After I-130 Is Approved, What Happens Next?

The U.S. immigration process can drive anyone crazy. But the most frustrating part is how long it takes for approval and not knowing what happens after I-130 is approved.

If you are feeling confused and unsure, you are not alone!

At this point, you’ve probably been waiting months for your I-130 petition to be approved. Now that your petition has been approved, you’re likely wondering what happens after I-130 is approved?

Case Example:

Rebecca met her husband in Peru after teaching English there for several months. After dating for 7 months, they decided to get married and bring him to the US to live and work. They submitted their petition on 4/2/2019 and were approved 9/15/2019. They are now wondering what happens after I-130 is approved?

The following steps outline the process that happens after I-130 is approved.

Note: Have you heard about the Migrant Academy community? It’s an interactive online course platform for couples applying for the CR1 visa. Learn more at https://migrantacademy.com

Step 1: USCIS Sends Petitioner Notice of Action 2 (NOA2)

Several months after submitting your I-130 to USCIS lockbox, you will receive a letter stating your petition has been approved.

This is called the Notice of Action 2 letter.

Make sure you keep this letter somewhere safe because you may need it in the future. The letter will also tell you what will happen with your approved petition and who will handle processing going forward.

If your online case status is updated as “approved” but you don’t receive your NOA2 letter in the mail, contact USCIS customer service at 1-800-375-5283.

USCIS customer service is available Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 8:00 pm EST.

Step 2: USCIS Sends Approved I-130 To National Visa Center (NVC)

After I-130 approval, it’s sent directly to NVC for pre-processing.

Once your visa is ready to be processed, NVC will begin collecting fees, documents, and forms from both the petitioner and beneficiary.

Note: If the petitioner is a US citizen and is filing for immediate relatives, a visa will be available right away. If, however, the petitioner is a green card holder and petitioning for a spouse or child, they must wait for their priority date to become current before NVC will continue to process the case.

Step 3: NVC Issues Case Number and Mails Welcome Letter

After NVC issues your case number you will receive a welcome letter with instructions on the next steps.

Make sure that NVC has at least one good email address for you and your spouse because they will be sending communications via email as well as mail.

Below is a sample letter from NVC that provides the case number and instructions on the next step in processing.

Step 4: You Must Pay Immigrant Visa Fee and AOS Fees

We all hate paying expensive filing fees, but it’s worth it to get your spouse home!

If you’re applying for the spouse visa, there will be two fees that need to be paid before an interview is scheduled.

  • The immigrant visa fee (each applicant will need to pay a separate IV fee)
    • This fee goes directly to the Department of State for processing of your visa during the interview stage. You will not receive an interview or visa until this fee is paid.
  • The affidavit of support fee (only one for beneficiary and children)
    • This fee is paid directly to NVC to process your affidavit of support form and supporting evidence.

Once the fees are paid you will be able to access the online forms to complete. Remember, the faster you pay the fees and complete the online forms the sooner your interview is scheduled.

Step 5: Complete Online Form DS-260 and Form I-864

One of the last steps before scheduling your interview with the consulate or embassy is to complete online form DS-260.

But be warned, DS-260 is a very long form that asks a lot of questions. The following are just some of the quesitons that you will face when completing this online form:

  • Personal Information
    • This section of DS-260 will ask for personal information about the beneficiary such as name, DOB, and previous names used.
  • Address and Phone
    • You must include all addresses for the past 5 years. They will cross reference this information with some of the background checks they perform. Include your home and cell number as well.
  • Family Information
    • This section requires that you provide information about your parents, children and other immediate relatives. This includes where they live, where they were born and whether they are still living.
  • Previous US Travel
    • When providing details on previous travel to the US try to include exact entry and departure dates. You will be given the opportunity to explain any unlawful time spent in the US.
  • Work/Education/Training
    • These questions ask about your current and previous employement, education and training history. Be sure to have the address of your employer or school handy.
  • Petitioner Information
    • In this section, you will include name, address and employer of the person petitioning for you.
  • Security and Background
    • The next following questions ask security related questions. This includes questions about any illegal activity, conspiracy, war crimes etc.
  • Social Security Number
    • These questions ask whether you have ever applied for a SSN and been issued one.

Related Post: How to complete online form DS-260

Step 6: Complete Form I-864 Affidavit of Support

The affidavit of support is a legal document that requires the US petitioner to financially support the beneficiary to avoid them using public assistance.

Note: If you submit your I-130 petition to USCIS before 10/15/2019 then you are grandfathered into the old public charge rules which are less stringent than the new rules taking affect after 10/15/2019.

Podcast EP35: How the new public charge rules affect your visa or green card.

Some petitioners have been told to submit the I-864 with the I-130 by USCIS customer srevice. This is not neccessary since USCIS doesn’t process the affidavit of support and instead, forwrads it to NVC for processing.

But, if you still want to submit the I-864 with your petition it will not hurt your case (and will not help your petition).

Step 7: Visa Interview Is Scheduled At Local Consulate or Embassy

Once you’ve completed both from DS-260 and the I-864 affidavit of support, your interview will be schedueld soon after.

NVC or the consulate will send a letter directly to the beneficiary that will provide the date, time and location of the interview. You may also receive an email and text message before you actually get the notice in the mail.

Step 8: Receive Your Visa Stamped In Your Passport

After a successful interview, you’ll be told that you’ve been approved and should expect your visa stamped in your passport shortly.

The consulat will either mail your passport back to you or have you pick it up at a later date. You will know which option you have after the visa interview is complete.

However, if your interview doesn’t go well, there are two things that could happen:

  • You are placed in administrative processing.
    • If you are placed in AP, then you may be waiting several days to several months to get your approval. During this time, the consular officer will be conducting additional reviews and background checks. You may also be asked to complete form DS-5535 during this time.
  • Your case is refused and petition sent back to USCIS to revoke.
    • If the consular officer refused your visa, then they may suspect fraud or misrepresentation. In this case, they will send the approved I-130 back to USCIS for reconsideration and revocation of your petition.
    • If USCIS agrees with the consulate, they will issue a notice of intent to revoke your approved I-130. You will be given the chance to appeal the decision or you can reapply for a new I-130 petition.
    • If USCIS disagrees with the consulate, they will send back the approved I-130 petition and ask that a new consulate officer complete another interview and review of the case.

Below is an example of the CR1 visa stamped in a foreign passport.

CR1 visa stamp in passport

Conclusion: What Happens After I-130 Is Approved?

Applying for the I-130 petition can seem like a daunting task. I get it, this is your future that is on the line and you really want to get this right.

Thankfully, there is a lot of information out there on how to submit a strong I-130 petition. Your job is to sort through the nonesence and outdated info to get to the real requirements.

After your I-130 petition has been approved, there are many steps that happen for you to receive your CR1 visa.

  • Your case is send to NVC
  • You are given a case number
  • You’ll be provided an invoice number to pay the fees
  • You will complete online form DS-260
  • You will then complete form I-864
  • Your interview will be scheduled
  • You will attend the visa interview at the consulate or embassy
  • There will be a decision on your case (approved, refused, AP)

The number one tip I have for most couples is to truly know their own case. Know what types of questions will be asked at the interview and respond to requests as quickly as possible.

The waiting period is difficult but when you think about it, it’s a small period of time in your life!

If you need help with your CR1 spouse visa case, consider joining the Migrant Academy. It’s the #1 resource for long distance couples applying for the CR1 spouse visa. You’ll have instant access to our in-depth CR1 visa course, online visa case tracker, discussion forums, extensive library of sample documents and letters, a incredible community of other couples applying for the CR1 visa and so much more! Learn more at https://migrantacademy.com

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