Immigrant U.S. Visa

1.      What are immigrant visas?

Immigrant visas are for persons who plan to live permanently in the United States. The immigrant visa permits an application for admission to the United States as a Legal Permanent Resident and is a potential step toward acquiring U.S. citizenship. Most immigrant visa applications begin when a qualified family member who is a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident submits a petition on behalf of the intending immigrant to the U.S. Citizenship Immigration Service (USCIS) in the United States or at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate abroad. It is also possible for a U.S. employer to file a petition for a foreign national whom the employer wishes to hire for an eligible permanent position.

 

2.      What are the various kinds of U.S. visas available?

There are many purposes for immigrating to the U.S. and each one has a corresponding visa category, such as:

 

Immediate Relative & Family Sponsored

Visa Category

Spouse of a U.S. Citizen

IR1, CR1

Spouse of a U.S. Citizen awaiting approval of an I-130 immigrant petition

K-3*

Fiancé(e) to marry U.S. Citizen and live in U.S.

K-1*

Intercountry Adoption of Orphan Children by U.S. Citizens

IR2, IH3, IR4, IH4

Certain Family Member of U.S. Citizens

IR2, CR2, IR5, F1, F3, F4

Certain Family Members of Lawful Permanent Residents

F2A, F2B

Employer Sponsored - Employment

 

Employment – Based Immigrants, including (preference group):

 

     1.  Priority Workers

E1

     2.  Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of    
          Exceptional Ability

E2

     3.  Professionals and Other Workers

E3, EW3

     4.  Employment Creation/Investors

C5, T5, R5, I5

     5.  Certain Special Immigrants

S

Religious Workers

SD, SR

Other Immigrants

 

Diversity Immigrant Visa

DV

Returning Resident

SB

 

*K Visas – Listed with Immigrant visas because they are for immigration related purposes.


3.      Who may apply for a U.S. immigrant visa?

The spouse, parent, step-parent, child and step-child under the age of 21, of a U.S. citizen and the spouse of a deceased U.S. citizen are eligible to apply for a U.S. visa. Likewise, the unmarried son/daughter (aged 21 or over) of a U.S. citizen, married son/daughter of a U.S. citizen, brother/sister of a U.S. citizen, spouse and unmarried son or daughter of a Lawful Permanent Resident are also eligible.

 

A person who wishes to immigrate to the United States must have a petition approved by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before applying for an immigrant visa. The petition is filed by a relative or a potential employer at a USCIS office in the United States. An individual with an approved petition and a priority date that is current for processing is eligible to apply for an immigrant visa or K non-immigrant visa.

 

4.      Can a visa applicant file a petition on his own behalf?

No. The petition must be filed by a relative or a potential employer at the USCIS office and not by the person who wishes to immigrate to the U.S.

 

5.      What are the kinds of Family – Based Immigrant visa?

The beneficiary of an approved Family – Based immigrant visa petition, as based on their circumstances, may apply for either:

  1. Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas; or
  2. Family Preference Immigrant Visas.

 

6.      What are the circumstances to be qualified under Immediate Relative Immigrant Visa?

The following are the circumstances to qualify under Immediate Relative Immigrant Visa:

  1. The spouse of a U.S. citizen;
  2. An unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen;
  3. An orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen;
  4. An orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen; and
  5. The parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old.

 

7.      What are the circumstances to be qualified under Family Preference Immigrant Visa?

The following are the circumstances to qualify under Family Preference Immigrant Visa:

  1. The unmarried son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and their minor children;
  2. The spouse, minor child and unmarried son or daughter, aged 21 and over, of a Lawful Permanent Resident;
  3. The married son or daughter of a U.S. citizen and their spouse and minor children;
  4. The brother or sister of a U.S. citizen and their spouse and minor children provided that the U.S. citizen is at least 21 years of age.

8.      Are there any significant differences between Immediate Relative Immigrant Visa and Family Preference Immigrant Visa?

Immediate Relative Immigrant Visa refers to the immediate family members of the U.S. citizens while the Family Preference Immigrant Visa refers to the distant family relations of U.S. citizens and Lawful Permanent Residents.

 

The former has no quota while the latter is subject to a “fiscal year numerical limitations.”

 

9.      Is there a limit on visa issuance?

U.S. law limits visa issuance to relatives of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents or family sponsored immigrants to a total of 480,000 visas annually.

 

10.  What if the application was filed beyond the quota limit, would the applicant need to file again the following year?

No. Once the quota needs to be filled for the following year, the immigrant visas will be issued in chronological order on the basis of when the petition was filed.

 

11.  Are there any preferences as to which relatives would be prioritized first in their application of the U.S. visa?

While immediate relative (IR) visas are included within the limit of the visa issuance, there will always be visa numbers immediately available for qualified IR applicants to use. All other qualifying are assigned visa numbers from the family sponsored visa allocation that immediate relatives do not use.

  1. First Preference or F1: Adult but unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and qualified derivative family members.
  2. Second Preference or F2: Spouses and minor children (below 21) of lawful permanent residents apply for F2A visas while the adult, unmarried sons/daughters of lawful permanent residents apply for F2B visas.
  3. Third preference or F3: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their qualified derivative family members.
  4. Fourth preference or F4: Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens and their qualified derivative family members.

 

12.  What about employees, how would they be prioritized in their application of the U.S. visa?

The following are the preference groups covering the employment-based applications for U.S. visas:

  1. Priority Workers or E1: Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; and certain multinational executives and managers and their qualified derivative family members.
  2. Members of the Professions or E2: Professionals holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts and business and their derivative family members.
  3. Professionals, Skilled and Unskilled Workers or E3: Professionals holding baccalaureate degrees, skilled workers with at least two years’ experience, and other workers whose skills are in short supply in the United States and their qualified derivative family members.
  4. Special Immigrants or E4: Ministers of religion, certain international organization employees or former employees of the United States Government and their qualified derivative family member.
  5. Investors or E5: Persons who create employment for at least ten unrelated persons by investing capital in a new commercial enterprise in the United States and who meet the minimum capital requirements.

 

13.  Is there a need for the U.S. sponsor to stay in the United States during the duration of the application process of the applicant?

No. There is no need for the U.S. sponsor to remain in the United States during the duration of the application process of the applicant. They must merely maintain their domicile in the United States, meaning their principal home must be based in the United States.

 

14.  Where can one file a petition for an immigrant visa in the Philippines?

The U.S. Embassy in Manila has a USCIS office that accepts and adjudicates U.S. immigration benefits filed by residents of: The Philippines, New Guinea, Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Palau, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Samoa, Wallis, Futuna, New Caledonia, Pitcairn Island, Overseas French territories of French Polynesia, and most island nations in the Pacific region that are not covered by the other Field Offices in the Asia/Pacific District.

 

15.  How can one a petition for an immigrant visa, in case of an employer sponsor?

The prospective U.S. employer files Form I-140 and must obtain a certification from the U.S. Department of Labor that states that there are no qualified workers available in the United States for the proposed employment. A beneficiary of an approved I-140 petition must apply for the appropriate immigrant visa under the Employment – Based (E) category.

 

16.  How can one file a petition for an immigrant visa, in case of a family sponsor?

A relative of the visa applicant, who is a U.S. citizen or a lawful permanent resident, would file a Form I-130 petition at a USCIS office in the United States. In certain cases where the sponsoring U.S. citizen resides in the Philippines, the I-130 petition may be filed at the USCIS office at the Embassy in Manila. A beneficiary of an approved Form I-130 petition must apply for the appropriate immigrant visa under the Family-Sponsored (IR or F) categories.

 

A Filipino spouse or fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen may apply for a non-immigrant K visa with an approved I-129F petition.

 

17.  What is a K visa?

K visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows beneficiaries to join their petitioners sooner. Persons who enter the United States with K visa must apply at USCIS to change their status from a non-immigrant to a lawful permanent resident.

 

18.  What about other kinds of categories of visa, how can the applicant file a petition?

For the Special Immigrant visa category, with the exception of a qualified current or former U.S. Government employee, an applicant needs an approved I-360 petition from the USCIS. Special workers in a religious occupation or vocation, qualified U.S. government employees, Amerasians and widowers of U.S. citizens fall under this classification.

 

Investors must file a Form I-526 petition with the USCIS.

 

19.  What are the application fees per visa category?

 

IMMIGRANT PROCESSING FEES

Type of Visa

Fee

Fiancé(e) visas (K)

USD265.00

Immediate Relative and Family Preference Applications

USD325.00

Employment – Based Applications

USD345.00

Other Immigrant Visa Applications

USD205.00

Determining Returning Resident Status

USD180.00

Waiver of Two-Year Residency Requirement

USD120.00

Affidavit of Support Review

USD120.00

 

20.  What are the ways to pay the MRV fee?

There are three ways to pay the MRV fee. They are:

  1. Pay in cash (prevailing pesos equivalent of the MRV fee) at any branch of the Bank of the Philippine Islands (BPI);
  2. Pay through online bill payment option provided by BPI for their customers;
  3. Online payment through Bancnet.

 

21.  Is there an expiry period to set the date of interview after payment of the visa application fee?

Yes. The payment is valid only for one (1) year after the date of the actual payment. Thus, the applicant has to set their interview date within that time frame. Any further, the applicant has to pay the visa application fee again in order to be processed for interview.

 

22.  Would cancelation of the visa application entitle the applicant to a refund of his MRV application fee?

No. Visa application fees are non-refundable and non-transferable. There are no exceptions to this rule.

 

23.  What are the documents needed for the application of an immigration visa, for a family based petition?

The following are the necessary documents that an applicant must prepare for their interview:

  1. Passport which are valid for at least six months;
  2. Birth Certificate;
  3. Marriage Certificate, if applicable;
  4. Proof of termination of a prior marriage, if applicable;
  5. Evidence of Financial Support;
  6. NBI Clearance;
  7. Other country police certificates;
  8. Court and Prison records;
  9. Military or Police Service Records;
  10. Application for Immigrant visa and Registration;
  11. Three 2”x2” photographs;
  12. Civil documents proving relationship to the U.S. sponsor, if appropriate; and
  13. Medical Examination Results.

 

24.  What are the documents needed for the application for an immigrant visa, for an employment-based petition?

The documents needed for the application for an employment-based visa are:

  1. Passport;
  2. Birth Certificate;
  3. Notarized confirmation of Job Offer and Salary (Should be on the stationary of the employer’s business organization and it must have been issued less than one year prior to the visa application;
  4. NBI Clearance;
  5. Three 2”x2” photographs;
  6. Medical examination results;

 

25.  An applicant recently had a total health work up, can he be exempted from the medical examination?

No. All immigrant visa applicants, regardless of age, need to complete a medical examination at the St. Luke’s Medical Center Extension Clinic (SLMCEC) before the visa interview.

 

26.  Can an applicant have his medical examination done by his personal doctor?

No. SLMEC is the Embassy’s accredited medical facility in the Philippines. It is located at 1177 J. Bocobo St., Ermita, Manila.

 

27.  When should the medical examination be done?

The medical examination should be done 5 to 7 working days prior their scheduled interview at the U.S. Embassy in Manila.

 

28.  What happens if the applicant fails to complete the medical examination in time for the interview?

Failure to complete the medical examination within the given time frame may result in significant delays in the visa processing of his application.

 

29.  What should the applicant bring to his medical examination?

The applicant should bring the following documents to his medical examination:

  1. Appointment letter sent by the National Visa Center or an e-mail confirmation from the Visa Information and Appointment Service.
  2. Appropriate medical examination fee.
  3. Passport (valid for at least 6 months).
  4. Three 2”x2” photographs with a white background.
  5. Vaccination Record

 

30.  Is there a vaccination requirement for immigrant visa applicants?

Yes. U.S. immigration law requires that ALL immigrant visa applicants be vaccinated against certain vaccine-preventable diseases before they can be admitted to the United States for permanent residence.

 

31.  What are the vaccinations currently required, as based on the U.S. immigration laws?

Vaccinations are required against the following diseases:

  1. Mumps
  2. Measles
  3. Rubella
  4. Polio
  5. Tetanus
  6. Diphtheria
  7. Pertussis
  8. Haemophilus influenza Type B
  9. Rotavirus
  10. Hepatitis A
  11. Hepatitis B
  12. Meningococcal disease
  13. Varicella
  14. Pneumoccocal
  15. Influenza
  16. Any other vaccinations recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices.

 

32.  What would happen if the applicant misrepresents a material fact in their application?

If the misrepresentation was discovered, it would result in the permanent ineligibility of the applicant to receive a U.S. visa or enter the United States.

 

33.  How could an applicant find out if his application was successful?

The interviewer would inform the applicant at the conclusion of the interview if they qualify for a U.S. visa. If the visa is approved, the passport with the U.S. visa would be delivered by the courier service to the address provided when the appointment was made. The courier would deliver to Philippine addresses only.