Immigrant Visa FAQ

Q.1 What is the difference between an immigrant and nonimmigrant visa?

An immigrant visa is issued to a qualified person who has an approved petition based on a family or work relationship and who wishes to live in the U.S. permanently. A non-immigrant visa is issued to a person who is traveling to the U.S. for a specific purpose (vacation, studies, medical treatment, business, temporary work) and who will depart the U.S. after completion of that purpose.

Q.2 What else may delay a decision on my application?

During the visa interview, the consular officer determines if additional documents are required to help establish your eligibility for visa issuance. Secondary documents are not statutorily required. However, applicants should submit secondary documents to help establish their qualifications. When you are asked to provide additional information or supporting documents, your application is generally refused under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. A consular sheet is given to you after the interview indicating the additional documentation you should present.

Q.3 What else may delay a decision on my application?

The Embassy may ask the Philippine Government agency in charge of civil records or other official agencies to confirm or verify information about an applicant. An unterminated marriage to a person other than the petitioner, for instance, would disqualify an applicant with a spouse or a fiancé(e) petition.

The Embassy may also conduct investigations to determine the qualifications of applicants to be eligible for visa issuance.

When these extra steps are taken, visa issuance may be delayed. Applicants are advised not to finalize their travel arrangements until they have been issued visas.

Q.4 Will the same consular officer talk to me if I have to return to the Embassy?

There is no assurance that you will be seen by the same consular officer. All officers have access to the same information about your case and should review your application based on the same requirements.

Q.5 Can I request an earlier interview appointment? Or if I did not come for my scheduled interview, can I request a new interview appointment?

If an applicant wishes to schedule an earlier visa interview appointment, he/she should write the Embassy or contact the Visa Information and Appointment Service at:

Contact Address

or online or by calling (632) 982-5555. Callers in the U.S. may call (214) 571-1600 to request an earlier appointment. Requests for earlier appointments are granted only if there are available slots.

Q.6 Can the children of an immigrant visa applicant be included in a single petition?

Children of American citizens are considered Immediate Relatives (IR) and must have individual petitions filed for them. Petitions for immediate relatives may be filed simultaneously at the USCIS.

Children of applicants with family-based petitions (F category) may derive immigration benefits from the same petition provided that they are single and under 21. Such children are called "derivatives" for purposes of immigration. Only biological or legally-adopted children are entitled to derivative status. A non-orphan adopted child must have been legally adopted before the age of 16 and must have been in the physical and legal custody of the adoptive parent for at least two years.

A child born after a petition was filed and approved may be registered or added on to the petition as a derivative. The principal applicant needs to submit the child’s birth certificate printed on NSO paper either to the NVC or to the Embassy and pay the corresponding visa processing fee for each additional derivative.

Q.7 Can my child, who is nearing 21 years old, be issued a visa before he turns 21?

If visa numbers are available for you (or your visa case becomes current for processing) and your child is "aging out" (or turning 21), we are prepared to expedite the processing of the application. However, it is still the applicant’s responsibility to complete the application requirements in a timely manner.

U.S. immigration law requires that visa applications be strictly processed according to priority date because of the limited number of visas available worldwide. This means the Embassy will not process visa applications with priority dates that are not current. If your case is current for processing, you may proceed to St. Luke’s Medical Center Extension Clinic to pick up your appointment letter.

If you believe ageing out will affect your case, you may contact the Embassy by fax at (632) 301-2591 or by mail at:

From within the Philippines: Operations Unit , Immigrant Visa Branch, United States Embassy, 1201 Roxas Blvd., Ermita, Metro Manila 1000.

From outside the Philippines: Operations Unit, Immigrant Visa Branch, PSC 500, Box 26, FPO

AP, 96515-1000 USA.

Q.8 What happens if a petition is filed by a Lawful Permanent Resident (F2A or F2B) and the petitioner becomes a U.S. citizen before the applicant is called for an interview?

When the petitioner naturalizes, the F2A petition (spouse or minor child of a permanent resident) is automatically converted to an IR1 (spouse of an American) or IR2 (child of an American) petition. 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.

However, because there are no derivative beneficiaries allowed with IR petitions, children who are derivative applicants on a parent’s F2A application must each have a separate IR2 petition filed for them if the petitioner becomes a U.S. citizen. F2A petitioners who naturalize should make sure to file new IR2 petitions for their children (if they did not originally file separate petitions for them).

For F2B applicants (unmarried son/daughter of a permanent resident), their F2B petitions are automatically converted to the F1 category retaining the original priority date when their petitioners naturalize. Because of unique circumstances, the waiting period for the F1 category is longer than the F2B category in the Philippines. However, under Section 6 of the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), the applicant (not the petitioner) can request exemption from the automatic conversion of the visa category from F2B to F1 by submitting to the Department of Homeland Security/U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (DHS/USCIS) a written statement that he/she elects to have such conversion revoked. The applicant may send the written request for retention of his/her F2B category to the DHS/USCIS office in Manila by fax at 301-2208 (Attn: Field Office Director) or by mail: DHS/USCIS, U.S. Embassy, 1201 Roxas Blvd., Ermita, Metro Manila 0930.

Q.9 I immigrated to the United States as the adopted child of a petitioner. Now that I am a United States citizen, can I petition for my natural parent(s)?

No. Once your are issued an immigrant visa as an adopted child, your biological parents can no longer benefit from a petition that you file.

Q.10 We have raised a child who is neither our biological or legally adopted child. Can he/she be included as a derivative on our immigrant visa application?

No. A child may only become your derivative if that child is either born to you or meets the definition of an adopted child under the Immigration and Nationality Act. If you attempt to bring in a child who does not meet any of these definitions, you risk being denied an immigrant visa and being barred permanently from entering the United States. See Adopted Children for more information on adopting in the Philippines.

Q.11 I was petitioned by a relative several years ago, but my petitioner has moved back to the Philippines. Can I still immigrate to the United States?

U.S. immigration law requires that petitioners be domiciled or reside in the United States. The purpose of family-sponsored immigrant visas is to reunite family members. For more information on this issue, please see the section on What is the U.S. Domicile Requirement For Petitioners?.

Q.12 Can a child born outside the United States to Lawful Permanent Residents enter the United States?

A child born abroad to parents who are U.S. Lawful Permanent Residents may enter the United States without a visa, provided the child is accompanied by a parent, upon that parent’s first return to the United States within two years of the child’s birth. The parent must provide reliable documentation showing the parent-child relationship.

Q.13 The Lawful Permanent Resident parents left the child abroad with family members and returned to the United States. Now, they wish to bring the child to the U.S. What must they do?

The child must have an immigrant visa to enter the United States. The Lawful Permanent Resident parent(s) must file an F2A (minor child) or F2B (unmarried child over 21 years old) preference petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. For the Philippines this can involve a wait of several years.

Q.14 I was a Lawful Permanent Resident ("Green Card" holder) who left the United States for several years. Can I still return to the United States using my Green Card?

As a Lawful Permanent Resident you may remain outside the United States for only one (1) year unless you receive a re-entry permit from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your departure from the United States. Otherwise, you are considered to have forfeited your status and must either be re-petitioned or apply for a Returning Resident Visa. The returning resident visa is granted only when circumstances beyond your control prevented you from returning to your U.S. domicile within the required period of time.

Q.15 How can I enter the Diversity Visa or green card lottery?

The Philippines is NOT included in the diversity immigrant program because Filipinos receive large numbers of visas through regular immigration categories.

Q.16 Can a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident file a petition at any foreign service post for a relative?

Authority to accept a petition rests solely with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Petitions must be filed in the petitioner’s place of residence. If the petitioner resides in the United States, the petitioner must file at the USCIS office that has jurisdiction over his place of residence. If the petitioner resides abroad, he should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where he currently resides or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services office, if one exists, at the Foreign Service post for information.

Q.17 Can I still qualify for a tourist visa if I have a pending immigrant petition?

Having an immigrant petition on file is not grounds for an automatic refusal for a non-immigrant visa. The consular officer reviewing your non-immigrant visa application will require strong evidence that you are not intending to immigrate at this time and that you are returning to the Philippines after your planned and temporary visit to the United States.

Immigrant Visa Fees FAQs

  1. GENERAL

    Q.1 Why are you changing the fees at this time?

    To ensure that the Department of State recovers the true costs of consular services through user fees, as required by law. The changes to our fee schedule reflect more accurately the true expenditure of doing business. This way, services of direct benefit to individuals, organizations, or groups are paid for by the users rather than by taxpayers in general.

    Q.2 Did the Department of State give this much thought?

    The Department of State reviewed its current consular fees based on a cost of service study completed in June 2009. This study, involving two years of research, was the most detailed, comprehensive study of consular fees that the Department of State has completed.

    Q.3 What will the increase in fees pay for?

    The changes in consular fees would cover actual operating expenses for the 301 consular posts abroad, 23 domestic passport agencies, and other centers that provide consular services to both U.S and foreign citizens. As is the case in all U.S. government user charges, consular fees allow us to recover the costs of services from which a specific user - whether a U.S. or foreign citizen - derives a special benefit beyond those that accrue to the general public. Services of direct benefit to individuals, organizations, or groups are paid for by the users rather than by taxpayers in general.

    Q.4 Why have some fees increased more than others?

    The cost of service study completed in June 2009 is the most detailed and exhaustive study the Department of State has ever conducted. It gives us greater clarity into our actual costs and allows us to differentiate between specific services within an activity category. As a result, and because it is equitable, we are establishing tiered fees for some service categories, (such as nonimmigrant visa application fees and immigrant visa processing fees). We will charge more for those cases that require extensive processing and less for more straight-forward cases, better reflecting the cost of providing these services.

    Q.5 Have some fees decreased?

    Yes. The fee for determining returning resident status of a U.S. lawful permanent resident has decreased from $400 to $380 because improvements in automated systems have made it easier to provide that service. The hourly rate for consular time, which is applied to services that are not provided often enough to develop a reliable estimate of the average time involved (such as supervising telephone depositions), has been reduced based on the findings of the cost of service study. The application processing fees for two categories of immigrant visas are also lower than the previous flat fee (see items 32(a) and 32(c) of the proposed Schedule of Fees).

  2. IMMIGRANT VISA FEES

    Q.1 When do the new IV processing fees go into effect?

    The new fees will take effect on July 13, 2010. IV applicants must start paying the new processing fees as of that date. Applicants who receive bills from the National Visa Center (NVC) that are dated after July 13 must pay the new processing fees.

    Q.2 What if I already paid all IV fees applicable to my case?

    Fees paid at posts and to NVC prior to the publication of the final rule are considered paid in full at the current rate, and these applicants will not be required to pay additional fees to cover the difference between the current and new fees. Applicants already billed by NVC prior to the publication of the final rule will only pay the fees billed, regardless of whether they pay before or after the new fees are implemented.

    Q.3 What if I receive a bill from NVC after the new IV fees go into effect on, but it is dated prior to that date?

    Fees billed by NVC prior to July 13, 2010, will be honored at the previous rate at which they were originally billed. These applicants will not be billed at a later date for additional fees to cover the difference between the current and new fee rates, regardless of when they pay.

    Q.4 Are there any exceptions?

    Yes. If applicants paid their visa application processing fees before March 2005, they would be required to pay the security surcharge.

CONTACT THE IMMIGRANT VISA UNIT

BY FAX:
(632) 301-2591

  • Clearly indicate in your communication your full name, your current mailing address, your telephone number and/or fax number, the applicant's full name, the applicant’s case number, the applicant’ s visa category, and the applicant’s priority date.
  • Please limit your message to 500 characters or less.
  • Only send supporting information about an applicant’s case if it has been specifically requested by a consular officer.
  • Do not send Affidavits of Support. These are not valid if transmitted by fax, as they must contain original signatures.

BY E-MAIL:

support-philippines@ustraveldocs.com, To enable us to electronically sort the messages and provide better, more timely responses, you should follow the instructions below.

  • The subject line of your email should indicate the visa applicant’s last name, first and middle name (ex. DOE, John James), case number/USCIS receipt number, visa category and priority date.
  • Messages should be limited to 500 characters or less.
  • The mail size should not be more than 15 KB.
  • Do not submit documentation or attachments with your message as our system does not allow attachments.
  • Do not send your inquiry more than once as duplicate inquiries will congest our system and delay our response time.

Before submitting your inquiry, please review our website where you will find answers to many of your questions regarding the immigrant visa process.

If you are NOT the applicant/petitioner/lawyer/designated agent, click here to continue. 

BY MAIL:

From within the Philippines: Chief, Immigrant Visa Branch, United States Embassy, 1201 Roxas Blvd., Ermita, Metro Manila 1000

From outside the Philippines: Chief, Immigrant Visa Branch, PSC 500, Box 26, FPO AP, 96515-1000 USA

  • DO NOT send registered mail.
  • Do not address correspondence to a person by name. Employees are transferred on a regular basis, so any mail addressed to an individual may be forwarded to that person and not to the section where your concern would be addressed.
  • If you have an e-mail address, please include it in your letter.

BY TELEPHONE:

The Visa Information and Appointment Service can be reached at (632) 982-5555.  Callers in the U.S. should contact the Call Center at (214) 571-1600.  The Visa Information and Appointment Service is open Monday through Friday, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. except on U.S. and Philippine holidays.  Callers may speak with an English, Tagalog, Ilocano or Cebuano speaking operator.

Visa Call Center service representatives can provide general information and appointment-related inquiries only.

Note: The National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, New Hampshire forwards immigrant visa cases to the U.S. Embassy in Manila only when interview slots are available. The NVC, not the Embassy, schedules immigrant visa interviews. For K visa applications, the NVC forwards the petitions to Manila only after completing preliminary processing on those cases. If you would like to check on the status of your case, NVC can be reached at (603) 334-0700.

REPORTING FRAUD

Committing visa fraud or lying on your petition, visa application or to a Consular Officer may result in the revocation of your petition and/or a permanent ineligibility to travel, work or immigrate to the United States. If you suspect someone of fraud, we ask you to report it immediately to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. The information you provide to the Embassy will remain confidential and will only be seen by Consular Officers and other U.S. Government employees working on a person’s visa case. In order to facilitate the reporting of fraud, we have created an electronic form that can be submitted directly to the U.S. Embassy in Manila. Please note that fabricating stories about visa applicants is not acceptable. We ask that you be as honest and concise in your statement as possible. If you would like to report visa fraud, please click here.