Immigrant Visa Information

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Overview

Immigrant visas are for persons who plan to live permanently in the United States. The immigrant visa permits an application for admission to the United States as a Legal Permanent Resident and is a potential step toward acquiring U.S. citizenship. Most immigrant visa applications begin when a qualified family member who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident submits a petition on behalf of the intending immigrant to the U. S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States or at a U.S. Embassy abroad. The petition must be approved by the USCIS before applying for an immigrant visa. It is also possible for a U.S. employer to file a petition for a foreign national whom the employer wishes to hire for an eligible permanent position. 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.

Petitions

Effective August 15, 2011, petitioners residing in Bulgaria, where USCIS does not have a public counter presence, must file their Forms I-130 by mail with the USCIS Chicago lockbox. U.S. Embassies and Consulates that do not have a USCIS presence will only be able to accept and process Forms I-130 in exceptional circumstances, as outlined below. Forms I-130 that were properly filed at an Embassy or Consulate overseas where USCIS does not have a presence before August 15, 2011, will not be affected by this change.

Beginning August 15, 2011, petitioners in Bulgaria may also file through the USCIS Chicago Lockbox at one of the following addresses:

USCIS Chicago Lockbox addresses for regular mail deliveries:
USCIS
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-4107

USCIS Chicago Lockbox address for express mail and courier deliveries:
USCIS
Attn: I-130
131 South Dearborn Third Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

For additional information about how to file a Form I-130 with the USCIS Chicago lockbox, please see the USCIS website at http://www.uscis.gov or contact USCIS by telephone in the U.S. at 1-800-375-5283.

USCIS Immigrant Fee

Effective December 23, 2016, all individuals issued Immigrant visas overseas must pay a $220.00 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: www.USCIS.gov/immigrantfee.

Exceptional Filing

Beginning August 15, 2011, petitioners who believe their situation merits an exception may request the Consular Section to accept the filing. Each request will be evaluated individually.

A petitioner seeking to file a Form I-130 should contact the Consular Section to request consideration for exception and explain the circumstances in detail. The Consular Section will then relay the request for an exception to the USCIS field office with jurisdiction over the Embassy. The determination of whether the case presents exceptional circumstances which warrant an exception to the general filing process will be made by USCIS. USCIS will publish guidance on the circumstances that may qualify as exceptional on their website.

Embassy Appointment

If you have an interview date, you must appear at the Embassy on the date of your appointment. You should arrive at the Consulate fifteen minutes before your appointment. Please read about security restrictions at the Consulate that describe what you can and cannot bring with you to your interview. You should bring your appointment letter and the documents required for your visa class.