If the spouse seeking a green card is living abroad, USCIS transfers the case to the National Visa Center (NVC) once the I-130 petition is approved.
The next step is to file an application package with the NVC, which is run by the U.S. State Department. The NVC gathers the necessary forms and documents and decides whether the spouse is ready for an interview at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad (called “consular processing”).
After receiving the case from USCIS, the NVC assigns a unique case number that is then used to identify the case from that point onward. The NVC typically processes an application package within 3-5 months, and then forwards it to a U.S. embassy or consulate in the spouse’s country of residence.
- Choice of address and agent (Form DS-261) filed in the Consular Electronic Application Center
- Green card application form (DS-260) filed online here
- Financial support form (I-864)
- Proof of the spouse’s nationality (copy of the birth certificate and passport photo page)
- Copy of a police certificate for the spouse (showing past legal infractions, if any)
- Copy of your marriage certificate
- Copies of marriage termination documents for both spouses, if any (divorce documents or death certificates for previous spouses)
- If the foreign spouse served in the military of any country, a copy of the military record
- Copies of any court or prison records, if the spouse was ever convicted of a crime
- Proof of the sponsoring spouse’s ability to financially support the spouse seeking a green card (copy of the sponsoring spouse’s latest federal income tax returns and pay stubs)—for more details, see our explanation of the “Affidavit of Support.”
- Sometimes there are additional document requirements that are consulate-specific. You should always check here to see if the consulate where you will be interviewing has any specific additional requirements.
- If the package includes any documents in a language other than English, you must also include a translation of each document, certified as accurate by the translator.
Total mandatory fees for this step are $445, payable online here. This covers the $325 fee for the DS-260 and the $120 fee for the I-864.
Your NVC package should include all of the above forms, fees, and documents. Once your NVC package is complete, you will upload your documents, email your documents, or mail everything to the NVC’s physical address—depending on the consulate that will ultimately process your green card application. Check here to determine which of the submission options apply to you. If the NVC needs more information or documents to complete your NVC package, they will send you a checklist of missing documents, typically within 1-2 months.
Once the NVC has everything they need, they will typically make a decision on your I-130 petition within 3-5 months.