A: You can call the Visa Services Telephone Inquiries Branch. The number
is (202) 663-1225. This contains recorded information for visa applicants.
After listening to one message, there is an option to speak to an officer
between 8:30 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. They can usually explain what aspects of
immigration law and regulation are applicable in certain cases. They can
also check if a case has been returned to the State Department for an advisory
A: Once an individual is in the United States, they come under Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS) jurisdiction. You can call the INS toll
free at 1-800-755-0777 or here in Washington at 202-307-1501 or 514-4330.
A: Visa Services does not exercise authority to change consular officers'
decision on visa applications, but they can assist in finding out the status
of an application. They can also suggest several different methods for
getting the information addresses for letters, telexes, faxes, and, in
emergency situations, cables. If you have some facts on an individual case,
they can frequently explain the legal grounds for refusal and any possible
avenues of relief, for example.
A: An immigrant visa is the visa issued to persons wishing to live permanently
in the United States. A nonimmigrant visa is the visa issued to persons
with permanent residence outside the U.S. but who wish to be in the U.S.
on a temporary basis, for example, tourism, medical treatment, business,
temporary work, or study.
A: To become a legal permanent resident, an alien must first be admitted
as an immigrant. There are two basic methods for obtaining an immigrant
visa: 1) through family relationship with a U.S. citizen or legal permanent
resident, or 2) through employment. Specific information is available from
the Immigration and Naturalization Service in the U.S. by calling 202-514-4330.
A: An immediate relative petition can be filed by a U.S. citizen on behalf
of a spouse, parent, or child. A preference petition is filed by a U.S.
citizen on behalf of a son or daughter, by a legal permanent resident on
behalf of a spouse, son or daughter, or child, or by an employer on behalf
of an employee.
A: An alien must be sponsored by a relative or employer who files the
appropriate petition with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).
INS approves the petition, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center
in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The National Visa Center then informs the
beneficiary that an approved petition has been received and provides instructions
on next steps. As soon as a visa number is available on a preference petition
or as soon as INS approves an immediate relative petition, the National
Visa Center sends the beneficiary a packet which includes, among other
things: OF-l69 (the cover letter listing the documentation necessary for
the immigrant visa interview), OF-l79 (Biographic Data for Visa Purposes),
and OF-l67 (Evidence Which May Be Presented to Overcome the Public Charge
Provisions of the Law). The packets are available only from the National
Visa Center or posts that process immigrant visas.
A: Requirements may differ slightly from post to post, but the basic requirements
include: a passport, three photographs, birth and police certificates,
marriage, divorce, or death certificates, proof of financial support, and
medical examination. More detailed information would have to come from
the National Visa Center or the processing post.
A: Persons from countries that do not have an American embassy or consulate
are considered "homeless" because they cannot return to their
home country to be interviewed for the immigrant visa. When the National
Visa Center receives an immigrant visa approved petition on a "homeless" case,
it assigns the case to an embassy or consulate that has been determined
is capable of handling the additional workload. The petitioner or beneficiary
will be informed by the National Visa Center of the post that was chosen.
A: Several factors influence how long the process may take. Immediate
relative visas are not numerically limited by statute so, workload permitting,
the post may begin processing the approved petition upon receipt. Preference
visas are numerically limited; therefore, the post must wait until the
priority date on the petition is available before starting to process the
case. The major reason for lengthy waits, i.e. priority dates that are
months or several years earlier than your inquiry, is the fact that each
year many more people apply for immigrant visas than can be satisfied under
the annual numerical limit set by law for preference cases. Certain categories,
such as the family fourth preference, are heavily oversubscribed.
A: The priority date, in the case of a relative immigrant visa petition,
is the date the petition was filed. In the case of an employer-sponsored
petition, the priority date is the date the labor certification was filed
with the Department of Labor. The Visa Bulletin is a monthly publication
which gives the changes in availability of priority dates. (See question
below for more information.) Visa Services also has a twenty-four hour
recording which gives the monthly priority dates. Dial (202) 663-1541.
A: The Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs offers the monthly Visa
Bulletin on the Internet's World Wide Web. The Internet Web address
to access the Bulletin is:
From the home page, select the Visa section which contains the Visa
In addition to the Internet, the Visa Bulletin can be accessed
and downloaded from the Consular Affairs electronic bulletin board. Those
with a computer and modem should dial (301) 946-4400. The login is travel and
the password is info.
Individuals may also obtain the Visa Bulletin by fax. From a fax
phone, dial (202) 647-3000. Follow the prompts and enter in the code 1038
to have the Visa Bulletin faxed to you.
(The Department of State also has available a recorded message with visa
cut-off dates which can be heard at: (202) 663-1541. The recording is updated
in the middle of each month with information on cut-off dates for the following
To be placed on the Department of State's Visa Bulletin mailing
list or to change an address, please write to:
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20522-0106
Only addresses within the U.S. postal system may be placed on the mailing
list. Please include a recent mailing label when reporting changes or corrections
of address; the Postal Service does NOT automatically notify the Visa Office
of address changes. (Obtaining the Visa Bulletin by mail is a much
slower option than any of the alternatives mentioned above.)
The Visa Bulletin can also be contacted by E-mail at the following
(The Visa Bulletin is not distributed by E-mail, however.)
A: The cost of an immigrant visa is $260 (U.S.) for application and $65
(U.S.) for issuance per person, regardless of age. There may also be fees
to obtain required documents, for certifying or notarizing documents, and
for the medical examination. The cost of the immigrant visa itself remains
constant, but other fees vary from post to post. The applicant will be
informed of fees by the processing post. The fees are payable in U.S. and
equivalent local currency. Cash is acceptable at all posts; other methods
of payment must be determined by the processing post.
A: The consul may issue an immigrant visa with a maximum validity of six
months. If an applicant must delay travel to the U.S. beyond six months,
he/she should contact the U.S. consulate and arrange to have the interview
scheduled closer to his/her possible departure. If an immigrant visa has
already been issued and circumstances force the alien to remain abroad
longer, the applicant should contact the U.S. consulate and request an
extension of the immigrant visa's validity. If the validity of an immigrant
visa expires, a new one may be issued upon payment of the statutory application
and issuance fees (U.S. $260).
A: A child born abroad of legal permanent resident parents may enter the
U.S. without a visa provided the child is accompanied by a parent upon
that parent's initial return to the U.S. within two years of the child's
birth with documentation showing the parent-child relationship.
Q: Can a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident file apetition at any foreign service post for the immigration
of a relative?
A: Authority to accept a petition rests solely
with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). INS has determined
that petitions must be filed in the petitioner's place of residence.
Therefore, if the petitioner resides in the U S., the petitioner must
file at his/ her local INS office; if the petitioner resides abroad,
the petitioner must file at the U.S. embassy or consulate that has
A: A guest of a U.S. host can be helped by sending him/her a letter of
invitation. The letter should include the invitee's name, reason for visit,
period of stay in the U.S., and method of payment of expenses. If the guest
is paying his/her own expenses, he/she must be prepared to show the consular
officer that sufficient funds are available for the trip. If the American
host is paying the expenses, an affidavit of support may be included.
A: An applicant must have a passport, valid for six months beyond duration
of the proposed visit, one passport-size photograph, and proof of social,
family, economic, professional or other compelling ties to a residence
outside the United States to which he/she will be expected to return after
the visit. It is helpful for an applicant to have a letter of invitation
and support, if he/she is visiting someone in the U.S.
A: The requirements are generally the same as for a visitor visa. However,
in addition to the passport, photo, and proof of ties abroad, the applicant
must also have an I-20 form issued by the school he/she wishes to attend.
The I-20 form is proof that the applicant has been accepted for a program
of study at an accredited institution.
A: In certain circumstances, yes. VO does reissue A, E, G, H, L, and I
visas, so long as there is the same type visa stamp already in the passport,
and the date of expiration is not more than one year earlier. Journalists
needing to renew their I visas may call 202-663-1213 between 2:00 P.M.
and 4:00 P.M. eastern time daily.
A: The U.S. citizen must file a fiance(e) petition, Form I-129F, with
the local Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). The INS will forward
the approved petition to a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. The post will
then contact the alien with information and eventually schedule an interview
for a fiance(e) visa. The alien has 90 days from entry into the U.S. in
which to marry the U.S. citizen.
A: No. After the marriage takes place, the U.S. citizen must contact Immigration
and Naturalization Service to change the alien spouse's status to legal
permanent resident. This information is given to the alien fiance(e) upon
his/her entry to the U.S.
A: An applicant is always told the reason for denial, orally or in writing.
If an applicant does not understand the reason for denial, or wishes to
offer further evidence to overcome the denial, he/she should contact the
post where the application was made to determine that post's reapplication
A: You should know that all denials are reviewed by a senior consular
officer. There is no "appeal" process per se on visa denials,
but an applicant can reapply for a Nonimmigrant visa if he/she can present
new evidence to overcome the previous grounds for refusal. Some high-volume
posts require that a significant period of time (six months to one year)
elapse before reapplication with new qualifying evidence. By law, the U.S.
consul must be persuaded that the applicant has a permanent residence abroad
to which he or she intends to return after a temporary stay in the U.S;
otherwise, the consul must presume that the applicant is planning to remain
here permanently. Since a nonimmigrant visa is not intended for someone
who plans to stay permanently, the consular officer must refuse the visa.
A: This is generally done by showing evidence of family, social, employment,
financial and other ties to the home country that will compel a return
from the U.S. Having a permanent residence abroad is a requirement for
tourist, business, student, exchange visitor and some temporary worker
A: Unfortunately, there is little a U.S. sponsor can do to help an applicant
qualify. The amount of money the U. S. sponsor has is not relevant; there
is no way the U.S. sponsor can guarantee that the applicant will leave
the U.S. at the end of his or her stay. It is up to the applicant to show
that he or she meets the requirements.
A: If the form begins with the letter "I," it is an Immigration
and Naturalization Service (INS) form and you will need to call them. The
number to call to get forms from the INS is 1-800-870-FORM or 1-800-3676.
If you are looking for a form OF-156 (Nonimmigrant Visa Application), the
visa applicant should get it at a U.S. embassy or consulate overseas. If
you have questions about a Packet 3 or Packet 4, you need to call the National
Visa Center at 603-334-0700.
A: The mail-in period for the 1999 Diversity Visa Lottery is over. Winners
will be notified by the National Visa Center. Those who are not notified
can assume they were not selected and can re-enter next year.
A: From the embassy or consulate of the country you are planning to visit.
The booklet, Foreign Entry Requirements has information on visa/entry
requirements, embassy and consulate addresses, and telephone numbers for
all foreign missions in the United States. (See the FAQ entitled "Other
Subjects" for information on how to obtain a copy of Foreign Entry
Source: The Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs.