Disclaimer: The information below is a basic explanation of the Immigrant Visa Process and is not legal advice.  Each immigration case is different based on a person’s individual immigration, family, and criminal history.

Immigrant Visas are obtained through applications submitted to the intending immigrant’s local U.S. Consulate or Embassy.  In order to be able to apply for an immigrant visa, a visa number must be available to the applicant (please refer to information under family based petitions). 

All applicants for an immigrant visa must prove that they have a valid immigrant visa available and are not inadmissible to the United States (i.e., do not have immigration violations that will prevent them from obtaining a visa).  If an applicant is inadmissible to the United States, he or she may be eligible for a waiver of immigration violations.

Once a visa number is available, all applications and fees for an immigrant visa must be submitted to the National Visa Center.  The National Visa Center verifies that the application fees are received, that the application is filled out correctly, and that all necessary supporting documents are received before forwarding the application to the applicant’s local U.S. Consulate or Embassy. 

One the local U.S. Consulate or Embassy receives the application they will schedule the applicant for an immigrant visa interview.  Prior to the interview, the applicant will have to obtain a medical exam and have their fingerprints taken.  Following the immigrant visa interview, most U.S. Consulates and Embassies will have the applicant designate a local courier office by which to send the applicant’s passport with visa, and/or additional documentation relating to their case. 

Immigrant visas are generally issued for one year, and the applicant must use their visa to enter the United States before the visa expires.  Upon entering the United States, the immigrant will become either a Lawful Permanent Resident of the United States, or a Conditional Permanent Resident of the United States (if the visa is based on a marriage that has existed for less than two years at the time of the immigrant’s entry to the United States).  After entering the country, the immigrant must pay a transfer fee to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services so that their Permanent Resident Card (“Green Card”) is mailed to them at their new address in the United States.

For advice specific to your case, please call Dady & Hoffmann LLC at (815) 394-1359 to set up a consultation with one of our attorneys.