Immigrant Visa Information

FAQ

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 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 is eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or K nonimmigrant visa.

Visa Lottery Notice

Important Notice Regarding the 2012 Diversity Visa Program

The results of the selection process for the 2012 Diversity Visa (DV-2012) program have been voided. Results previously available via the Entry Status Check (ESC) function on the Department of State website, dvlottery.state.gov, were posted in error and are now invalid. The results were not valid because of a computer error; they did not represent a fair, random selection of entrants, as required by U.S. law.

This means that we have rescinded all notices informing entrants that they had been selected for further processing in DV-2012; if you received such a notice via ESC on dvlottery.state.gov, it is no longer valid.

A new random selection process will be conducted based on the original entries for the DV-2012 program. If you submitted a qualified entry from October 5, 2010, to November 3, 2010, you do not need to reapply. Your entry will be included in the new random selection. Your confirmation number, which is required to determine the status of your entry, remains the same. We are not accepting new entries for the DV-2012 program.

We expect the results of the new random selection process to be available by July 15, 2011, via the ESC function on dvlottery.state.gov.

We regret any inconvenience this might have caused.

For further information and future updates on the 2012 DV program, please see:

http://www.dvlottery.state.gov/

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/diversity-visa-program-entry.html

Questions and Answers

Q: How was this error discovered?

- The results showed a pattern that was inconsistent with the statistical outcome expected from a random selection; more than 98 percent of the selectees had registered for the DV program on the first two days of the 30-day registration period.

Q: Why is it necessary to invalidate the results and run a new selection?

- The Immigration and Nationality Act requires that Diversity Immigrant Visas be made available on a strictly random basis. Since the computer programming error resulted in an outcome that was not strictly random, the outcome does not meet the requirements of the law. Relying on the original results also would have meant unfairly disadvantaging many DV entrants.

- The Department has long made the DV random selection with the aid of computer software. For the 2012 program, a new computer program was used which failed to run a random process. This is the first problem of this sort to occur in the 15 years of conducting a computer-aided drawing for the DV program.

Q: What about people who checked the website last week and thought they had won? Aren't you taking visas away from them?

- Selection in the DV process does not guarantee anyone a visa. It provides selectees only with an opportunity to apply for a visa.

- We regret that incorrect results were posted on our DV Entry Status Check webpage before this problem was discovered and resolved. Any information that appeared on the Entry Status Check website between May 1 and May 6, 2011, is void and invalid.

- We understand that some people who viewed the confirmation website and thought they had been selected are disappointed, and we deeply regret any inconvenience or disappointment that this error caused.

- Everyone who submitted a valid DV entry for the 2012 selection will have an equal chance to be selected when the new, corrected random process is run.

Q: Do you believe the software was intentionally corrupted or hacked?

- No. This appears to be solely a computer programming error. We have no evidence that this resulted from any intentional act. We also have no evidence that any outside party accessed any data related to the DV program.

Q: Did you invalidate the results because too many winners came from a particular country?

- No. The distribution of results by country fell within a normal statistical range. The distribution of selectees by date of registration, however, showed that the program gave unequal weight to the date of registration. More than 98 percent of the selectees had registered on the first two days of the registration period.

Furthermore, the law that established the DV program stipulates that applicants from a single country cannot be issued more than seven percent of the available visas in any one fiscal year.

Q: Will you reopen the entry period?

- No. We will rerun the computer selection with the qualified DV entries received during the official entry period (October 5, 2010 to November 3, 2010). It is not necessary to resubmit entries. DV confirmation numbers provided to check results on our Entry Status Check webpage are still valid.

Q: When will the new selection be run? When will correct results be available on your website?

- We expect new results to be available on the Entry Status Check webpage on or about July 15, 2011.

Q: How much did this error cost the U.S. government?

- Because the problem was corrected before any DV applications were processed, the financial impact is minimal.

Petitions in the Philippines

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) at the U.S. Embassy in Manila accepts I-130 petitions from American citizens who are residents in the Philippines for immediate relative immigrant classification where the beneficiary is a parent, spouse or minor child.

Beginning August 15, 2011, petitioners in the Philippines may also file through the USCIS Chicago Lockbox at one of the following addresses:

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 Third Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

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

The American citizen petitioner must have been resident in the Philipines for at least six months before filing the petition and be able to present proof-of-residency. American citizens who are in the Philippines on temporary status, such as students or tourists, do not meet the residency standard and must file their petitions directly with the domestic USCIS office having jurisdiction over the American citizen's place of residence.

 

For information about how to contact USCIS in Manila and to learn more about the services USCIS provides, please click here.

 

back to top

Qualifications

Beneficiary of an Approved Form I-160 Petition

You must apply for the appropriate immigrant visa under the Employment-Based (E) category. The prospective U.S. employer files the I-160 petition and must obtain a certification from the U.S. Department of Labor that states that there are no qualified workers available in the United States for the proposed employment.

Special Immigrant Visa

With the exception of a qualified current or former U.S. Government employee, you must have an approved I-360 petition from USCIS. Special workers in a religious occupation or vocation, qualified U.S. government employees, Amerasians and widowers of American citizens fall under this classification.

Visa Lottery System

You may qualify under the visa lottery system. For more information, please visit the Diversity Visa web page.

Investors

If you are an investor, you must file a Form I-526 petition with USCIS.

Spouse or Fiancé(e) of a U.S. Citizen

You may apply for a nonimmigrant K visa with an approved I-129F petition. The K visa is a nonimmigrant visa that allows beneficiaries to join their petitioners sooner. Persons who enter the United States with a K visa must apply at USCIS to change their status from a nonimmigrant to a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR).

back to top

Required Documents

When a beneficiary is eligible to apply for an immigrant or fiancé(e) visa (that is, the priority date becomes current and all the pre-processing requirements have been met), the National Visa Center (NVC) queues the beneficiary for a visa interview. The NVC will send the applicant a packet with the visa interview appointment date, information, the application forms and a list of required documents. It is important that visa applicants submit all documentary requirements to NVC so they are "documentarily qualified" for the visa interview; otherwise, they will be found ineligible for visa issuance and be asked to return to the Embassy for another appointment.

Please note that any document not written in English must be accompanied by an English translation and a competent translator must certify the translations. Also, Consular officers may require additional documentation to adjudicate your application and may ask to see originals of documents. You may submit a photocopy of a document along with the visa application, but you should bring the original document for the officer's inspection.

For a list of the basic documents that you must submit, click here.

 

NOTICE TO IMMIGRANT VISA APPLICANTS

Starting October 02, 2014, all immigrant visa applicants are required to complete a DS-260 online immigrant visa application athttps://ceac.state.gov/ceac prior to attending their visa interview appointment.

Applicants who appear for an interview without completed application forms will be advised to reschedule the interview by visiting the online appointment website at http://www.ustraveldocs.com/ph or by calling the Embassy’s Visa Information and Appointment Service hotline.  

If you are asked to reschedule your interview because your DS-260 is incomplete, please note that the next available appointment may be three to six weeks after your original appointment.  To avoid lengthy delays, please complete the DS-260 well in advance of your interview date.

back to top

Medical Examination

All visa applicants, regardless of age, need to complete a medical examination at the St. Luke's Medical Center Extension Clinic (SLMCEC) before the visa interview. Applicants are advised to have their medical examinations done at least one week before their interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

SLMCEC is is open from 6:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and is located at:

1177 J. Bocobo Street
Ermita, Manila
Telephone: (632) 521-0020 and (632) 521-8647

It is best to arrive for your medical examination between 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Applicants are served on a first come, first served basis, but the order of release of the medical reports will depend on the complexity of the results of the medical examination.

INCREASE IN MEDICAL EXAMINATION FEES

  • Beginning November 1, 2015, St. Luke’s Medical Center Extension Clinic (SLEC), the Embassy’s accredited medical facility, will increase the medical examination fee for adult applicants. The new medical exam fees will be PhP 11,300.00 for adults. There is no increase of medical fees for children 14 years of age or younger the fees will be PhP 8,600.00.

For a list of common questions regarding the medical exam, click here.

 

back to top

Immigrant Visa Application Fees

Immigrant visa application fees may be paid in cash, traveler's check, U.S. Postal Money Order, or by major credit card at the Embassy's consular cashier if they have not been paid already to the National Visa Center (NVC) in the U.S. Payments at the Embassy may be in U.S. dollars or in Philippine pesos at the prevailing Embassy exchange rate. Each applicant, regardless of age, will require a separate fee payment. Fees are non-refundable for applications submitted and processed. For immigrant visa fees, click here.

Additional Fees
The Department of State's website lists all visa application fees and other types of visa processing fees collected by the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security.

If you apply for a K visa, you must pay a USD$265 nonimmigrant visa application fee. The application fee for nonimmigrant visas must be paid prior to scheduling a visa interview appointment. For payment information, please click here.

back to top

Courier Delivery of Your Immigrant Visa

The Immigrant Visa unit uses a guaranteed courier service to deliver issued visas. 2GO commercial courier is the authorized courier service provider for the visa units. Visas are delivered directly to the applicant's designated address at no additional cost. Applicants also have the option to pick up the visas at the nearest 2GO branch.

Change Courier Address
Applicants who have already scheduled an appointment online, but who wish to modify their courier address, can click herethe below link to proceed. Change of courier address or courier office location for collection of your passport will be accepted up until midnight on the day of your interview.

Return of Passports by Courier Service
If your application is approved, you will receive your passport through the 2GO courier service at the address provided when you scheduled your appointment. For more information about collecting or tracking your passport/visa, click here.

back to top

Adoption

For adoption information, please click here.

Filipino Spouses and Fiancé(e)s - Love and Marriage and Migrating to the U.S.

U.S. citizens have a number of options to bring their Filipino spouses or fiancé(e)s and their children to the United States to become lawful permanent residents. However, marriage to a U.S. citizen does not automatically grant U.S. residence or citizenship to the Filipino spouse. He or she must be petitioned by the American spouse and then apply for a visa to enter the United States. The Filipino spouse may enter the United States on a K-3 nonimmigrant visa, CR-1 immigrant visa or IR-1 immigrant visa, each having its own set of requirements and procedures. These three spouse-based petitions are issued to qualified beneficiaries of American citizens only. Please note that individuals who are petitioned for by lawful permanent residents do not qualify for a K-3, CR or IR visa.

CR Visa Information
If the basis for immigration is a marriage that was entered into less than two years prior to the date of the visa issuance and the petition that was filed is an I-130, the spouse of a U.S. citizen or the child of a U.S. citizen is classified as conditional immigrant at the time of visa issuance. The visa category for the spouse is CR-1 while that of the child is CR-2. For more information about CR-1 visa, please visit the Department of State's website.

IR Visa Information
A spouse of a U.S. citizen is considered an immediate relative (IR) and is immediately eligible to apply for an immigrant visa under the IR category. The Filipino spouse must be the beneficiary of an I-130 approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition must be filed at the USCIS office that has jurisdiction over the petitioner's (the American spouse's) place of residence. Please note that active-duty U.S. military personnel and other U.S. Government personnel are considered domiciled in the United States while serving overseas.

Children (below 21 years of age and unmarried) of the Filipino spouse are also eligible to apply for IR visas if individual petitions are filed on their behalf by the U.S. citizen spouse. Under U.S. immigration law, only children under the age of 18 at the time their natural parent married a U.S. citizen are considered "step-children" for immigration purpose. Children who were 18 years or older at the time of the marriage may not be petitioned as step-children. They may be petitioned by the Filipino parent after he/she becomes a lawful permanent resident (LPR) of the United States.

Once an I-130 petition is approved, the National Visa Center (NVC) in the United States notifies the petitioner and provides guidance on how the Filipino spouse and children can apply for IR-1 and IR-2 visas, respectively. The NVC schedules the the applicant(s) for an interview and forwards the approved petition to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. The NVC will likewise notify the applicant(s) when they are scheduled to report for the medical examination and visa interview.

Petitioners and beneficiaries are encouraged to submit complete documentation at the earliest possible time prior to the interview appointment. Submission of incomplete documentation could result in delays with processing of the immigrant visa. For more information regarding the IR-1 visa, please visit the Department of State's website.

The USCIS website has more information about how to petition alien spouses to live in the United States.

K Visa Information
FAQ

The K visa is a nonimmigrant visa. It does not automatically grant U.S. citizenship or lawful permanent resident (LPR) status to the beneficiaries. Those who qualify for K visas will be able to join their partners in the United States as a nonimmigrant, without the potentially long period of separation during the petition process. Holders of K visas will need to adjust their immigration status in the United States to become lawful permanent residents. K visas can be for spouses or fiancés of U.S. citizens.

 

    • K-1 Fiancé(e) Visa
      U.S. citizens who plan to marry their Filipino fiancé(e) in the United States must file an I-129F petition with the USCIS office that has jurisdiction over the petitioner's place of residence. Once approved, the I-129F petition is sent to the NVC, which forwards it to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. The U.S. Embassy will send the Filipino fiancé(e) information about how to apply for the K-1 visa, including the medical examination and the visa interview. The I-129F fiancé(e) petition is a single entry visa that is valid for six (6) months from the date of its approval. If the petition expires, a consular officer may revalidate it for another four (4) months (provided that both parties remain legally free to marry).

       

    • K-2 Visa
      Children (unmarried and below 21 years of age) of a K-1 applicant may derive immigration benefits from the same I-129F petition and are issued K-2 visas. Children identified in the approved I-129F petition are called derivatives. Derivatives may apply at the same time as the principal applicant parent or may apply later, but must be issued K-2 visas within one year from the date the K-1 visa was issued to the principal applicant parent. Derivatives who are following-to-join the principal applicant parent must apply for their K-2 visas in a timely manner to allow visa issuance within the required period.

       

    • K-3/K-4 Visas
      The visa type for the spouse of a U.S. citizen is a K-3, and the visa type for minor children (unmarried and below 21 years of age) of a K-3 applicant is a K-4.

       

      U.S. citizens who wish to bring their Filipino spouse to the United States on a K-3 visa must file both the I-129F and I-130 petitions. These petitions are filed at the USCIS office that has jurisdiction over the petitioner's place of residence. Effective February 1 2010, when both the I-129F and I-130 visa petitions have been approved by USCIS and sent to NVC, the I-129F is administratively closed. The NVC will send the I-130 petition to the U.S. Embassy in Manila as soon as it is documentarily complete and is scheduled for an immigrant visa interview. If no I-130 petition is received with the I-129F petition, the NVC will process the I-129F petition and send it to the U.S. Embassy for standard K visa processing, scheduling and adjudication.

      Please note that Filipino spouses married to their petitioners for less than two years are given a conditional LPR status upon entry to the U.S. To remove the conditional status, the couple must establish the bona fides of their marital relationship).

       

      Minor children of a K-3 applicant may derive immigration benefits from the same approved I-129F petition and are issued K-4 visas. The children may apply for visas at the same time as the principal applicant parent or may be following-to-join derivatives of a K-3 applicant, even after the principal alien has acquired lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. However, the cutoff date for issuance of a K-4 visa is one year from the date of the issuance of the K-3 visa to the principal alien.

      If an immigrant visa based on the I-130 petition for the spouse has already been denied, then the spouse and the spouse's children will not qualify for a K-3 or K-4 visa, respectively.

    • K Visa Application Procedures
      Step 1 - File the Petition
      File the I-129F petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office that covers your permanent place of residence. The Form I-129F is available at the Department of Homeland Security's public queries window or Window 35 at the U.S. Embassy in Manila. The petition must be filed in the United States.

       

      Step 2 - USCIS Approves the Petition
      Once the petition is approved, USCIS sends it to the National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC then forwards the petition to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Please note that approval of a visa petition does not necessarily mean a visa will be issued. Only a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy may determine a person's eligibility to receive a visa.

       

      Step 3 - The Applicant Is Notified
      When the U.S. Embassy receives the approved petition from the NVC, it notifies the applicant of the required medical examination and visa interview. Applicants who have been notified by the U.S. Embassy to prepare for their interview must pay the visa application fee before they can schedule an appointment for a visa interview.

       

      Step 4 - Visa Application/Interview
      After the applicant pays the non-refundable application/processing fee and completes the required medical examination at St. Luke's Medical Center Extension Clinic, he/she appears at the U.S. Embassy for the visa interview with all the required documents. On the day of the visa interview and at the discretion of the adjudicating consular officer, applicants may be asked to present secondary documents to support the claimed marital relationship. These documents may include letters, photographs, joint ownership of assets, bank accounts, and telephone bills. Otherwise, the documents for a K visa application are the same as those for immigrant visa applications. Petitioners and beneficiaries are encouraged to gather complete documentation prior the interview appointment. Submission of incomplete documentation could result in delays with processing the K visa.

       

The U.S. Embassy may issue a 221(g) letter directing you to submit additional documents or information related to your visa application. Your application will be kept on hold at the U.S. Embassy until such a time as you submit those documents. This web page has more information about 221(g) letters and how to submit your documents.

K Visa Guide
Question K-1 Visa K-3 Visa IR-1 Visa
Visa type Nonimmigrant Nonimmigrant Immigrant
Where do I file the petition? Only in U.S. Only in U.S. May file abroad
Which petition form do I file? I-129F only I-129F and I-130 I-130 only
Are there any major restrictions I should know about? Single entry. Valid for 6 months; to marry petitioner within 90 days of entry to the United States and must adjust status. Multiple entry. Valid for two years, but must adjust status within 2 years. LPR status. Processing for green card begins on entry.
Can my fiancée/fiancé or spouse take her/his children? Yes. Only unmarried children under 21 but must be issued K-2 visa within one year of the K-1 issuance. Yes. Only unmarried children under 21. Yes, but separate IR-2 petitions must be filed for each child. Stepchild must be younger than 18 years old at time of parent's marriage.
Is an interview required? Yes Yes Yes
Which Affidavit of Support do I use? I-134 I-134 I-864
Does the U.S. Embassy need the original petition & documents from USCIS? Yes Yes Yes

Following-to-Join

The spouse and children of a principal applicant are entitled to derive immigration benefits from their principal's approved visa petition and may travel to the United States at a later date. Under no circumstance will the derivative spouse or child be allowed to travel to the U.S. ahead of the principal applicant.

Following-to-join applicants may derive immigration benefits only if:

  • The spouse or children were acquired before the principal applicant's admission into the United States; and
  • The principal applicant gained lawful permanent resident (LPR) status or was issued an immigrant visa under the family-preference (F) or employment-based (E) visa categories or was issued a non-immigrant K or V visa. Foreign nationals who immigrated to the U.S. under an immediate relative (IR) visa category need to file a separate Form I-130 visa petition on behalf of their spouses and children.
  • The principal applicant has not naturalized. Once the principal applicant becomes a U.S. citizen, a separate visa petition needs to be filed on behalf of the spouse and/or children to qualify for immigration benefits again.

Following-to-join derivative beneficiaries must present documentation establishing the principal applicant's immigration status in the United States and their relationship to their principal. These include:

  • A copy of the child's birth certificate issued by the National Statistics Office;
  • A copy of the marriage certificate issued by the National Statistics Office;
  • A copy of the principal alien's registration receipt card or I-551 or a copy of the principal alien's passport pages indicating admission to the U.S. as an immigrant; and
  • If applicable, Form I-824, Application for Action on an Approved Application or Petition.

To register a family member as a following-to-join derivative, the above documents may be faxed to the Immigrant Visa Section at (632) 301-2591 or mailed to the Operations Unit, Immigrant Visa Branch, U.S. Embassy, 1201 Roxas Blvd., Ermita, Metro Manila 1000. The documents must come with a letter of request clearly indicating the name of the applicant(s) and the applicant(s)' contact address and telephone number.

Once the Embassy ascertains the eligibility for following-to-join derivative status, it will provide instructions on how to apply for the visas.

It is important to remember that a child is only eligible for following-to-join benefits if he or she is a child, step-child or adopted child in accordance with U.S. immigration law.

The State Department's National Visa Center (NVC) has been processing all following-to-join (FTJ) cases for derivative family members whose principal applicant had adjusted status in the United States. All FTJ case processing for Manila, including appointment scheduling, is now done at NVC. NVC is responsible for the collection of visa processing fees and documentation in support of immigrant visa applications. Applicants may wish to submit a copy of the Form I-824 to NVC to determine the applicant's entitlement to derivative status and initiate processing the visa application. The NVC mailing address is 32 Rochester Avenue, Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03801-2909. The NVC may be reached by email at NVCInquiry@state.gov.

Termination

Immigrant visa applications that are left inactive for a year are subject to termination procedures in accordance to the provision of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Visa applicants are advised to be timely in their responses and action to avoid termination of their application and eventual cancellation of the visa petition.

A Notice of Termination of Registration is sent if, after one year, the beneficiary fails to:

  • Apply for an immigrant visa despite official notification from the National Visa Center or the U.S. Embassy to apply or respond to Packet 3;
  • Show up for the visa interview without any prior written notification; or
  • Take further action on his/her visa application that had been refused under INA 221(g) or due to lack of documentation.

Beneficiaries may request reinstatement of their immigrant visa applications if, within a year of the termination notice, they are able to satisfactorily explain that their failure to pursue the application was for reasons beyond their control. Otherwise, visa applications will continue to be subject to cancellation procedures in accordance to U.S. immigration laws and regulations.

If applicants are not responsive despite a termination notice, a Final Notice of Cancellation is sent. The visa petition and its supporting documents are then purged.

More Information

More information about immigrant visa petitions is available at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website and the Department of Homeland Security/USCIS office at the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Window 35 (open Monday to Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon, Tel. no: (632) 301-2000, Ext. 2224).

Information regarding the Affidavit in Lieu of a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage is available from the U.S. Embassy's American Citizen Services Unit at (632) 301-2000, Ext. 4106.

If you have been scheduled for an interview, you may print and download the appropriate instructions and forms by clicking on the links below: