Immigration to the U.S.
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:
Qs and As
When must I pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee?
You must pay the fee prior to departing for the United States.
USCIS will not issue your green card until USCIS receives
payment. However, even if you have not paid the fee, U.S.
Customs and Border Protection officers will admit you, as long
as you are otherwise eligible to enter.
What if I was issued an immigrant visa before February 1,
2013? Do I have to pay the fee?
No. Only applicants issued visas on or after February 1, 2013
will pay the new fee. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection
(CBP) officers at the airport or land border will review
immigration records to determine when your immigrant visa was
issued. If the visa was issued on or after February 1, 2013
but the fee was not paid, the Immigrant Visa package will be
collected at the point of entry, but USCIS will not issue a
green card until the $165.00 fee is paid.
Who has to pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee?
All applicants issued immigrant visas (including Diversity
Visas), except children adopted under the Orphan (IR-3/IR-4)
or Hague Processes (IH-3/IH-4), Iraqi and Afghan special
immigrants who were employed by the U.S. Government, returning
residents (SB-1s), and K visas, will pay the new fee.
How do I pay the new fee?
You will pay the fee by going to www.USCIS.gov/ImmigrantFee,
clicking on the link to the USCIS intake page on Pay.gov,
answering the questions on the USCIS intake page, and
providing your checking account, debit, or credit card
information. Because checking payments must be drawn on a
U.S. bank, someone else may pay the USCIS Immigrant Fee on
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:
- Sponsorship by an Immediate Relative
- Sponsorship by family member
- Sponsorship by a prospective employer
- Returning Resident - SB-1
- 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.
For application and documentation requirements for all immigrant visa categories please visit travel.state.gov
For information on immigrant visa priorty dates, cut-off dates and numerical limitations, please visit travel.state.gov
Filing the I-130 Petition:
Please review the Changes to Filing I-130 Petitions Overseas webpage on this site for information regarding new procedures for filing I-130 petitions overseas.
The Embassy's Visa Unit processes immigrant visa applications properly filed at the Embassy before August 15, 2011 and also conducts the formal visa interview for residents of the Republic of Ireland whose immigrant visa applications have been processed through the National Visa Center (NVC) in New Hampshire.
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 whose applications were processed by NVC should bring 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, to their visa interviews. Applicants whose applications were processed at the Embassy should carefully review the instructions they have received from the Embassy to ensure they have assembled all the necessary documents. 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.
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.
General Immigrant Visa Questions
Before submitting your inquiry, please carefully review the following web sites, USCIS website, or travel.state.gov website, and the Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs website. Very often you will find the information you need. Due to the current volume of inquiries, our Visa Unit cannot promise an immediate reply to your inquiry.
If your inquiry concerns a visa that was not yet assigned a case number, you should first contact the NVC (National Visa Center), through: firstname.lastname@example.org.
If your petition is pending approval with USCIS in the United States, you can check the status of the petition by entering your receipt number in the Case Status section of USCIS's home page.
Retirement to the United States
Unfortunately, no provision exists under U.S. visa law to qualify for immigration on the basis of retirement to the United States. Immigration is primarily family or employment based.
General information is also available by calling the Visa Information Service.
USCIS Centralizes Filing of Form I-130
Effective August 15, 2011, USCIS will centralize the processing of the I-130 petition. For more information regarding the new procedure, please visit the USCIS website.
Fee Schedule - USCIS
- U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) fee schedule effective November 23, 2010. Full details are at uscis.gov