Immigrant Visa Information

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Overview

In general, a person who wishes to immigrate to the United States must have a petition approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before applying for an immigrant visa. The petition is filed either by a qualified relative or a potential employer at a USCIS office in the United States. 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.

Immigrant Visas

An immigrant visa is a document issued by a U.S. consular officer abroad that allows you to travel to the United States and apply for admission as a lawful permanent resident (LPR).

In general, to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative(s), U.S. lawful permanent resident, or by a prospective employer, and be the beneficiary of an approved petition.

Due to the restrictions in U.S. Law, Cuban citizens generally do not qualify for employment-based immigrant visas.

Diversity Lottery Visa Program

The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available up to 55,000 diversity visas (DVs) annually, drawn from random selection among all entries to persons who meet strict eligibility requirements from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States.

General Information

People who wish to participate in the Diversity Visa Program must submit entries electronically during the registration period using the electronic DV entry form (E-DV).  The registration period normally runs from early October to early November.  Actual dates are announced by the Department of State each year.  Paper entries are not accepted. There is no fee to enter the Diversity Visa lottery; if a website requests you pay a fee in order to enter the program the website is not the official website and is likely a scam.  (Please note that while there is no fee to enter the lottery, winning applicants will need to pay the visa application fee when they interview.  This fee will be paid at the U.S. Embassy on the day of the interview.  Do not pay application fees to any other person.)

For more information, see Diversity Visa Program.  These instructions must be followed exactly; failure to include all required family members in the initial entry will result in the automatic refusal of the case at the time of the interview. 

Pre-Selection

A successfully registered entry will result in a confirmation screen containing your name and a unique confirmation number which you should print and retain. You can check the status of your DV entry by returning to the DV website and using your confirmation number to view "Entry Check Status". This is the sole means of informing you of your selection for DV Program. It is very important for entrants to keep a record of their unique confirmation number, notification and visa appointment letters will not be sent by mail in order to prevent fraud. Due to the number of people who are pre-selected but who do not continue with the process or who do not qualify for the visa; more candidates are preselected than there are visas available. Applicants should not quit their job or make travel plans on the basis of being pre-selected. Following the pre-selection process, the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC) will continue to process the cases and assign interview dates between October and September. Candidates are not finally selected for an interview until notified by KCC of the date and time of their interview appointment at the U.S. Embassy.

Consular Processing

On the day of their interview applicants need to be at the park located near the U.S. Embassy between Calzada and K streets by 7:00 a.m. The applicant must arrive alone for his/her scheduled appointment and bring the following documentation:

  • Appointment letter from the Kentucky Consular Center.
  • Valid passport
  • (2) Frontal color photos with white background measuring 50mm x 50mm.
  • Birth certificate.
  • Current marriage certificate, if married, and divorce and/or death certificates showing the end of all prior marriages.
  • Criminal Records from Cuba and also from any other country where the beneficiary has lived for more than one year since age 16.
  • Medical exam. Beneficiaries need to check the list of hospitals where they can have their medical examination.
  • Evidence of economic solvency such as a bona-fide employment offer and/or submission of the Affidavit of Support I-134.
  • Documentary evidence of education or work experience for the primary applicant.
Fees
Type of Visa Fee
Diversity Visa $330

On the day of their interview, applicants are required to pay the nonrefundable fee which is per person. Please note that this nonrefundable fee covers the cost of the interview and does not guarantee the issuance of an immigrant visa.

Cases in which Additional Documents are Requested

Applicants whose case is refused pending additional documents should return with those documents as soon as possible. The DV-2014 program will end on September 30, 2014 or when all available visas are issued, whichever is first. After that time, no additional visas can be issued, and all existing cases will close.

Requesting Parole

Eligible immigrant visa applicants who are over 21 years of age may request parole for certain family members. On the morning of the interview, the applicant should advise the document checker that he or she would like to request parole for certain a family member(s) not included in the case. Final decisions regarding parole requests are made by an USCIS official after the DV visa applicants have been approved and have received their visas.

There is very high demand for the Family-Based Parole program and the U.S. Embassy does not the capacity to meet this demand. As a result, there are very long wait times for an available interview. In most cases, based on current processing times, it will likely be faster for the original immigrant visa or CFRP applicant who requested parole to enter the United States, obtain their Lawful Permanent Resident status or U.S. Citizenship, petition for their family members directly, and elect processing under the Cuban Family Reunification Program, which has much lower wait times. Applicants can both request Family Based Parole at the time of their interview and, when they qualify to do so, later file I-130 immigrant visa petitions for their family members.

Additional Information

For additional information about this program, please contact the Kentucky Consular Center at phone number (606) 526-7500, fax (606) 526-7501, or e-mail kccdv@state.gov. For additional, prerecorded information regarding immigrant visa processing, please contact the Information Unit at (53)(7) 839-4101. For issues not answered by the telephone information, you may send an email to havanaconsularinfo@state.gov.

Returning Resident Visa (SB-1)

United States Lawful Permanent Residents who are unable to return to the United States for reasons beyond their control within one year of their departure from the United States – or before the end of their advance parole issued by DHS – may apply to the U.S. Embassy for a Returning Resident visa (SB-1). This process involves two parts.

Part One

Applicants should schedule an interview with a consular officer to determine eligibility for a Returning Resident visa (SB-1).  At the time of the interview, applicants must bring a completed DS-117 form available at http://travel.state.gov/, a non-refundable fee of $180 USD, and evidence that shows the following:

  • The applicant had lawful permanent resident status at the time of departure from the United States.
  • The applicant departed from the United States with the intention of returning and has not abandoned this intention; and
  • The applicant is returning to the United States from a temporary visit abroad and the applicant’s failure to return to the United States was caused by reasons beyond the applicant’s control and for which the applicant was not responsible. The circumstance that caused the applicant to remain in Cuba must have occurred within the first year of the applicant’s stay and continued until the present time.
Part Two

If the preliminary request is approved, applicants will be given a packet of instructions with documentation needed to immigrate to the United States. Once the applicant has completed all the documentation, the applicant may schedule an appointment to be processed as an SB-1 visa beneficiary. This part of the process requires payment of a second nonrefundable fee of $325.00 USD/CUC.

Fees
Type of Visa Fee
Returning Resident $180
SB1 Visa $325
Denials

Applicants that are denied a Returning Resident visa may ask a qualifying family member in the United States to file a new family-based petition on their behalf with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Attorneys and Family Members

The U.S. Embassy (USINT) of Havana appreciates the contributions that attorneys and family members may make to the expeditious processing of immigrant visa applications, especially in ensuring that all required documentation is in order and properly prepared prior to the interview. However, USINT does not permit attorneys or family members, with the exception of those assisting minors and physically disabled, to accompany immigrant visa applicants to their interviews or to participate in the interviews.

Additional Information

For additional information regarding returning resident immigrant visa processing, please contact the Information Unit at (53)(7) 839-4101 (Monday-Thursday, 8:00 AM-4:30 PM; Monday-Friday, 8:00AM-3:30PM). You may also send an email to havanaconsularinfo@state.gov.