Santa Barbara Immigration Lawyers
The first step to living permanently in the United States is to obtain
an immigrant visa. While most immigrant visas are family or employment-based,
visas may be issued in cases of international adoption, marriage, or for
other special circumstances as well. To file a petition for a visa, you
must have a sponsor who is a citizen or a lawful resident of the U.S.
Applying for a Family Visa
If you are applying for a family visa, it is important to know the difference
between having a citizen or a lawful resident as your sponsor. A citizen
is able to sponsor a spouse, son or daughter, parent, or sibling, while
a lawful resident can only sponsor a spouse or unmarried son or daughter.
A family-based immigration visa will begin with your sponsor filing an
I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration
Obtaining a Visa through Your Employer
If you are obtaining your visa through your employer, your sponsoring employer
must file an I-140 Petition for Alien Worker with the USCIS. If you have
a specialized skill or are an immigrant investor, you may be able to sponsor
yourself and file your own petition.
United States law limits the number of visas issued per year in certain
categories. If your petition is filed after this quota has been reached,
you will be placed on a waiting list. The date your petition was filed
is known as your priority date, and determines your place in the queue.
The Process of Filing for an Immigrant Visa
There are quite a few steps involved in successfully receiving an
Your Sponsor Must File the Correct Petition: The process begins with your sponsor filing the correct petition for
your situation with the USCIS. Once your petition is received and approved,
you will be able to check your priority date.
Begin Processing & Choose an Agent: Your next step will be to begin National Visa Center (NVC) processing
and choose an agent to handle your case.
Pay Your Fees: You will pay your processing fees, which are the Immigrant Visa Application
Processing Fee and the Affidavit of Support Fee.
Submit Correct Documents & Forms: After your fees have been paid, you will collect, complete, and submit
the appropriate forms and documents for your visa. These documents include
your visa application form, financial documents, and supporting documents.
Once you have completed the forms and collected the necessary documents,
you will submit them to the NVC.
Undergo a Medical Examination: Before your interview, you and any family beneficiaries (i.e. your spouse
or unmarried children) will undergo a medical examination and receive
the necessary vaccinations from an embassy-approved doctor. Your results
will either be sent directly to the embassy or given to you in a sealed
envelope, which must be presented to the embassy with the rest of your
Register for Courier Services: You will also need to register for courier services, for the return of
your passport and the delivery of your visa after the interview.
Interview with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate: Next comes your interview with the U.S. Embassy or Consulate. A consular
officer will interview you and any accompanying family member beneficiaries.
You will also be digitally fingerprinted at this time. If your spouse
or unmarried children are immigrating with you, they must also attend
You will need to bring the following to this interview:
Appointment letter: The letter detailing your appointment from the NVC.
Passport: You must bring a passport for each family member immigrating. The passports
must be valid for 6 months beyond the date of entry to the U.S.
Photographs: 2 identical color photographs of each applicant, which need to meet the
Medical exam results: If they were given to you, and not sent straight to the embassy by the
Original and supporting documents: Bring originals and photocopies of each document required of you and your
family members. The originals will be returned at the end of your interview.
English translations: If any documents required translation, you must bring the translated copies.
Visa fees: If there are unpaid fees, you will need to bring them to the interview.
Most fees should already have been paid to the NVC.
Visa Approval or Denial
After your interview, you will receive word if your visa has been approved
or denied. If you are approved, you will receive information about when
and how your passport and visa will be returned to you. If you have been
denied, you will be informed of the reason you are ineligible for a visa.
Getting Help for Your Visa Application
Our firm is well-versed in complex immigration issues, and has over 30
years of combined experience. We can help you with the process of applying
for a visa, including completing forms, inter-country adoptions, intra-company
employee transfers, and more. We are ready to tackle your case and provide
you with dedicated, high-quality legal assistance.
Contact our team of Santa Barbara immigration attorneys today for a free case evaluation.