A few steps left before you get your green card
You have finished your immigrant visa interview, and you are nearing the finish line. But there are still a few important steps to get your immigrant visa, and ultimately, your green card. Here is what to expect at the end of this long road.
If you have not yet had your immigrant visa interview yet, make sure to read up on how to prepare for your visa interview. There are several important steps, like registering online and getting your medical examination.
What happens at the end of my immigrant visa interview?
Right after your immigrant visa interview, one of three things could happen:
- Approval: An officer approves your application. The consulate will then give you instructions when and how you will get your passport. While the consulate has your passport, it will place a visa inside that allows you to enter the U.S.
- Denial: An officer denies your case. The officer then provides you with a piece of paper (often blue) with the reasons for the denial.
- No Decision: The officer informs you that the consulate cannot decide at that time. The officer will give you a piece of paper or document with instructions how to check the status of your case while it is pending.
Will I get my passport back after my immigrant visa interview?
No, your passport will stay with the officer who interviewed you, even if the consulate officer approved your case. This is to complete the processing of your case and put the actual visa on one of the pages inside your passport.
How long after the visa interview will I get my passport?
If the consulate officer approves your immigrant visa application, it takes 7 to 10 days to get back your passport.
You can receive your passport in one of two ways. Either you will receive instructions on when and where to pick up your passport, or you will receive it by mail. The exact method will depend on which country you are applying from.
Note: After the visa interview, the consular officer will often hold on to your passport and documents to finish processing your application.
How do I check the expiration date on my immigrant visa?
Locate the page in your passport where immigration officer affixed the visa. On the left side of the page, towards the bottom, find where it says “IV Expires On.” Under that is the date of expiration. Normally an immigrant visa expires 6 months from the date of issue. You must enter the U.S. before this date.
How do I check my visa type?
Find the page of your passport where US officials stamped your immigrant visa. You will know it is the correct page because the word “Visa” will appear on the top left corner of the page. Look at the top right corner of the page and above the words “Case Number” will appear the words “Immigrant Visa.” If those words appear then you have an immigrant visa, which allows you to come to the U.S. and live permanently.
By when do I have to enter the U.S.?
The consulate usually gives you 6 months within which to enter the United States. But to be certain, you will need to check the expiration date on your visa. It is never too early to enter the U.S. on your immigrant visa. But if you try enter too late (i.e. after expiration), you will not be allowed in.
How do I know if my immigrant visa is still valid?
Your visa will be in your passport. On the page of your passport where immigration has put the visa, there is an “issue date” and “expiration date.” The time between the dates will be 6 months. In other words, you will be able to use the visa to enter the U.S. for six months from the date of the approval.
After entering on an immigrant visa, how long until I get my green card?
When you receive your passport and immigrant visa, you should also have receive an Immigrant Visa Packet, with instructions. Then you will be ready to enter the U.S. at a bridge port of entry or airport port of entry.
Once you arrive in the U.S., there is one more step. You must order your actual green card or lawful permanent resident card.
Before applying for it, you will need to locate two numbers:
- Your alien number, and
- Your DOS Case ID
The “Alien Number” or “A-Number” begins with the letter “A” and is followed by nine numbers (Ex. A200 123 456). The “DOS Case ID” is the case number that you used to submit and complete your case at the consulate. The ID number is three letters followed by 9 or 10 numbers (Ex. CDJ201912456). Learn how to locate your alien number here.
Once you have found those two numbers you must pay the USCIS immigrant Fee, which is the fee to get your actual card. You can follow these steps:
- To begin, go to here.
- Enter the A-Number and the DOS Case ID in the places where it asks you to enter them.
- Then you can pay the fee with a credit card or bank account. The card will be mailed to the mailing address you provided to immigration when you filed for your consulate appointment.
- If you are going to change addresses, you need to go to here or call 1-800-375-5283 for help. If you do not receive your card in the mail you should call 1-800-375-5283 for help.