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Immigrant Visa FAQs

Immigrant Visa Frequently Asked Questions

I. General Immigrant Visa Inquiries

II. After the Interview

III. Heading to the United States

Who requires an Immigrant Visa?

Anyone wishing to permanently live or work in the United States requires an immigrant visa to travel to the United States. See our Immigrant Visa page for information on who may qualify for immigration and application procedures.

All immigrant visa inquiries must be directed to the Immigrant Visa Unit. Because of American privacy laws, only the petitioner or the applicant may be given information regarding their case. The Immigrant Visa Unit may be reached through our web-based e-mail submission system.

How do I find my case number?

The applicant or the petitioner may contact the National Visa Center in order obtain their case number. It should generally begin with “ISL” and then be followed by a 10-digit number. We may be able to assist as well if the applicant or petitioner sends an email to us with the applicant’s full name and date of birth.

I want to file an I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) for my immediate family in Pakistan.

You must file your petition with your local U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) office or, if you are currently abroad in Pakistan, please send it to the appropriate lockbox address in the United States.  For more information, please visit this website.

What is my priority date?

Your priority date is the date on which your petition was filed with USCIS. The table below indicates which priority dates are “current,” meaning that visas are available. If your priority date is earlier than the date listed below for your visa classification, then your case is considered “current.” The most up-to-date priority date table can be found at our website.

I have received an e-mail that I have been selected to apply for a Green Card lottery visa. Is it authentic?

You should not believe any e-mail claiming that you have won or been selected to apply for a visa under the Diversity Visa program. In some cases, these malicious e-mails are sent by criminal operators who seek to defraud individuals. The State Department has dedicated units that work with Internet providers to try to stop these scams.

Please consult this State Department website for further information about internet scams.

Please also note that Pakistan does not qualify for the diversity lottery because of the large number of Pakistan nationals who have immigrated to the United States during the last five years. The U.S. Diversity Lottery was established for individuals from countries which are under-represented in the United States. For more information please visit our Diversity Visa Website.

How do I get an appointment for my immigrant visa case?

The National Visa Center (NVC) schedules 90% of the immigrant visa cases processed at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad.  Once your immigrant visa case is current, NVC will contact you or your petitioner to request fee payment, visa photos, the I-864 Affidavit of Support, and other required documents (DS-230, birth certificates, and possibly marriage, divorce and/or death certificates). Once you submit these documents to NVC, you will get an appointment letter and your immigrant visa file will be sent to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad for processing. You will need to come to the embassy on the scheduled interview date bringing your passport(s), medical report(s) and any other documentation mentioned in your interview letter.

The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad will not send an interview letter if the case is scheduled by the National Visa Center.

What if my I-130 petition is approved right away but we're not ready to move yet?

Once your I-130 petition has been approved, you are advised to proceed with the final interview for the immigrant visa within the 6 months before you intend to immigrate to the United States. If you do not intend to immigrate to the United States within the next 6 months, you should NOT proceed with the final interview for the immigrant visa. This is because legal permanent residents (LPRs, or green card holders) lose their resident status if they are outside of the United States for a year or more. In short, legal permanent resident status is for people who are resident in the United States.

Please note that if you have not applied for an immigrant visa in the year since your I-130 petition has been approved, your petition may be terminated.  However, you can keep your I-130 active indefinitely by contacting us at least once a year.  By sending us a letter updating your contact information and stating that you still intend to immigrate at some point in the future, we will reset the 1-year clock.

My petitioner was a Green Card holder but is now a U.S. Citizen.  How do I change my visa category?

You must send a clear copy of either the petitioner's Naturalization Certificate or passport to the office where your petition is located. Your petition may be with USCIS, at the National Visa Center, or at the Embassy. See our Contact us page for the proper contact information.

My K1/K3 case has been approved and is transferred from National Visa Center to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. What do I do next?

Please wait patiently. The applicant or petitioner should receive an instruction packet 3.5 after the Embassy has reviewed the file. This process can take 2-3 weeks. The instruction packet 3.5 will be sent to the applicant at his/her mailing address. If you do not receive your packet 3.5 after one month, please write to us by using our web-based e-mail submission form stating your case number and the name and date of birth of the applicant.

II. After the Interview

After my interview I was told that my case requires more administrative processing. What does this mean?

Administrative Processing is a standard procedure for all visa applications. It is a normal process and it does not mean anything is wrong with your case. Some cases take longer to process than others. Once the administrative processing has been completed, we will contact you immediately to let you know and will ask you to return your passport if we have not retained it. Once we have printed your visa, we will return your passport along with the visa packet via our approved courier service (American Express).  If it has been more than 6 months since your interview, please e-mail us through our web-based e-mail submission form with your interview date and case number.

After my interview I was told that I need to provide additional documentation.

At the time of your interview, you received an OF-194 (blue refusal sheet) with instructions telling you what to do.  In most cases, applicants should obtain the requested documents or photographs and send them to the U.S. Embassy through our approved courier service.

At my interview a DNA test was suggested. What do I do now?

The first step is for petitioner to submit his/her DNA samples at one of the labs listed on this website.

The lab will then send a DNA kit to the Embassy. Upon receiving the DNA kit, we will contact you to schedule your appointment at the Embassy for a DNA test. This process may take several months to complete.

At my interview I was told that my case has been suspended and the Embassy will send a request for revocation. What does that mean?

Your petition has been returned to the National Visa Center with a recommendation for revocation. This means that the consular officer who interviewed you had concerns about the relationship that was the basis for the petition. A final determination on your case will be made by USCIS in the United States.

Questions about a case that has been returned with a request for revocation should be referred to the USCIS office where the petition was filed originally. No appeal or reinstatement request will be processed at the U.S. Embassy.

After the interview, I was found ineligible for a visa. If I am permitted to file a waiver application for my ineligibility, what should I do?

If you have been found ineligible for a visa, the consular section cannot issue you a visa. Please click on the following link for more information on what the new waiver procedure is as of June 4, 2012: Please note that after June 4, 2012, applicants will no longer be able to submit their waivers to the Consulate.

Once you submit the waiver package, it will be forwarded by our office to the USCIS office in New Delhi, India for processing. It often takes at least 6 to 8 months before a decision is made.

III. Heading to the United States

What if there’s a mistake on my visa?

If there is a mistake on your visa, please call the Immigrant Visa Section (or e-mail the visa section and describe the problem. If our staff informs you that there is something that needs to be corrected, please return our passport to our office by sending it to us through the courier service. Once we have corrected your visa, we will send your passport back to you through the courier service with a new visa.

What about my pet?

A health certificate is required to bring a dog or cat into the U.S. Such a certificate is usually required by the airlines and the airlines should be contacted concerning any time limitations or other details. Pets may need to be quarantined and have a rabies vaccination. Please see Customs and Border Protection website (PDF 104 KB) for more information.

How much money can I bring?

There is no limit on the amount of money which may be taken in or out of the United States. However, any amount in excess of $10,000 in currency, travelers checks or negotiable instruments, must be declared to the United States Customs at the time of arrival in or departure from the United States. Please see Customs and Border Protection website (doc)(PDF 56 KB) for more information.

Can I work?

Upon entering the United States on an immigrant visa you will require no further authorization from the Department of Homeland Security to take up employment. If you are seeking to immigrate on the basis of an offer of employment, you will require a U.S. based employer to file an immigrant visa petition on your behalf with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

How do I get a Social Security number?

By law, each immigrant or refugee admitted to the United States must obtain a Social Security number. Social Security numbers are required to work in the United States, to open a bank account, to pay taxes, and for many other purposes. An application for a Social Security number should be made to the local Social Security Office in the area where the immigrant will reside after their arrival in the United States. See the website of the Social Security Administration for further information.

How do I become an American citizen?

An immigrant can become an American citizen through naturalization by living in the United States for a specified period, usually five years (three years if married to a citizen) and passing a naturalization examination.  However, there is no requirement that immigrants become citizens as they are free to live in the United States as long as wish so long as they abide by the laws of the land, which apply to citizens and aliens alike.