Immigrant Visa Application Process
To apply for an immigrant visa, follow the steps below.
Use the accordion below and follow (in order) the steps that will guide you through the immigrant visa application process.
This information does not apply for category “K” Fiancé(e) Visa applications.
Remember: You must tell the truth during the entire visa application and interview process, and provide full and accurate information. Otherwise, your visa processing will take longer or it may be determined that you are ineligible for a visa.
Step by Step Process
Step 1 – File a Petition with USCIS
U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents who wish to file a petition on behalf of a family member that wants to immigrate to the United States must file Form I-130 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Step 2 – Case Preparation by the National Visa Center
Once the petition is approved by USCIS, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC).
Petitions may stay at the NVC for several months or years, depending on the visa category applied for. The NVC will contact the petitioner or beneficiary regarding the submission of all civil documents, police records, financial support affidavit, and other key documents for the case. They will not schedule your interview until they have received all requested documents.
It is very important to keep the petitioner’s and beneficiary’s contact information up-to-date at the NVC. You may contact them using this form.
For more information on how the NVC prepares immigrant visa application cases, click here.
Step 3 – Visa Interview Scheduling by the National Visa Center (NVC)
Once the National Visa Center has received all necessary documents to complete its part in the immigrant visa application process, it will send the petitioner or beneficiary a letter indicating the date and time of the interview. This letter will also include instructions for the steps to follow before the interview.
Once the interview is completed, the NVC will send all case documents to our Consular Section in the U.S. Embassy in Montevideo.
If you are unable to come to the interview at our Consular Section on the scheduled date, please contact us at MontevideoIV@state.gov, and we will send instructions for how to reschedule the interview. Rescheduling an interview may significantly delay your visa application process.
Step 4 – Medical Exam
All immigrant visa applicants must undergo a general medical exam at least two weeks before the scheduled interview date.
Please do not complete the medical examination before it is requested by the National Visa Center (NVC) or the Embassy’s Consular Section.
In Montevideo, the doctors approved by the Embassy bring the test results in person to the Embassy before each applicant’s scheduled interview date. If by any chance the doctors give you the test, please DO NOT OPEN the sealed envelope. If you do, you must reschedule an appointment with the doctor and pay again the test fees.
Click here for details about the medical examination.
Step 5 – The day of the interview
We ask you to arrive at the time indicated for your interview. Please remember to bring the requested documents.
Only the following people may accompany the visa applicant during the interview:
- The petitioner
- Visitors with special needs: Visa applicants may be accompanied in the case of elderly or disabled people, or minors.
If you have a special condition that requires a wheelchair or additional accommodation, please tell the staff members who welcome you at the entrance or the Embassy security guards when you are entering the building.
Every person entering the Embassy will need to undergo a security check similar to the one done at airports. The Embassy has limited space to store personal items. Access to the facilities will be denied to all people who refuse to follow security check procedures.
Step 6 – Visa Approval
If your visa is approved, you can pick up your passport approximately 10 days after your interview at the DHL office selected when you registered your interview in our system.
In addition, at the end of your interview, you will receive information on how to pay the USCIS immigrant fee for your resident card to be processed. You will need to pay this fee before travelling to the United States with your immigrant visa.
If you are deemed ineligible for a visa, a letter will be issued indicating the reasons why you are ineligible. If a waiver is available to overcome your ineligibility, you will receive instructions on how to apply for it. Not all ineligibilities have a waiver available.
The officer may request additional documents in order to approve your visa. In these cases, the officer will give you a letter at the end of the interview indicating which documents are required and how/when to send them to the Embassy.
If your medical exam is not complete by the day of the interview, the consular officer will put your case on hold until the results are received.
Step 7 – After you receive your visa
At the end of your interview we will indicate how, where, and when you can pick up your visa and document packet. Your visa will be attached to your passport. Please check carefully the information in your visa and the cover page of your packet, which will be closed and sealed. If you find any mistakes, please contact us at MontevideoIV@state.gov.
DO NOT OPEN the sealed document packet. You must give this packet unopened to an immigration official at the point of entry to the United States.
Before you travel to the United States, you must pay the USCIS immigrant fee for your resident card to be processed. For more information about this, visit the USCIS website.
Please check the expiration date of your immigrant visa. You must enter the United States within the timeframe indicated in your visa. At the point of entry to the United States, a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) official will stamp your passport and make a note certifying that you are registered to obtain a lawful permanent resident (LPR) card or “green card” (Form I-151 or I-551). At the point of entry you will have the opportunity to confirm the address where you wish to receive your LPR card.
USCIS may take several months to process and send your LPR card to your U.S. address. While you don’t receive your resident card, you can travel to and from the United States using the immigrant visa and the CBP stamp. You can travel with these documents, instead of your original resident card, for up to a year from the date of your first entry to the United States.