Marriage Petition Roadmap - What happens after submission (consular processing)?

Marriage Petition Roadmap - What happens after submission (consular processing)?

Find out the steps your application will go through after it is submitted. What does USCIS do to process your marriage petition application via consular processing? What other steps will the intended immigrant and US petitioner need to go through before obtaining a green card? 

Completeness Check 

The first thing that will happen is that an officer at USCIS will go through your application to make sure that your application is complete. This includes checking that all required documents, translations, forms, and signatures were provided. 

USCIS may return your application if it does not believe that your application is complete. If your application is not processed it will not be placed in-line and will be returned to you without being placed in the queue. 

Receipt Letter

The USCIS will provide a Receipt letter 

  • This letter confirms USCIS has received your petition. Receipt notices typically arrive by mail 2-3 weeks after submission. 
  • This letter contains a receipt number that can be used to track the status of processing at 

Qualifying Relationship 

The USCIS will determine whether your relationship meets the test. 

  • The USCIS will examine whether your sponsor is eligible to petition their spouse and if the relationship is bona fide (instead of a marriage of convenience for immigration purposes).

Marriage Petition Decision Letter  

The USCIS will notify the petitioner (US citizen or lawful permanent resident) of its decision. 

  • If the marriage petition is approved, it will be sent to the Department of State’s National Visa Center. 
  • If the petition is denied, the decision letter will include the reason for denying the petition and whether you may appeal the decision. Sometimes, before a denial is sent, a “Notice of Intent to Deny” is sent, allowing the petitioner to respond to address the officer’s concerns. If you receive a Notice of Intent to Deny, we highly recommend hiring an immigration lawyer to help you respond. 

National Visa Center Processing   

The National Visa Center will collect documents prior to your consular interview. 

  • A few weeks after your marriage petition is approved, the National Visa Center (NVC) will email you to confirm that it has received the approved immigrant visa petition from USCIS. 
  • NVC's role is to ensure you are prepared for your immigrant visa interview at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate General, and to schedule your interview appointment.
  • NVC is responsible for collecting any applicable fees, the Immigrant Visa Application, supporting civil documents, police certificate(s), Affidavits of Support, and financial documents, if applicable, prior to your visa interview at a U.S. Embassy/Consulate General


Consular Electronic Application Center  (CEAC)  

The CEAC is the electronic portal  used by the National Visa Center to collect documents. 

  • The NVC will provide you with an NVC Case Number and Invoice ID number by email. 
  • You will be able to use your case number and ID to check your case status, pay any necessary fees, upload and submit documents, and read messages from NVC. 
  • Please note that it can take up to 3 days (72 hours) from your CEAC account to be activated from the time that you receive notice from NVC, so please be patient. 
  • You will need to submit the requested documents and form(s) via the portal, in order to get an interview appointment. 
  • Tip 1: you will need to bring the exact original document of any document that you upload to CEAC, so to save time, organize the physical documents with originals as you are uploading them online. 
  • Tip 2: Don’t have your case terminated by missing this information- If you do not log into CEAC or communicate with NVC regarding this immigrant visa case for a period of one year, by law the Department of State must terminate your visa application.

NVC Processing 

The NVC processing may vary by consulate or embassy, but the following are commonly required. 

  • Payment of fees: 1) Immigrant visa application processing fee and 2) Affidavit of Support fee. After submitting the payment online, it can take up to 1 week for NVC to process your payment and allow you to complete the next step. 

  • Affidavit of Support: This is used by the US National “sponsor” to accept financial responsibility for the applicant who is coming to live in the United States. The sponsor’s financial responsibility usually lasts until the applicant becomes a U.S. citizen or can be credited with 40 qualifying quarters of work (usually 10 years) under the social security act. 
  • Supporting documents: 
    • Evidence of finances.
    • Civil documents including birth certificates, marriage certificates, police certificates, passports, and court/ prison records. 
    • Translation of documents. 
  • Visa Application Form DS-260: The applicant completes this form with biographical and other background information to allow the US to do their background check and due diligence before issuing an immigrant visa. Questions include address and employment history, information about your family, admissibility, and other personal information such as social media profiles.

Documentarily Complete   

The National Visa Center completes its processing of your immigrant visa application and sends it the Embassy/ Consulate General responsible for your country. 

  • You will receive a message in your CEAC account and email, confirming that your case is documentarily complete. 
  • An immigrant visa interview is scheduled and communicated by email from NVC. 

Interview Preparation   

Each Embassy/ Consulate General has its own pre-interview procedure. It’s important to read and follow the instructions carefully to avoid delays. 

  • Remember that you must bring the original documents for review by the consular officer to review during the interview. 
  • A medical appointment by a Civil Surgeon/ Panel Physician is usually  needed prior to your interview. The doctor has to be approved by the embassy. During the medical exam, you must also provide proof of immunizations. To learn more about vaccine waiver/ exemptions, see here. 
  • You may need to register for courier services and follow embassy-specific instructions. 

Immigrant Visa Interview   

You will be interviewed at an Embassy/ Consulate General as the final step in visa processing. 

  • As part of the visa interview process, your fingerprints and photo will be taken. 
  • You will need to bring your appointment notice and other required documents. 
  • If your visa is approved, you will be informed and the immigrant visa will be placed in your passport (congratulations!!). Before you travel, remember to pay the USCIS immigrant fee. 
  • You have to enter the United States to become a permanent resident before the expiry date on your visa (usually 6 months after the issuance of your visa, or before your passport expires, whichever is sooner). 
  • Tip: Before your visa interview, make sure that your passport is valid for at least 6 months, and longer if possible.

Becoming a US Permanent Resident 

You will become a US permanent resident on the day you cross the border using your immigrant visa. 

  • Your green card will be mailed to your US address. 

Celebrate - you are officially a lawful permanent resident of United States, congratulations! 

Do you have any more questions?

Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. 

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