IV Frequently Asked Questions
Immigrant Visas – Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What is the difference between an immigrant and non-immigrant visa?
Answer: An immigrant visa is issued to a qualified person who has an approved petition based on a family relationship and who wishes to live in the U.S. permanently. A non-immigrant visa is issued to a person who is traveling to the U.S. for a specific purpose (vacation, studies, medical treatment, business, temporary work) and who will depart the U.S. after completion of that purpose.
Question: How can I immigrate to the U.S.?
Answer: An individual is eligible for immigration to the U.S. through a petition filed by an immediate family member who is a U.S. citizen or Legal Permanent Resident or the Diversity Visa program.
Question: How do I find out the status of my file? Has my IV / Asylee petition arrived at Post? When will my petition become current?
Answer: Depending on when a petition was filed with the Department of Homeland Security, and what stage of the process it is currently in, there are varying degrees of information to be shared with prospective immigrant visa beneficiaries. Other factors include the age of the applicant, the type of immigrant visa applied for, and the relationship between the petitioner (the individual who filed the original petition) and the beneficiary (the individual applying for the visa). If your petition has not yet arrived at Embassy Lomé, you can check for status updates by entering your case number electronically at www.uscis.gov.
Question: I have not received my Diversity Visa appointment letter yet; how do I find out when my interview will be?
Answer: You may send an email to KCC to inquire about your file status at KCCDV@state.gov.
Question: How can I reschedule my interview date?
Answer: Please contact the Consular Section at ConsularLome@state.gov to reschedule your interview. Please note that due to time constraints, Diversity Visa applicants who reschedule their appointments between June and September may not complete the visa process prior to end of the Diversity Visa issuance period (i.e. September 30).
Question: How do I know if my work experience qualifies me for the Diversity Visa program?
Answer: All Diversity Visa applicants should consult the U.S. Department of Labor’s online site http://onetcenter.org/ before their interview to see if their work experience or expertise qualifies them for a visa.
Question: I brought all of the required documents during my interview. Why am I being asked to bring other documents?
Answer: During the visa interview, the Consular Officer determines if additional documents are required to help establish your eligibility for visa issuance. Secondary documents are not statutorily required. However, applicants should submit secondary documents to help establish their qualifications. When you are asked to provide additional information or supporting documents, your application is generally refused under Section 221(g) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. A consular sheet is given to you after the interview indicating the additional documentation you should present.
Question: When does the Embassy request a DNA test?
Answer: Relationship fraud for immigrant visa purposes is a serious concern and we are often compelled to ask applicants to take additional steps to establish relationships. In the absence of any conclusive evidence, DNA testing may be recommended as a more reliable and reasonable way to validate the claimed relationship.
The DNA testing is not a requirement. It is for the petitioner to decide whether to submit to the testing procedure. The burden of proof is upon the petitioner and/or beneficiary to establish the claimed relationship.
If the petitioner and the beneficiary elect to undergo DNA testing, the test must be done at a laboratory accredited by the American Association of Blood Banks (AABB). The petitioner or beneficiary contacts the U.S. laboratory, which then sends a testing kit and instructions directly to the Embassy. The Embassy collects the sample or specimen and ships it to the U.S. laboratory, which sends an original copy of the test result directly to the Embassy. Please note that the entire process can take several weeks.
Question: Will the same Consular Officer talk to me if I have to return to the Embassy?
Answer: There is no assurance that you will be seen by the same Consular Officer. All officers have access to the same information about your case and should review your application based on the same requirements.
Question: Can the children of an immigrant visa applicant be included in a single petition?
Answer: Children of American citizens are considered Immediate Relatives (IR) and must have individual petitions filed for them. Petitions for immediate relatives may be filed simultaneously at the USCIS.
Children of applicants with family-based petitions (F category) may derive immigration benefits from the same petition provided that they are single and under 21. Such children are called "derivatives" for purposes of immigration. Only biological or legally-adopted children are entitled to derivative status. A non-orphan adopted child must have been legally adopted before the age of 16 and must have been in the physical and legal custody of the adoptive parent for at least two years.
A child born after a petition was filed and approved may be registered or added on to the petition as a derivative. The principal applicant needs to submit the child's birth certificate printed on NSO paper either to the National Visa Center (NVC) or to the Embassy and pay the corresponding visa processing fee for each additional derivative.
Question: Can my child, who is nearing 21 years old, be issued a visa before he turns 21?
Answer: If visa numbers are available for you (or your visa case becomes current for processing) and your child is "aging out" (or turning 21), we are prepared to expedite the processing of the application. However, it is still the applicant's responsibility to complete the application requirements in a timely manner.
U.S. immigration law requires that visa applications be strictly processed according to priority date because of the limited number of visas available worldwide. If you believe ageing out will affect your case, you may contact the Embassy at ConsularLome@state.gov.
Question: We have raised a child who is neither our biological or legally adopted child. Can he/she be included as a derivative on our immigrant visa application?
Answer: No. A child may only become your derivative if that child is either born to you or meets the definition of an adopted child under the Immigration and Nationality Act. If you attempt to bring in a child who does not meet any of these definitions, you risk being denied an immigrant visa and being barred permanently from entering the United States.
Question: Can a child born outside the United States to Legal Permanent Residents enter the United States?
A child born abroad to a mother who is a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident may enter the United States without a visa, provided the child is accompanied by a parent, upon that parent's first return to the United States within two years of the child's birth. The parent must provide reliable documentation showing the parent-child relationship.
Question: The Legal Permanent Resident parents left the child abroad with family members and returned to the United States. Now, they wish to bring the child to the U.S. What must they do?
Answer: The child must have an immigrant visa to enter the United States. The Legal Permanent Resident parent(s) must file an F2A (minor child) or F2B (unmarried child over 21 years old) preference petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Question: If I receive a visa, am I guaranteed entry into the United States?
Answer: A U.S. visa gives you permission to travel to the United States, but does not guarantee your entrance or determine the length of time you will be allowed to stay. An immigration officer at the point of entry makes those decisions.
Question: I was a Legal Permanent Resident ("Green Card" holder) who left the United States for several years. Can I still return to the United States using my Green Card?
Answer: As a Legal Permanent Resident you may remain outside the United States for only one year unless you receive a re-entry permit from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before your departure from the United States. Otherwise, you are considered to have forfeited your status and will need a new petition or you will need to apply for a Returning Resident Visa (For more information). The returning resident visa is granted only when circumstances beyond your control prevented you from returning to your U.S. domicile within the required period of time.
Question: Can I still qualify for a tourist visa if I have a pending immigrant petition?
Answer: Having an immigrant petition on file is not grounds for an automatic refusal for a non-immigrant visa. The Consular Officer reviewing your non-immigrant visa application will require strong evidence that you are not intending to immigrate at this time and that you are returning to Togo after your temporary visit to the United States.