April 10, 2021

Immigrants today account for about 13.7% of the US population, which is more than ever. 

Despite that high number, the process of immigration can seem very daunting. It’s often lengthy and involves a lot of paperwork, and it’s difficult to ever really know what’s going on behind the scenes.

While immigration looks different for everyone depending on the type of visa, this is generally what you can expect from the US immigration process.

The Petition

If you have a loved one living abroad, you’ll file a petition for the first of all. This involves filling out paperwork stating your relation to them, everything that USCIS needs to know about each of you, and generally just asking for permission to apply for immigration.

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This petition is often the longest part of the immigration system. 

If you or your loved one are already in the US, you’ll fill out an application for adjustment of status instead. 

Whichever path you follow, USCIS is the first barrier to deal with when coming to America and it can take many months — or even years — to process these forms. 

National Visa Center

If the person immigrating isn’t in the US yet, you’ll have to deal with the National Visa Center (NVC) afterward. Their job is to make sure the intending immigrant is ready for an interview and has all of the necessary paperwork before traveling to the US embassy. 

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They’ll check all of your civil documents and also make sure that the sponsor has enough money to support the immigrant. If you file a petition for a loved one, you must prove you have the money to help them when they arrive in the US, as they cannot rely on government assistance. 

The Interview

Once the NVC has checked over the documents, the person intending to immigrant will reach the final stage: the interview.

Interviews can be intense or they can be very easy. This depends on if the consular office sees any “red flags” in the immigration process (which can be very subjective) and if the country the person is immigrating from is perceived as high-fraud.

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If approved, the immigrant will be issued their visa and will be traveling to America very shortly. 


Of course, this is a very simplified guide. Complications can arise at any point in the process, and sometimes people travel to the US and stay before their visa is ever issued (or travel on vacation and then never file for adjustment of status).

If this has happened and your loved one has ended up in trouble with the legal system, you might need more help. Read up on immigration bail bonds at https://immigrationbond.com/immigration-bail-bonds-complete-guide/ if this is the sort of advice you’re looking for. 

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The US Immigration Process Looks Different for Everyone

It’s important to remember that although this is a rough guide, the US immigration process looks different for everyone. If you’ve run into complications — or are anticipating doing so — your best option is to contact a lawyer who can help you deal with them.

For more lifestyle and other advice, check out the rest of our site.

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