Immigrant Visa Processing

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.

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

If you have an interview date, you must appear at the Embassy on the date of your appointment.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: All immigrant visa applicants must arrange for courier return of their issued visa using this service. This courier delivery is provided for no additional fee. Prior to your appointment date, click here to provide your courier address. Applicants or their representatives must have the applicant’s Immigrant Case Number as given in the Embassy notification letter available when they call to register their courier address.

Report for your interview at the U.S. Embassy fifteen minutes before your appointment. Please note the security restrictions on what you can bring in with you to your appointment. You should bring your appointment letter and the documents required for your visa class.

Approved visas are returned by courier. Click here to track your passport.

Wait Time

Every immigrant visa case is different, so it is difficult to estimate how long the process will take for any individual. But in general, there are three factors that contribute to the time required:

  • Time required to process petition. The time it takes for USCIS to approve a petition varies according to the type of petition and the specific USCIS office involved. Estimates for specific offices are available here.
  • Time to process through NVC and the Embassy. Once a petition is approved, if it is in an immediate relative category or has a current priority date, it is largely up to you how long it takes to get an interview appointment. The more quickly you follow the instructions provided by the National Visa Center and submit all requested documents, the sooner an appointment can be scheduled. Appointments are usually scheduled for the month after all documents are submitted. Visas are normally available within a few days of the interview.
  • Time for case to become current. For certain categories of immigrants, the law allows only a limited number of visas to be issued each year. These cases are processed strictly in order of the date the petition was filed (the priority date). Visas cannot be issued until an applicant's priority date is reached (becomes current). This could take several years. While it is impossible to say exactly how long it will take, the Visa Bulletin, published monthly, lists the priority dates currently being processed, which may provide an indication.

NOTE: When the petitioner naturalizes, all F2A petitions (spouse or minor child of a permanent resident) are automatically converted to IR1 (spouse of an American) or IR2 (child of an American) petitions. These visa categories are not subject to the visa quota system and will, therefore, always have visas available for the beneficiaries’ use if they qualify for visa issuance. Contact the Embassy for more information.