VIDEO: St. Louis Green Card Attorney Explains the 3 Stages of the Immigrant Visa Process

What are the three stages of any Immigrant Visa Petition? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking immigration attorney, St. Louis, Missouri. We thought we’d make this video to explain to you the different stages that an Immigrant Visa Petition goes through. After you submit all of your paperwork and you’ve sent all of your documents to the first agency to deal with your application, they’re processed. That agency is U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, known as USCIS. Around the country, the USCIS agency maintains various “lock boxes” which are places that accept filings in immigration cases, so depending on which part of the country you live in, your case will go to a different lock box and it will then be forwarded to a service center for background checks and adjudication.

At that point, that’s all done by mail and through paperwork. There’s no real interview or anything at that stage unless there’s a particular issue that the immigration service has identified in your case and they feel that they need to speak to the sponsoring American here in the United States. That is very, very rare so USCIS typically takes two or three months to process the application.  They may issue what’s called a request for evidence where they’re asking for more documentation.  There’s no real interaction directly between the beneficiary or the applicant and the immigration service.  Everything at that stage is done on paper.

Once the USCIS part of the process has been completed, they forward the application to a place called the National Visa Center, the NVC which is located in New Hampshire.  This is sort of a second round of scrutiny on the application.  This part is done not under the USCIS offices, but rather under the Department of State and this is where the Department of State is reviewing the application to make sure that everything is in order for the case to be sent to the Embassy for an interview.  At the NVC, a lot of times you’ll get back what’s called a checklist.  They have a list of things that they want to make sure are in the application and they will ask for supplementation if there are things that are missing.

It’s also at the National Visa Center where you pay the Visa fee and the affidavit support fee and your document that you’re going to be able to support this person who you asked to receive an Immigrant Visa for.  At that point, once the National Visa Center approves it which takes another three or four months, the case is forwarded on to the Embassy closest to where your intended beneficiary is residing.  For instance if they’re living in Lyon, France, they’ll go to the U.S. Embassy in Paris for their interview and sometimes depending on how busy the Embassy is, there’ll be a significant wait between when the National Visa Center approves the application and when it’s sent to the Consulate for interview.

It’s really at that point at the Consulate interview that the beneficiary will have their real interaction with any agency of the U.S. Government to see if they should receive the Immigrant Visa.  They usually give you plenty of [lead 00:03:22] time usually three, four, five, six weeks between leaving the National Visa Center and the date of your interview.  You’ll usually know far in advance as to when your interview is.  You don’t want to reschedule that interview if you can avoid it because that will just delay your case even longer.

Those are the three stages of an Immigrant Visa Application.  You start at USCIS.  You go to the National Visa Center.  Then, you go to the Embassy.  Once the interview is complete, they’ll usually take your passport and send it back to you some various means with a Visa stamp for you to come to the United States and then once your intended comes to the United States you file one more form electronically, pay one more fee and if all goes well their Green Card arrives shortly thereafter.

If you have any questions about any of these stages, the USCIS stage, the National Visa Center or the Embassy, feel free to give us a call, 314-961-8200 or you can email me jim@hackinglawpractice.com.  Thanks.