What is an Immigrant Visa?
An immigrant visa is a document issued by a U.S. consular officer abroad that allows you to travel to the United States and apply for admission as a lawful permanent resident (LPR).
In general, to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative(s), U.S. lawful permanent resident, or by a prospective employer, and be the beneficiary of an approved petition. Therefore, a first step is filing a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For information on this step, visit the USCIS website.
Once you are admitted as an LPR, USCIS will mail your permanent resident card (often called a “green card”) to your new address in the United States, usually within three months of your entry into the United States. This card is proof of your right to live and work in the United States. You can learn more about the rights and responsibilities associated with being a LPR here.
Click here for a complete list of immigrant visa types.
Step by Step Process
Follow the links below for a step-by-step guide to the immigrant visa process. This section does not apply to fiancée/K visas. See our Fiancée Visas section for more information.
Step 1: File a Petition with USCIS
Step 2: National Visa Center (NVC) Case Preparation
After USCIS approves a petition, it forwards the approved file to the National Visa Center (NVC). Delivery and registration in the NVC database can take up to two months, and neither NVC nor this embassy can take any action on a petition until it has been received from USCIS and entered in that database.
Petitions may remain at NVC for several months or years depending on the visa category. When an applicant’s case is about to become current (i.e., the appointment is likely to be available within the year), NVC will coordinate with the applicant regarding the submission of all civil documents, police clearances, affidavits of support, and other key documents.
Therefore, it is important to keep NVC updated as to the most current contact information for both the applicant and the petitioner. Please click here to contact the National Visa Center.
If the priority date (the date the petition was filed) is not current, the NVC will keep the approved petition on file until the priority date is reached.
Click here to learn more about how NVC prepares your case file prior to your interview. NVC will not schedule your appointment until you have submitted all of the requested documents.
Step 3: NVC Appointment Scheduling
Once the National Visa Center (NVC) has received all the documents necessary to complete the visa application, NVC will send the applicant a letter with the time and date of the visa interview.
This letter will also contain instructions on additional steps the applicant must complete prior to attending your appointment. It is important you to follow the instructions for arranging delivery of your approved visa.
After notifying you of the appointment date and time, NVC will forward all of the documents it collected to the Embassy for use during your interview. All documents the applicant collected in Step 2 will be needed for the visa interview.
If you are unable to attend your scheduled appointment, you should e-mail IVBogota@state.gov to obtain instructions on how to reschedule your appointment. Rescheduling an appointment may result in a significant delay in processing your visa case.
Step 4. Register your appointment
Please visit the following link to learn how to prepare for your Immigrant Visa interview: INSTRUCTIONS PACKET # 4 (PDF 220KB)
If you received a letter from the NVC stating that an appointment has been scheduled for you at the U.S. Embassy in Bogota, you MUST register prior to your immigrant visa appointment.
IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that if you haven’t registered by the time of your interview, you won’t be allowed to attend and you will have to reschedule your appointment.
Please register by following the steps described below:
- Go to https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-co/iv
- Click on “Register” and follow the instructions to create your account.
- When prompted, choose the option “I need to register an immigrant visa appointment”, then follow the instructions until you get to the “Schedule Appointments” screen.
- On the “Schedule Appointments”, you will see the date and time of the original appointment assigned by the National Visa Center (NVC).
- Please follow these steps for any members of your family listed on the NVC appointment letter. NOTE: Even if your family members are not unable to attend this initial interview, they will be unable to schedule a future appointment if you do not register them today.
Step 5: The Medical Examination
Please visit the following link to learn how to prepare for your Immigrant Visa interview: INSTRUCTIONS PACKET # 4 (PDF 240KB)
All immigrant visa applicants must undergo a medical examination before receiving a visa.
After you receive your appointment date from the NVC, we suggest you schedule your medical examination between one month and a few days before your visa interview date. Please do not attempt to schedule your medical appointment until you have received instructions from NVC or this embassy.
Most applicants will be given their medical exam results to hand carry to the embassy. In some case, however, the doctor will send your results directly to the Embassy. If you are given your medical exam to carry to the Embassy DO NOT open the sealed envelope. If you open the medical exam, you will be required to schedule and pay for a new medical exam.
Special note about TB testing
- If you test positive for Tuberculosis, you will be subject to additional testing. You will receive further instructions from the Medical clinic staff and/or the embassy.
During the medical exam, it is important to give complete and honest answers to all of the questions asked. If, during the course of your visa interview, the Embassy discovers you left out or misrepresented medical information, you will have to schedule and pay for a new medical exam.
Important: Submitting to a tuberculosis (TB) test is a requirement for all immigrant visa applicants and may not be waived. Due to a temporary nationwide shortage, however, Purified Protein Derivative (PPD) tests, which are normally used to test for TB, are unavailable in Colombia until further notice. Until the PPD test is available, immigrant visa applicants in Bogota may instead opt for a Gamma Release Assay (IGRA) test, which also tests for TB. We recognize, however, that the IGRA test is significantly more expensive than the PPD test. For that reason, any immigrant applicant who prefers to wait until the less expensive PPD test once again becomes available may do so. No matter which TB test is chosen, all immigrant visa applicants should attend their medical and interview appointments as currently scheduled.