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Immigrant Visas

Immigration to the U.S.

Welcome to the Immigrant Visa Unit


An immigrant visa is required of anyone who wishes to enter the United States to reside there permanently, whether or not that person plans to seek employment in the U.S.  The filing of an immigrant visa petition is also the initial step required to receive a Permanent Resident card (also known as a “green card”).  An immigrant visa holder who successfully enters the U.S. with the intention to reside there will receive a Permanent resident card during the first year of residency.  In most cases, with the exception of the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery, you can only receive an immigrant visa if someone files an immigrant visa petition on your behalf.  You cannot petition for your own immigrant visa.

U.S. immigration law provides for the issuance of immigrant visas in four general categories:

  1. Sponsorship by an Immediate Relative
  2. Sponsorship by family member
  3. Sponsorship by a prospective employer
  4. Returning Resident - SB-1
  5. Winning the Diversity Immigrant Visa Lottery

All family and employment based applications start with a petition, filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  Diversity visa applications start with the aspiring immigrant entering the Diversity Visa Lottery


Filing the I-130 Petition:

Please review the Filing I-130 Petitions Overseas webpage for information regarding procedures for filing I-130 petitions for U.S citizens resident in the Republic of Ireland.

The Visa Application Process through NVC:

Once USCIS approves the petition, it is forwarded it to the National Visa Center (NVC) for preprocessing the visa application. NVC provides detailed instructions to the petitioner and the applicant and eventually (once all instructions have been complied with and all fees have been paid), NVC will send an Appointment Letter notifying the visa applicant of the date and time of the interview. The Embassy cannot advice you on when NVC might schedule your interview. Once NVC has scheduled the interview, the case file is forwarded to the Embassy in the country where the applicant resides.  Additional information regarding the visa application process by NVC is available on the NVC website.

The Immigrant Visa Interview:

Appointments are necessary for immigrant visa interviews, but the petitioner is not required to attend.

Applicants should bring all the required documentation to their interview including their valid passports, the medical examination report provided by the Embassy's panel physician, as well as any other documentation not already provided to NVC. You must bring an original and a clear photocopy of each document should you wish to retain the originals.

During the interview process, ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken. Each applicant must appear in person for his/her interview. At that time all documents will be evaluated by a consular officer and a decision will be made.  

Passport/Documentation Return following immigrant visa issuance

Immigrant visa applicants are required to register their visa appointment date with our CSC Call Center contractor for the return of documents.  Registration may not take place until you have received a consular interview appointment date and time from the National Visa Center (NVC), Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) or from the Consular Section, Immigrant Visa Unit in Dublin.  In addition to your case number, you will need to enter your official scheduled visa interview appointment date/time.  Be mindful that NVC, KCC or the Embassy IV set interview times and that you are not permitted to select your own visa appointment date/time.  If you attempt to do so, you will not be admitted to the consular section of the Embassy.  Please print the Registration Confirmation page and bring it to the interview. 

Please visit information on registering your visa appointment date and courier delivery to a DPD courier hub of your choice or to select home delivery Individual registration is required for each immigrant visa applicant.

Following visa issuance, immigrant visa supporting documents and your passport containing the immigrant visa will be available for collection at the DPD courier hub you choose on registration.  If you wish, you may select personal/business/home delivery.

Immigrant visa processing takes approximately 7-10 working days from receipt of all required documents for visa issuance and return. All passports are returned by the courier service. In person collection is not permitted. 

Visa Issuance is Not Guaranteed

No assurance can be given in advance that a visa will be issued to you. Only after all your documents have been checked and you have been interviewed by a consular officer, can a decision be made regarding your eligibility to receive a visa. Therefore, you should not resign from your employment, sell your property, or make final travel plans until you receive a visa.

Applicants may be found ineligible in accordance with immigrant visa law. 

Under U.S. visa law some people are permanently ineligible to receive an immigrant visa and are not eligible to enter the United States unless they have obtained a waiver of the permanent ineligibility. These include persons who have been afflicted with a disease of public health significance, a mental disorder which is associated with a display of harmful behavior, drug addicts/abusers, previous violations of U.S. immigration law, and those with criminal records. Anyone who has been arrested and/or convicted of any offense, regardless of when it may have occurred, is required to declare the arrest and/or conviction.

A determination on a person's eligibility for a visa cannot be made until the day of the formal visa interview.  If the applicant is found ineligible for a visa, the consular officer will advise the applicant if he/she is eligible to apply for a waiver of the permanent ineligibility. Further information on the waiver process is available from the USCIS website.


  • Effective February 1, 2013, all individuals issued
    immigrant visas overseas must pay a $165.00 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:

  • USCIS Centralizes Filing of Form I-130

    On August 15, 2011, USCIS centralized the processing of the I-130 petition. For more information regarding the procedure, please visit the USCIS website. 

Glossary of Visa Terms

  • Statue of Liberty on US Flag

Fee Schedule - USCIS

  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fee schedule effective  November 23, 2010.  Full details are at