General information about immigrant visas can be found on the State Department’s website. The State Department’s website also provides information on the application and documentation requirements for each visa classification.
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services also provides information for individuals residing in the United States who would like to file an immigrant visa petition on behalf of a relative.
Effective August 15, 2011, petitioners residing overseas will no longer be able to routinely file Forms I-130, Petitions for Alien Relative, with U.S. Embassies and Consulates except in locations where U.S. Citizenship
and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a public counter presence within the Embassy or Consulate. Petitioners residing in Laos will be required, starting August 15, 2011, to 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.
Filing Instructions beginning August 15, 2011:
Beginning August 15, 2011, petitioners residing overseas who wish to file a Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, may do so as follows:
- If the petitioner resides in a country in which USCIS has a public counter presence, the Form I-130 may be filed directly with the USCIS field office (see instructions below) or through the USCIS Chicago Lockbox at one of the below addresses.
- If the petitioner resides in a country where USCIS does not have a public counter presence, the Form I-130 must be filed with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox at one of the addresses below, unless the petitioner requests and is granted an exception based on one of the criteria described below:
USCIS Chicago Lockbox addresses for regular mail
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-4107
USCIS Chicago Lockbox address for express mail and
131 South Dearborn-3rd 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 or contact USCIS by phone at 1-800-375-5283.
Filing at USCIS Overseas field offices:
From August 15, 2011, petitioners residing in a country where USCIS has a field office, with a public counter, may choose to file the Form I-130 either through the Chicago lockbox or at the USCIS field office.
Petitioners should contact the USCIS field office with any questions regarding the filing of petitions. For more information on where USCIS has overseas field offices and contact information, please visit the USCIS website.
Exceptional Filing at U.S. Embassies or Consulates without a USCIS Field Office:
Beginning August 15, 2011, petitioners, who do not reside in a country with a USCIS field office, but who believe that their situation merits an exception, may request an exception to allow the Consular Section at
the Embassy or Consulate to accept the filing. Each request for an exception will be evaluated individually.
A petitioner seeking to file a Form I-130 at an Embassy or Consulate where USCIS does not have a presence should contact the Consular Section to request consideration of the request 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 or Consulate. The determination of whether the case presents exceptional circumstances that warrant an exception to the general filing process will be made by USCIS. USCIS will be publishing guidance on the circumstances that may qualify as exceptional on the
Please contact the Consular Section at CONSLAO@state.gov for further information.
General information on immigrant visa application procedures can be found on the State Department Website.
Immigrant visa interviews take place on Mondays and Fridays from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. Interview appointments are scheduled by the National Visa Center (NVC). All applicants should appear at the Embassy at the time selected for their scheduled interview date. No applicants will be admitted after 10:00 a.m. Applicants not appearing during this time period must schedule a new appointment.
Every applicant for an immigrant visa is required to undergo a medical examination by a physician authorized by the Embassy. The applicant may also need vaccinations before a visa can be issued. Applicant must contact the physicians directly to arrange an appointment. All examination and immunization fees are the responsibility of the applicant. You must bring your appointment letter, passport, one photo (1 inch by 1.5 inches) and the fee for your medical examination processing. Applicants are also advised to bring copies of any medical record, prior x-rays and immunization records. The physician will complete the DS-2053, DS-3024, DS-3025, DS-3026 medical examination forms and the medical history forms before placing the documents in a sealed envelope. Do not open the envelope containing the medical examination results provided by the physician. Medical examinations are generally valid for 12 months.
A complete list of visa fees for immigrant visas is available on the State Department’s website.
Effective July 13, 2010, applicants for immediate relative and family preference visas must pay a non-refundable visa processing fee of $330 and a security surcharge of $74 for a total application processing fee of $404. This fee is usually paid directly to the National Visa Center (NVC) in the United States by the petitioner, but can also be paid to the Consular cashier the morning of the scheduled visa interview. The fee must be paid in full before the visa interview. A receipt will be provided for all payments to the Consular cashier. In addition to the Consular fees, there are additional fees for the required medical examination and vaccinations. These fees vary depending upon the medical facility and the number of vaccinations and diagnostic tests required by the visa applicant. Fees for the medical examination and vaccinations should be paid directly to the medical facility.
The Visa Bulletin provides the most up-to-date information about immigrant visa numerical limitations, priority dates, and cut-off dates.
Please keep in mind that your signature on any visa application form is your guarantee that all information you provide is true and correct. You are personally and legally responsible, even if a travel agent or someone else prepares documents for you. Any fraudulent documents or misleading statements may result in your permanent ineligibility for any future visa.
You are not allowed to bring electronic devices, including mobile telephones, into the Embassy. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your cooperation.
American citizens who filed an immigrant visa petition on behalf of a relative may accompany their relative to the interview. However, American citizens are not allowed to participate in the interview.
Visas are generally available to be picked up within a week of the determination by the consular officer that the visa will be issued. The exact date the visa will be issued is indicated by the consular officer at the final interview and is written on the visa issuance slip given to the visa recipient. All visas are available to be picked up at 3:30pm unless otherwise indicated. Please do not make any binding travel plans until you have received your visa. The processing time noted above is an estimate; timing will vary on the individual circumstances of each case.
Applicants refused under Section 221(g) may submit the requested documents or information on Mondays or Fridays at 8:00AM. For information on refusals and other ineligibilities, please visit the State Department’s website.