2, SI-3, SQ-1, SQ-2, SQ-3, K-1, K-2, K-3, and K-4 visa holders will not pay the fee.) Select USCIS Immigrant Fee on the USCIS website for more information.
Important Notice: USCIS will not issue a Permanent Resident Card (Form I-551 or Green Card) until you have paid the fee.
USCIS link on consular processing: http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis (opens in new window)
Q. Which documents should be sent in Packet 3?
A. The documents requested in the Packet 3 vary by consulate, but generally include:
- Form DS-2001 Notification of Applicant Readiness (this may be optional for some consulate).
- Online Form DS-260 Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (paper DS-230 would not be accepted, except for Diversity Visa and Cuban Family Reunification Parole
- Note: Do NOT sign Part II of the form until your interview at the U.S. consulate
- A copy of your birth certificate
- Certified copies of any court or prison records
- Marriage certificate
- Records indicating the termination of any prior marriages that you’ve entered into
- A certified copy of your military record if you have served in any country’s armed forces
- Police certificates
- A copy of the identity page of your current, valid passport
- Two (2) passport-sized photographs
- Form I-212 ONLY if you’ve been previously removed from the U.S. and must request permission to reapply for a visa
Q. What happens during the interview at the consulate?
A. The consular officer will ask you multiple questions about the documents that you have submitted and answers that you have provided on your immigration forms to verify their accuracy.
You may also be questioned about the nature of your relationship, including how you and your partner met, details about your wedding, and other questions about your life together. At the end of the interview, you will be required to take an oath and sign Part II of form DS-230, affirming that everything in your application is true.
If the officer has any reason to doubt that your marriage is real, they may send your application back to USCIS for reexamination. Otherwise, your immigrant visa application will be approved. If your application is denied, it will be reviewed by a supervising officer, who may also request that the State Department review the application. Denials may not be appealed.
Q. What’s the difference between lawful permanent residence and conditional permanent residence?
A. If you’ve been married for less than two years at time of submitting petition for spouse, the foreign spouse will receive conditional permanent resident status upon entry into the United States. This status is valid for two years.
Ninety days before this status expires, the conditional permanent resident must file the form I-751 to remove the conditional status and become a lawful permanent resident.
If you are married for more than 2 years at time of submitting petition for spouse, the foreign national spouse will receive a lawful permanent residence.
Q. Where are US Embassy/Consulate located?
A. Consular Processing must be done at the U.S. consulate or embassy in the foreign country of residence or country of birth. The State Department website has links to U.S. consulates around the world. http://www.usembassy.gov/
For China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Seoul, please see below:
Consulate General of the U.S.A.
1, Shamain South Street
People’s Republic of China
U.S. Consulate General
26 Garden Road
People’s Republic of China
American Institute in Taiwan
#7, Lane 134, Hsin Yi Road
Section 3, Taipei
US Embassy in Seoul, Korea
188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu,
You can also see other cases in GC Tracker: http://www.mygcvisa.com/tracker/
1. FB Category - Frequently Asked Questions
2. How To Calculate NVC Case Number
3. How to file I-485 Application (if applicant is inside US).
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