Three Main Steps in the Immigrant Visa Process

Step 1: The Department of Homeland Security

The process of applying for all categories of immigrant visas begins with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In most cases, this consists of filing a petition with the DHS office having jurisdiction over the petitioner’s place of residence in the United States. The petitioner should contact the appropriate DHS office using the Government Pages of the local telephone directory or by going to the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.

Step 2: The National Visa Center

Once DHS has approved a petition, the petition will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). All petitions are administratively processed at the NVC, and after they complete the process NVC will schedule an interview appointment for the beneficiary of the petition at the embassy specified on the petition. The NVC will forward all Immediate Relative petitions to the embassy for interview. The NVC will store all preference petitions until the priority dates are close to being current and will then forward all such petitions to the embassy for interview.

To contact the National Visa Center, please visit Public Inquiry Form.

Please note that for K-1 fiancée and K-3 visa cases, the NVC will forward the petition to the Embassy without collecting all the required documentation; the embassy will collect the documents from the beneficiary of the petition in Cambodia (“Packet 3”). Packet 3 documents and instructions are only available as a download from this website. Once the Embassy receives both the petition from the NVC and all the forms and documents from Packet 3, the applicant is considered “documentarily qualified.” For this reason, fiancée visa interviews cannot be scheduled online in the same way non-immigrant visa interviews are; we cannot schedule an interview until we have received the confirmation page of DS-160 and a signed Checklist of Documents (see Packet 3).

Note: Please do not send Packet 3 or other documents to the embassy unless you have been informed that your approved petition is at the embassy.

Step 3: The Embassy Consular Section

The Consular Section in Phnom Penh receives the approved petitions from the NVC for conducting the visa interview (except as noted above for K-1 fiancée and K-3 visa cases). Once your interview has been scheduled by the NVC, arrive at the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh at your appointed time. Bring complete and organized documentation. An Embassy employee will review your documents and prepare your file for your interview with a consular officer. Screening time averages 10-15 minutes. Incomplete and unorganized documents can delay the process. When your case file has been fully screened, a consular officer will call you to an interview window for an interview. If your case is approved, the visa will usually be issued for pickup at the Embassy in 4-7 business days.

We cannot expedite immigrant visa interviews except in cases of true emergency, such as military deployment or medical emergencies. In these cases, please inform us immediately by email so that we may do our best to be of assistance.

Applicants requiring additional administrative processing after the interview may experience delays (from several weeks to several months). We will inform applicants when this processing applies. The applicants may check the current status of their cases by visiting https://ceac.state.gov/CEAC/

If you are found ineligible for an immigrant visa, the consular officer will advise you if the law provides for a waiver of your ineligibility.