Receiving the long-awaited approval of a petition for a non-immigrant or immigrant visa is not the end of the immigration process. Rather, it is the start of the follow-up process of applying for the visa - before foreign national applicants can actually travel to the United States, they need to get their visa. In fact, the consular officer who reviews the visa application at the United States Embassy has the discretion to deny the visa, despite the fact it has already been approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
The procedure for applying for the visa is different for non-immigrant visas than for immigrant visas.
Applying for a non-immigrant visa
A non-immigrant visa allows the visa holder to travel to the United States for a temporary period and for a specific purpose. For example, a B1/B2 visa is for tourist and business trips. The H-1B, L-1A/L-1B, and E-1/E-2 visas allow for temporary employment in the United States. Each visa category has its own requirements, but the visa application procedures are mostly the same, including:
- Completing the DS-160, Online Nonimmigrant Visa Application form
- Paying the visa application processing fee
- Scheduling and appearing for an appointment for a visa interviewat a United States embassy or consulate abroad, usually in the applicant's home country
Applying for an immigrant visa – "green card"
The process for applying for an immigrant visa or a "green card" is different, depending on whether or not you are already residing in the United States.
If you are already living in the United States when your petition is approved, the process begins with completing Form I-485 together with the accompanying supporting original documentation. There is a filing fee of $985 and an additional biometrics fee for most applicants.
If you are applying for the visa from abroad, the process involves completing Form DS-230 with the accompanying supporting original documentation. These are then sent to the National Visa Center to verify that all the documentation is in order and schedule the visa interview at the nearest embassy or consulate in your home country. The wait time to receive an interview appointment depends on the U.S Embassy or Consulate.. There is a visa application processing fee, and, as of February 1, 2013, a new USCIS Immigrant Fee of $165.
The immigrant officer conducting the visa interview will decide whether to approve or deny the visa application. Some visa applications are held for further administrative processing if there is an unresolved issue or if it is determined that a background check is required. Most administrative processing issues are resolved within about two months, but it could take longer.
A waiver maybe available for those cases where a petition has been approved but the applicant is not eligible to file form I-485 or enter the U.S.
Our knowledgeable team of Pinellas County immigration attorneys can help you each step of the way in applying for a visa to the United States.
Experienced immigration lawyers in Palm Harbor and Clearwater can help
The Law Offices of K. Dean Kantaras, P.A. are experienced attorneys in all aspects of immigration law. We can help you with the entire process of applying for both immigrant and non immigrant visas. We also help businesses with I-9 compliance, individuals facing deportation and many other immigration related issues.Contact The Law Offices of K. Dean Kantaras, P.A. to schedule a free consultation about your specific situation.