Immigrant Visa Information

On this page:


Overview

In general, a person who wishes to immigrate to the United States must have a petition approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before applying for an immigrant visa. The petition is filed either by a qualified relative or a potential employer at a USCIS office in the United States. Specific information about filing immigrant petitions is available on the USCIS website. An individual with an approved petition and a priority date that is current for processing (when applicable) is eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or K nonimmigrant visa.

Petitions

Effective August 15, 2011, petitioners residing in New Zealand, Samoa, the Cook Islands, Niue, or the Pitcairn Islands, where USCIS does not have a public counter presence, must file their Forms I-130 by mail with the USCIS Chicago lockbox. U.S. Embassies and Consulates that do not have a USCIS presence will only be able to accept and process Forms I-130 in exceptional circumstances, as outlined below. Forms I-130 that were properly filed at an Consulate overseas where USCIS does not have a presence before August 15, 2011, will not be affected by this change.

USCIS Chicago Lockbox addresses for regular mail deliveries:
USCIS
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-4107

USCIS Chicago Lockbox address for express mail and courier deliveries:
USCIS
Attn: I-130
131 South Dearborn-3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

For additional information about how to file a Form I-130 with the USCIS Chicago lockbox, visit the USCIS website at http://www.uscis.gov or contact USCIS by telephone in the U.S. at 1-800-375-5283

USCIS Immigrant Fee

Effective February 1, 2013, all individuals issued immigrant visas overseas must pay a $220.00 USCIS Immigrant Fee before traveling to the United States. Only prospective adoptive parents whose child(ren) is/are entering the United States under either the Orphan or Hague Process, Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants who were employed by the U.S. government, returning residents, and those issued K visas are exempt from the new fee. The below USCIS website has more details on the new fee, including contact information for USCIS, if there are further questions: www.USCIS.gov/immigrantfee

Exceptional Filing

Beginning August 15, 2011, petitioners who believe their situation merits an exception may request the Consular Section to accept the filing. Each request will be evaluated individually.

A petitioner seeking to file a Form I-130 should contact the Consular Section to request consideration for exception and explain the circumstances in detail. The Consular Section will then relay the request for an exception to the USCIS field office with jurisdiction over the Consulate. The determination of whether the case presents exceptional circumstances which warrant an exception to the general filing process will be made by USCIS. USCIS will publish guidance on the circumstances that may qualify as exceptional on their website.

Medical Requirements

All applicants must undergo a medical exam by a Consulate-approved Panel Physician. Information about the medical exam can be found here. You will receive instructions about how to schedule an appointment for your medical exam from National Visa Center (NVC) or the Consulate. Do not try to make an appointment before receiving these instructions.

Consulate Appointment

If you have an interview date, you must appear at the Consulate on the date of your appointment. You should arrive 15 minutes before your appointment. Please read about security restrictions at the Consulate that describe what you can and cannot bring with you to your interview. You should bring your appointment letter and the documents required for your visa class.

Diversity Visa Program

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available up to 55,000 diversity visas (DVs) annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. For more information, see the Diversity Visa Program Instructions webpage.

Official information is ONLY available on the State Department website. Specific instructions on how to enter the Diversity Visa Lottery are generally available in September of each year, and the Lottery is run each October. Electronic entry forms can ONLY be accessed via the State Department.

Please refer to the fraud warnings posted by the Department of State and the Federal Trade Commission. The U.S. Government charges no fee to download the forms or enter the Diversity Visa Lottery.

Who is eligible?

Conditions of entry are subject to change each year, therefore Consular Posts are unable to provide detailed information, or accept applications.

To be eligible to enter, the applicant must have completed a minimum of 12 years education including four years of high school which must be the equivalent of a U.S. high school diploma (e.g. completion of 6th Form/year 12 in New Zealand or Australia) or qualify under Grade 7 employment standards as set by the U.S. Department of Labor on the O*Net OnLine database. Eligibility for the lottery is determined by the country of birth, and some countries are excluded from participation. Please refer to the annual instructions for more information on eligibility.

How do I apply?

The lottery is free to enter, and selected applicants will pay all required fees at their visa interview. For applicants obtaining a visa under the Diversity Visa Lottery, there is an additional surcharge of US$375 per person, as well as the standard immigrant visa fee of US$400 per person. For the latest information on the Diversity Visa Lottery, please see the Department of State's Diversity Visa Lottery Information webpage.