The First Step Toward an Immigrant Visa

File Form I-130. A sponsoring relative must file a Petition for Alien Relative

Fees for I-130 Petition

  • For I-130 Petition: $535.00 USD
    This fee is non-refundable and is charged regardless of whether the petition is approved or not. This fee is payable when you file an I-130 petition within the US to USCIS.

Proof of your (the petitioner’s) legal status

  • Proof of US citizenship with a copy of birth certificate if born in the US, copy of citizenship naturalization certificate, or copy of US passport. If permanent resident, then a copy of your green card.

Proof of family relationship

  • Birth registration documents
  • Marriage and relationship documents
  • Genuine relationship evidence
  • Evidence of parental responsibility/custody

Passport photos, 2″x2″ full face color

  • A passport-style color photo of yourself and a passport-style color photo of your relative, taken within 30 days of the date of this petition.

Prior Marriage Documents (if any)

  • A copy of any divorce decrees, death certificates, or annulment decrees if either you or your fiancé(e) have been previously married

Next Steps – Fees, Affidavit of Support, and Visa Application

After the beneficiary (the alien relative) has received a visa number from the Department of State, they will apply for an immigrant visa with a US consulate in their home country. The following are the Requirements for concurrent

After USCIS approves the petition, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). Once received, the NVC will assign a case number for the petition. In general, the following documents are required:

Submit Visa Application Form DS-260

Passport(s) valid for six months

Two (2) 2×2 photographs

Affidavit of Support (Form I-864I-864AI-864 EZ, or I-864W, as appropriate)

Civil Documents for the applicant

After you collect your financial forms and supporting financial evidence, you and each family member immigrating with you to the United States should collect the civil documents that are required to support your visa application. You need to:

Send a photocopy of all required civil documents to NVC. (See submission instructions).

Bring the original documents (or certified copies) plus a photocopy to your visa interview at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

  • Police Certificates (If you are 16 years of age or older, you must submit a photocopy of a police certificate from all countries you have lived)
  • Military Records (If you served in the military of any country, you must obtain a photocopy of your military record)
  • Marriage Termination Documentation (If you were previously married, you must obtain evidence of the termination of EVERY prior marriage you have had. Your evidence must be an original or certified copy of one of the following documents:  FINAL legal divorce decree, death certificate, or annulment papers)
  • Marriage Certificates (If you are married, you must obtain an original marriage certificate or certified copy)
  • Court and Prison Records (If you were convicted of a crime, you must obtain a certified copy of each court and prison record, even if you were later granted amnesty, a pardon, or other act of clemency)
  • Birth Certificates (You and each family member immigrating with you must obtain an original birth certificate or certified copy)
  • Adoption Documentation (If an intending immigrant child was adopted and if the child’s application to immigrate is based upon a parent-child relationship, then you must submit the below custody documents)

Important Notice on Missing Documents: If a required document is unavailable per the country-specific guidelines in the Document Finder tool, you do not need to submit them to NVC. However, if you cannot obtain a required document for another reason, you must submit a detailed written explanation to NVC when you submit your other documents. The consular officer will then determine at the time of the visa interview whether you must obtain the missing document before a visa can be issued. As a general rule, any document that is listed as “available” on the Document Finder tool must be reviewed by a consular officer. Failure to obtain all required documents will delay your case.

Next Steps – Submit Documents to the NVC

After you collect the financial evidence (Affidavit of Support) and supporting documents (Civil Documents), you must submit all of these items in ONE package to NVC. Your case may be significantly delayed if you don’t submit all of your documents at the same time.

Method 1: Upload documents online using CEAC required

Method 2: Email Processing required

IMPORTANT: Do not send your original documents (passport, birth and marriage certificates or original civil documents). Instead, submit a photocopy of these documents to NVC. However, you must bring these original documents to your visa interview.

Finally – Interview

NVC schedules appointments one month in advance. Most appointments are set within 60 days of NVC receipt of all requested documentation. Once your interview appointment is scheduled, NVC sends the immigrant visa petition, visa application, and all related forms and documents which were submitted to NVC to the appropriate U.S. Embassy/Consulate.

An interview appointment letter is sent to you (the applicant), as well as your petitioner (sponsor), and your agent/attorney (if applicable) to notify you and them of the date, time, and location of the interview once the embassy has an appointment available.

Important: Each visa applicant will need to complete the next steps in advance of the interview date:

  • Original forms and documents – You must bring the required ORIGINAL FORMS and DOCUMENTS to your immigrant visa interview.
  • Schedule and complete a medical examination with the authorized physician(s).  Medical Examination FAQs

Select Prepare for the Interview above to learn about these important next steps.

Watch the video, Preparing for Your U.S. Immigrant Video Interview. Instructional video is also available in SpanishPortugueseFrenchRussianChineseArabic, and Urdu.

You also may read about the 2018 HHS Poverty Guidelines for Affidavit of SupportDirect Filing Addresses for Form I-131

Also, read about

Green Cards for a spouse, minor children, and parents

Family members of a U.S. Citizen 

Green Card for family members of green card holders

Green Card based on approved status 

Remove the 2-year marriage condition

 Concurrent filing of form I-485

 Adjustment of Status Eligibility-requirements 

Consular processing 

Adjustment of Status with a criminal record 

Required documents for I-130 

Checklist of forms and supporting documents for form I-485 

Direct filing addresses for form I-485 application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status 

Preparing for your biometric services appointment




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  • Check Your Eligibility
  • Attorney’s Consultation(s) (The lawyer will guide you through the application process)
  • Less Questions, Faster Application (Work with your lawyer to prepare your application)
  • Instant Alerts Help You Avoid Mistakes (After your lawyer reviews your forms, they’ll call you to discuss any errors or answer your questions about your forms)
  • Technical Support (Access And Share Your Completed Forms After You File)
  • Ensures Completeness (Once it’s complete, Attorney do a final review and file the paperwork with the US government on your behalf)
  • Documents checklist (Work with your lawyer to prepare your application)
  • Personalized Instructions (Personalized Supporting Documents and Evidence Checklist)
  • Case submission (Your attorney will give you a checklist and guide you through the process collecting supporting evidence)
  • Case Status Online Check (Work with your lawyer to prepare your application)
  • Preparation for Immigration Interview (Your lawyer will file the application on your behalf)
  • Immigration Interview appearance ** (Included case by case and location)
  • Shipping Label With Tracking Number


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