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The Immigrant Visa Process

Visa Applicant Interview

Attend Your Interview

Prior to the interview, ensure you have followed the U.S. Embassy or Consulate interview preparation instructions. On the scheduled date and time of your interview appointment, go to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. A consular officer will interview you (and accompanying family member beneficiaries) and determine whether or not you can receive an immigrant visa. As part of the interview process, ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken.

Who Must Attend the Interview?

You, your spouse, and any qualified unmarried children immigrating with you, must participate in the interview.  All applicants required to participate will be named on the interview appointment letter you receive from the NVC.

If your spouse and/or qualified unmarried children will immigrate at a later date and travel separately from you, they are not required to participate in your interview. They will be scheduled for a separate interview appointment. You should contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate directly to arrange separate interviews, if needed.

Your sponsor/petitioner does not attend the visa interview.

What to Bring to the Interview

The applicant is responsible to bring all required original civil documents, and photocopies of the original civil documents, to the visa interview. Failure to bring all required original civil documents and the photocopies to the interview may cause delay or denial of the visa.  The following documents must be available at the interview:

  • Appointment Letter – The interview appointment letter you received from the NVC.
  • Passport – For each applicant, an unexpired passport valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States
  • Photographs  Two identical color photographs for each applicant, which must meet the general Photograph Requirements
  • Medical Exam Results – If the panel physician gave you sealed envelopes containing each applicant’s medical examination results, please bring those unopened envelopes.  Some physicians send the medical examination results directly to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
  • Original and Supporting Documents – Original documents (or certified copies) and a photocopy of each document (with the exception of your passport and photographs) are required for you and each family member applying for a visa. As explained in the Interview Preparation webpage, the NVC will forward your application and any other documents you sent to the NVC to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate prior to your interview. 

You must bring all your original forms and documents with you.

Your original documents will be returned to you when the interview has been completed. The photocopies will be kept.

  • English Translations  If documents requiring English translation were not sent to the NVC, you must obtain them and present them on the day of your interview. For more information review Interview Preparation and Original Documents
  • Visa Fees  If your visa application fees were collected by the NVC, you do not need to pay again. However, if you or any family member did not pay all the necessary fees, you will be asked to pay any unpaid fees at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. 

Important Notice

You should not make permanent financial commitments, such as selling your house, car or property, resigning from your job or making non-refundable flight or other travel arrangements until you have received your immigrant visa.

Additional Information

Failure to Appear for Interview - If you cannot appear at your scheduled interview, contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate as soon as possible.  If you do not contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate within one year of receiving your interview appointment letter, your case may be terminated and your immigrant visa petition cancelled, and any fees paid will not be refunded.

Need to change the interview date and time - Review Interview Guidelines for the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where your interview is scheduled.

My spouse and/or children were going to follow me to the United States after I immigrate. Can they accompany me instead? - Yes, you may change your spouse’s and/or children's status from follow-to-join to accompanying by directly contacting the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where your interview is scheduled.  This may be done prior to your immigrant visa interview, and additional forms and documents may need to be provided.

Can my children also receive immigrant visas, even if they were not originally part of the case? - If the immigrant visa category in which you are applying includes derivative children, your qualified unmarried children under the age of 21 may be added as derivative applicants after your interview has been scheduled. Contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate for specific instructions. At the interview, the additional applicant(s) will be required to pay the same fees and submit the same forms and supporting documents as you.

Visa eligibility: My child will turn 21 years old soon - Children generally must be unmarried and under age 21 to qualify as derivative visa applicants, or to qualify for immigrant visas individually in the IR-2 or F-2A visa categories. Also, they generally must enter the United States with immigrant visas while still under age 21. 

Under, the Child Status Protection Act, some children might continue to qualify for a visa and enter the United States after reaching the age of 21.  If you have a child who will be turning 21 soon, you should have already notified the NVC.  The NVC may be able to expedite your case.  If you did not notify the NVC, then you should immediately contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where your interview is scheduled.  The U.S. Embassy or Consulate will determine whether an earlier appointment is needed. If your child no longer qualifies to immigrate with you based on age, then a separate petition must be filed for the child. There may be a significant delay before your child becomes qualified for a visa.

Visa eligibility: My petitioning spouse/parent became a U.S. citizen - 

If the family member in the United States who petitioned for you has become a U.S. citizen, you should immediately contact the U.S. Embassy where your interview is scheduled. They will need proof of your petitioner’s naturalization, so please obtain one of the following documents:

  • A copy of the biodata page of your petitioner’s U.S. passport; or
  • A copy of your petitioner’s certificate of naturalization.

Effect on spouses and minor children: If you are applying for a visa in the family second preference (F2A) category, when your petitioning spouse/parent becomes a U.S. citizen you become eligible for the immediate relative (IR) visa category. This benefits application because there are no limits on the number of visas that can be issued each year in the IR categories.

  • Important: If your minor children are listed on your F2A visa application as “derivative applicants,” now that your petitioner is a U.S. citizen he/she must file new and separate petitions for each child. This is because children cannot be included as “derivative applicants” on a parent’s immediate relative (IR) visa. (This is different from the family second preference (F2A) petition, which allows minor children to be included in their parent's F2A petition.)

  • Children born abroad after a parent became a U.S. citizen may qualify for U.S. citizenship. They should apply for U.S. passports. The consular officer will determine whether the child is a U.S. citizen and can have a passport. If the consular officer determines the child is not a U.S. citizen, the child must apply for an immigrant visa if he/she wants to live in the United States.

Effect on adult children: If you are applying for a visa in the family second preference (F2B) category as an unmarried adult child (age 21 or older), when your petitioning parent becomes a U.S. citizen you become eligible for the family first preference (F1) visa category. However, under a federal law called the Child Status Protection Act (CSPA), you can “opt out” of conversion to the F1 visa category and remain an F2B visa applicant. This may be beneficial because sometimes the waiting time for an F2B visa is shorter than the waiting time for an F1 visa. You should check the Visa Bulletin to see if it would be helpful for you to remain in the F2B category. (Applicants keep the priority date of their F2B petition even if it converts to the F1 visa category.) If you want to opt-out of the F1 category, you must submit a request using these guidelines:

  • Applicants whose case is at NVC should submit requests using NVC’s online inquiry form. NVC will forward the request to USCIS and change the visa category back to F2B upon receipt of USCIS’s approval.

  • Applicants whose case is at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate overseas should ask the embassy to submit a request on their behalf. The consular officer will forward the request and adjudicate the visa application in the F2B category only upon receipt of USCIS’s approval.