Overview of DS-260 Immigrant Visas and Consular Processing in Arizona
Getting your green card is an exciting opportunity, so it is unfortunate when mistakes with DS-260 lead to delays or even a rejection of your immigrant visa application. Instead of putting your interests at risk, you should retain experienced legal representation for assistance with consular processing. An Arizona immigration lawyer can advise you on the prerequisites and help with paperwork for DS-260, and an overview is informative.
Basics of DS-260 Immigrant Visas in Arizona
Form DS-260, the Online Immigrant Visa Application, is what you use to apply for a green card when you are outside the US. The process is handled by the USCIS, the National Visa Center (NVC), and the US embassy or consulate in your home nation. You will need to meet all prerequisites before you can file DS-260, and an important one is completing an immigrant petition. The petitioner may be a family member, fiancé, or employer depending on the basis for immigrating, and you are the beneficiary. If your application for an immigrant visa is approved, you receive a stamp in your passport to enter the US and obtain your green card.
You will also need to file a DS-261 as part of consular processing, but this form is relatively straightforward. This document provides details on how to reach you for additional steps in the process. It is necessary to complete DS-261 before you file DS-260, and keep in mind that processing time is approximately 2-3 weeks.
Prerequisites to Apply for an Immigrant Visa in Arizona
Depending on the basis for seeking LPR status, someone in the US will need to complete an immigrant petition on your behalf before you can prepare DS-260. The most common forms include:
- Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative: A US citizen or LPR prepares this form to bring qualifying family members into the US. The beneficiary may be a spouse, parent, or child under 21 years old, as well as siblings in some cases.
- Form I-129F Petition for an Alien Fiancé: US citizens can file this form to help a foreign national enter the US for purposes of marriage, and the wedding must take place within 90 days thereafter.
- Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker: Employers use this petition to bring a noncitizen to the US for work, under the worker classifications for EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3. An EB-5 immigrant investor would also enter as a beneficiary under Form I-140.
Understanding the Role of the National Visa Center
Consular processing is coordinated through a number of agencies, and the NVC operates as a subdivision of the US State Department. The NVC is involved at different stages as you are working to get your green card. USCIS is the agency that reviews immigrant petitions filed by US citizens, green card holders, or US-based employers. Once it approves the petition for an individual going through consular processing, all documents are turned over to the NVC.
You will receive word from the NVC when the immigrant petition was approved, and all notifications will be forwarded via the contact information you included on DS-261. The NVC will provide several important identification numbers to you, as well as information on filing fees. These details will be necessary when it comes time to prepare DS-260, which varies according to the type of immigrant visa and your priority date. Once you are cleared to apply, the NVC sends an invitation for you to complete DS-260 online.
The NVC also plays a role after you submit the immigration visa application, which is gathering and coordinating the supporting documents for DS-260. The agency assembles and forwards a package for the consulate officer, who will review the paperwork and make a final decision on the immigrant application.
How to File DS-260 Immigrant Visa in Arizona
The form is an electronic application for an immigrant visa, so you will need internet access to complete it. The communication from the NVC will provide a link to the Consular Electronic Application Center (CEAC), the website where you will access and complete the DS-260. Your Arizona immigrant visa attorney will guide you, but there are a few points to keep in mind when doing so:
- You will need the identification numbers provided to you by the NVC when it notified you that USCIS approved the immigrant petition.
- All forms must be completed in English, so you will need to make arrangements for a translator if necessary.
- Make sure to list all children on DS-260, regardless of whether they will be accompanying you to the US.
- Include all addresses where you have physically lived. Do not forget to list addresses where you lived as a student, even if you used your parents’ mailing address while in school.
- You cannot make changes to DS-260 after submitting it, so it is critical to check all details before you finalize the application. If you make a mistake, you can mention it at your interview and request the consular officer to make corrections.
- Though you will complete DS-260 online, you can put the application on pause and save the information you have already input to the system. This is helpful if you need to obtain details and return to update the form.
- After you finalize and submit DS-260 through the CEAC, you will receive a confirmation receipt from the NVC. At this point, you must forward all supporting documentation that serves as proof of the information you provided on your immigrant visa application.
Documents and Evidence for Immigrant Visa Applications
Completing the DS-260 application requires extensive supporting documentation, and the details vary according to your basis for immigrating to the US. In addition, the consulate in your home country will have rules about submitting paperwork via upload to CEAC, email attachment, or mail. As part of your preparations for filing DS-260, you should collect and organize:
- Your birth certificate and passport
- A copy of your marriage certificate for an alien spouse
- Copies of all documentation showing termination of prior marriages, such as divorce decrees, annulment orders, and death certificates
- Records regarding military service
- Information about a job offer or accepting a position, for employment-based immigration visas
- Details about your social media accounts will be reviewed by the consular officer
- Any additional documents as requested by NVC
In addition, many applicants for an immigrant visa must arrange for an Affidavit of Support. Individuals who are entering the US for family-based immigration must be able to show that they will not become a burden on US taxpayers because of a lack of financial backing. The document is completed by the spouse or family member in the US, usually, the person who completed the immigrant petition as a prerequisite for filing DS-260. The Affidavit of Support is a contract in which the sponsor agrees to pay the US government if the beneficiary becomes financially dependent.
Next Steps in Getting a Green Card
The stage after filing DS-260 involves a waiting game as officials go through the information on your form and your supporting documents. You will receive a notification from the NVC about your interview, including the date, time, and location. During the interview, you will be asked numerous questions to confirm the details you provided in your application. Based on the information from your forms, supporting documentation, and interview, the consular officer will decide whether you are eligible for a green card.
If you are granted an immigrant visa, you will receive a Visa Packet that you will present to US Customs and Border Protection at your port of entry. Your green card will arrive at the US mailing address that you listed in your application, so allow 4-5 weeks.
How an Arizona Immigration Lawyer Helps with DS-260
You can see from this overview that legal assistance is critical in every step of consular processing. It is essential to retain an immigration attorney in Arizona who has in-depth knowledge of USCIS rules and DS-260 requirements, as well as experience dealing with NVC. You can trust your lawyer to tackle such tasks as:
- Assessing eligibility criteria for filing an immigrant petition on your behalf
- Coordinating with the petitioner in the US to complete all forms and submit supporting documentation
- Helping you gather the evidence needed to prepare DS-260
- Guiding you through the electronic application for an immigrant visa
- Addressing a Notice of Intent to Deny (NOID) or Request for Evidence (RFE), if the official needs additional information for consular processing
- Preparing you for your interview with a consular officer
- Advising you on final steps for getting your green card and LPR status
Set Up a Consultation with an Arizona DS-260 Immigrant Visas Attorney Today
Our team at Diamondback Legal is prepared to assist with these tasks and many others as you are going through consular processing. We will provide skilled legal services from the earliest stages, ensuring that errors and omissions do not interfere with getting your green card. To learn more about how we can help, please call our Phoenix office at (602) 755-3199 or visit our website. We can schedule a consultation with an Arizona immigration lawyer who will explain more about DS-260 immigration visa applications.
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