The Immigrant Visa Application Process

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to the process of applying for a U.S. visa. Many assume that it is fast, easy, and done within a reasonable amount of time. However, like many bureaucratic procedures, the application process is strenuous and expensive. From background checks to application fees, the road to legal immigration is a long and complex one. Let’s take a look at what the typical work visa application process entails.

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Step 1: Employer-Assisted Petitioning

In order to apply for a permanent residence work visa, the applicant must be sponsored by a potential employer who files an I-140 Petition for Alien Worker with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Only certain fields of work are accepted for a petition, and, of those, some are given preference over others.

In order of preference, the following fields are allowed to file:

  1. Priority Workers, including “persons of extraordinary ability,” “outstanding professors and researchers,” and “multinational managers or executives.”

  2. Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability, including “professional holding an advanced degree” and “persons with exceptional abilities in the sciences, arts, or business.”

  3. Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers

  4. Certain Special Immigrants, such as ministers, broadcasters, Iraqi and Afghan interpreters/translators, those recruited for the U.S. Armed Forces, amongst others.

  5. Immigrant Investors

Only once the petition is approved can the visa application process begin.

Step 2: Post-Approval Requirements and Processing

Once approved, the petition will be sent to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC) for pre-processing. This initiates the process of collecting fees, forms, and documents from both the sponsor and the applicant.

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Even if an applicant has reached this step, it is not guaranteed that they will be eligible immediately. Limits for employment visas and applicants from certain countries can bring the process to a halt. At this point, you must wait for notification from the NVC that your case will become current in the next year to begin taking the next steps.

Once a potential visa holder receives notification, they are able to choose an immigration agent. In some cases, immigrants choose to act as their own agent, or choose their employer to act as an agent. This person will be a liaison between the NVC and the potential immigrant. Once the agent is chosen, it will take up to 3 weeks to move to the next stage: paying processing fees.

There are two fees that apply when seeking out an employment visa:

  • Immigrant Visa Application Processing Fee ($345.00)

  • Affidavit of Support Fee ($120.00)

These fees must be paid from a U.S. bank, which typically means that the onus of responsibility is on the potential employer to actually pay. Additionally, if the application is rejected, none of the fees are refunded.

Once fees are submitted, an additional week is needed for payments to process.

Step 3: Form and Document Collection and Submission to NVC

Only at this point are immigration applicants able to formally submit their visa application form, or Form DS-260. This application is over 50 pages long, requiring information about, but not limited to:

  • Previous work history

  • Family history

  • Marriage history

  • Address history

  • Prior U.S. travel

  • Petitioner information

  • Medical and health background

  • Criminal information

  • Security information

  • Immigration law violations

Additionally, potential employers acting as petitioners are required to submit financial documentation showing that they are able to support the immigrant once they arrive in the United States, along with an Affidavit of Support Form affirming that the petitioner intends to support the filer. In some cases, this form is not necessary.

Supporting documents must also be provided, further proving the potential immigrant’s background. These documents include a birth certificate, court and prison records, marriage and marriage termination documents, military records, petitioner documents, a passport biographic data page, and police certificates.

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This step is particularly challenging, especially for those who lack the local resources to obtain the particular requirements necessary for submitting documentation.

For example, those living in war-torn countries or fleeing their home may have lost critical paperwork due to disaster, confiscation, or destruction of local bureaucratic buildings.

Additionally, all of the documents must be translated into English, a service that is potentially expensive in the immigrant’s current country of residence.

Once all of these documents are gathered, photocopies and originals must be prepared. Photocopies are sent in a package to the NVC, and originals are to be brought to the applicant interview at a later date. Documents can be uploaded to an online portal, emailed to the NVC, or mailed to the the United States. The NVC chooses the method.

It takes an additional three weeks for all documentation to be reviewed and for the interview to be scheduled.

Step 4: In-Person Interview

The NVC will send all relevant parties information regarding the interview dates and times. In most cases, these interviews take place at a U.S. Embassies and Consulates building. When the applicant recieves interview information, they must:

  1. Complete a medical examination, including required vaccinations, before the interview.

  2. Register for a courier service to return their original documents to the applicant following processing.

  3. Gather all original civil documents, including financial documents from their petitioner, to bring into the interview.

Failure to bring any document to the interview can result in immediate denial of the case, meaning that all the time, money, and resources spent on preparing the application are wasted.

At the interview, a consular officer interviews applicants. At that time, the appointment letter, passport, photographs of the applicant, medical exam results, and all original civil documents must be submitted.

At the end of the interview, the consular officer hands down the final decision. If approved, the applicant may then legally travel to and work in the United States, once an additional USCIS Immigrant Fee of $220 is paid.

Repaving the Road of Legal Immigration

The IDEAL Policy creates vast economic and social benefits, building safer communities, boosting the U.S. GDP by $500+ billion yearly and solving the looming Social Security crisis.

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Projected economic benefits include:

  • An infusion of over billions of dollars in revenue to the U.S. Treasury each year.

  • A massive boost to U.S. GDP.

  • A huge step forward to increased solvency of the U.S. Social Security system.

  • An increase in jobs and wages for Americans of all income and education levels.

  • Advantages to U.S. tech firms, enabling them to recruit top global talent.

  • Strengthening of U.S. economic and political ties with other countries.

  • Billions in remittances to home nations by U.S. immigrants, decreasing world poverty.

  • A drastic increase to the U.S. stock market.

  • An increase in U.S. real-estate prices.

Projected social benefits include:

  • Enhanced border security resulting in safer communities.

  • Increased immigration enforcement efforts focused on criminal aliens involved in violent crime, narcotics, etc. rather than aliens working honestly in the U.S.

  • Rebuilding of infrastructure including roads, hospitals, schools, municipal water, police, and fire stations.

The IDEAL policy is the right way forward. It benefits Americans by drawing upon international talent seeking to help this country continue its successful advancement. With the IDEAL policy, immigration becomes  an instrument of immense potential for U.S. competitiveness on the global stage.