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Immigrant Visa Processing

An immigrant visa is a permanent visa, otherwise known as the “green card”. This process allows the foreign spouse and/or unmarried, dependent children of a U.S. citizen to live and work permanently upon entry into the United States.

An immigrant visa is issued to the spouse of a U.S. citizen provided that: a) the beneficiary is married to the U.S. citizen; b) a petition for alien relative has been filed by the U.S. citizen on behalf of their foreign national spouse and approved by CIS; and c) an immigrant visa number has been assigned to the beneficiary by the National Visa Center.

Once CIS approves the petition for alien relative, the NVC is notified and an immigrant visa number is assigned. The NVC sends a detailed package to the beneficiary outlining the comprehensive set of documents which will be needed to file the case for interview. Once the required information and documentation is sent to the NVC it is reviewed, and, if satisfactory, the case is sent to the appropriate Consulate for interview.

The interview at the Consulate is basically a review of the application forms and supporting documentation and also takes place to ensure that the beneficiary and U.S. citizen sponsor are in fact legitimately married and have not entered into an agreement for the sole purpose of evading immigration laws. Upon successful completion of the interview process, an immigrant visa packet is issued to the beneficiary. When the foreign national spouse enters the U.S. through the port-of-entry, Customs and Border Protection processes the immigrant visa packet and stamps their passport. At that time, the individual is considered a lawful permanent resident of the U.S. The actual green card arrives several months later.

If you have been married for less than two years at the time lawful permanent resident status is accorded, the foreign spouse will be given conditional status which is accorded for two years. Prior to the two year anniversary of the green card being granted, the couple must apply to remove the conditions on residency. This acts as an “insurance policy” to make sure that the couple is still married and living together as a bona-fide couple.