Immigrating to another country can be a daunting and complex process. The immigration process varies from country to country and can be further complicated by various factors such as the type of visa being applied for, the applicant’s qualifications, and the country’s immigration policies. In the United States, the immigration process involves several steps, each with its own set of requirements and processing times.
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This article will explore the 12 steps in immigration processing, including information on processing times, fees, and other important considerations.
Step 1: Determine Eligibility
The first step in the US immigration process is determining eligibility. Eligibility requirements vary depending on the type of visa being applied for. There are several types of visas available for individuals seeking to immigrate to the United States, including family-based visas, employment-based visas, and humanitarian visas. Each immigrant visa processing has its own set of eligibility requirements, which can include things like age, education, work experience, language proficiency, and criminal history.
Step 2: File a Petition
Once eligibility has been determined, the next step in the US immigration process is filing a petition. Petitions are typically required for family-based and employment-based visas. The petitioner is responsible for filing the petition on behalf of the beneficiary, who is the person seeking to immigrate to the United States. Petitions must be filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Step 3: Wait for Approval
After the petition has been filed, the petitioner and beneficiary must wait for approval from USCIS. Processing times vary depending on the type of visa being applied for and the workload of USCIS. The processing times for family-based immigration can take several months, while employment-based immigration can take up to a year or more.
Step 4: File an Immigrant Visa Application
Once the petition has been approved, the beneficiary can file an immigrant visa application. The application must be filed with the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC). The immigrant visa application processing fee must also be paid at this time.
Step 5: Wait for the Processing
After the immigrant visa application has been filed, the beneficiary must wait for processing. The processing time for immigrant visa applications varies depending on the workload of the NVC and the US embassy or consulate where the beneficiary will be interviewed.
Step 6: Attend a Visa Interview
Once the immigrant visa application has been processed, the beneficiary will be scheduled for a visa interview at the US embassy or consulate in their home country. During the interview, the beneficiary will be asked questions about their background, eligibility for the visa, and their plans once they arrive in the United States.
Step 7: Wait for a Decision
After the visa interview, the beneficiary must wait for a decision on their application. The processing time for visa decisions can vary depending on the workload of the embassy or consulate and the type of visa being applied for.
Step 8: Obtain a Visa
If the visa is approved, the beneficiary will be issued an immigrant visa. The visa will be placed in the beneficiary’s passport, which they will need to present when entering the United States.
Step 9: Enter the United States
After obtaining the visa, the beneficiary can enter the United States. The visa is typically valid for six months from the date of issuance.
Step 10: Obtain a Green Card
Once the beneficiary has entered the United States, they must apply for a Green Card, which is proof of their permanent residency. The Green Card application must be filed with USCIS.
Step 11: Attend a Biometrics Appointment
After the Green Card application has been filed, the beneficiary must attend a biometrics appointment. During the appointment, the beneficiary’s fingerprints and photographs will be taken.
Step 12: Wait for a Decision
After the biometrics appointment, the beneficiary must wait for a decision on their Green Card application. Processing times can vary but typically take several months. If the application is approved, the beneficiary will receive their Green Card in the mail.
Processing Times and Fees
Throughout the US immigration processing time, there are several fees to be aware of. Immigration processing times can vary depending on the workload of the various government agencies involved in the immigration process. It is important to check the most up-to-date processing times to have a realistic expectation of when each step will be completed.
Additionally, there are several fees associated with the US immigration process. Fees can include the filing fee for a petition, the immigrant visa application processing fee, and the Green Card application fee. It is important to budget for these fees and ensure that they are paid promptly manner to avoid delays in the immigration process.
Affidavit of Support
An Affidavit of Support is a legal document that is required for certain types of US immigration applications. The purpose of the affidavit is to provide evidence that the immigrant will not become a public charge, meaning they will not require government assistance to support themselves in the United States.
The affidavit is a binding agreement between the petitioner (sponsor) and the US government that the sponsor will financially support the immigrant beneficiary. The sponsor must meet certain income requirements, which vary depending on the size of the sponsor’s household and the location of their residence.
The Affidavit of Support is typically required for family-based immigration applications, such as marriage-based visas, and employment-based visas that require a job offer. In some cases, even refugees and asylums are required to have an Affidavit of Support from a sponsor.
The sponsor must provide their most recent tax return and other financial documents, such as bank statements, to demonstrate that they meet the income requirements. If the sponsor’s income is not sufficient, they may be able to use assets, such as property or stocks, to meet the income requirement.
The Affidavit of Support is a legally binding document, and the sponsor’s financial obligation continues until the immigrant beneficiary becomes a US citizen, can be credited with 40 quarters of work (about 10 years), permanently leaves the US, or dies.
Family-Based Immigration Processing Times
Family-based visa immigration processing times can take longer than other types of immigration, as there are often more eligibility requirements and processing times can be longer. The immigrant visa processing time for family-based immigration can take several months, and in some cases, up to several years. It is important to be patient and stay informed throughout the process.
Legal Immigration Process
It is important to note that the US immigration process is a legal process, and it is important to follow all laws and regulations. Attempting to bypass or circumvent the legal immigration process can result in serious consequences, including being barred from entering the United States.
Several common forms are required for various stages of the US immigration process. Here are a few examples:
Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative
Form I-130 is used to petition for a family member to immigrate to the United States. The form is typically used for spouses, parents, and unmarried children under the age of 21. The form is filed by a US citizen or lawful permanent resident (LPR) who is sponsoring the family member.
Form I-485: Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
Form I-485 is used to apply for a Green Card while the beneficiary is already in the United States. The form is typically filed by someone who is already in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa, such as a student or temporary worker who wants to become a permanent resident.
Form I-765: Application for Employment Authorization
Form I-765 is used to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD), which allows the beneficiary to work in the United States while their immigration application is pending. The form is typically filed with the I-485 or I-539 (Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status) application.
Form I-864: Affidavit of Support
Form I-864 is used to provide evidence that the sponsor has the financial means to support the immigrant beneficiary. The form is typically filed with family-based immigration applications, such as marriage-based visas, and employment-based visas that require a job offer.
Form N-400: Application for Naturalization
Form N-400 is used to apply for US citizenship. The form is typically filed by someone who has been a lawful permanent resident for at least 5 years (or 3 years if married to a US citizen) and meets other eligibility requirements.
How Long Does the Immigration Process Take?
The US immigration visa processing time can vary greatly depending on several factors, such as the type of visa or status being sought, the applicant’s country of origin, and the backlog of applications at the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) or the US Department of State.
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The US immigration process is a complex and multi-step process that can take several months to several years to complete. It is important to be patient and stay informed throughout the process. Understanding the 12 steps in the immigration process, processing times, and fees can help make the process less daunting. Additionally, it is important to follow all laws and regulations throughout the immigration process to ensure a successful outcome.