December 30, 2021
Consular Processing and Preparing for your Interview
In preparation for your consular interview, be aware that there are several components to it. The interview process is more than just a simple interview with an US Consulate Officer.
It’s a multi-step process that if not done accordingly, it can lead to your case being delayed, or even denied. The following information is a high-level overview of the different appointments you can anticipate and the documents that you may need for each.
Disclaimer: The National Visa Center (NVC) offers consulate specific instructions on how to prepare for your consulate interview. The following information may not apply to your case, please refer to NVC’s website for clearer instructions on how to prepare for your consular interview.
Notifications Before your Consular Interview
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is currently a tremendous backlog of visa interviews that need to be scheduled. Depending on the US Consulate where your interview will take place, the wait for it to be scheduled may be as fast as 6 months but it could be as long as 2 years. Current US consulate operations around the world are very limited, so anticipate to remain in queue for your interview for a long period of time after your case becomes Documentary Qualified.
Case Status Updates
In light of this, the NVC has started sending Documentary Qualified cases, and Case Status Updates periodically to keep Petitioners informed about their cases. You can also check the status of your case through the Visa Status Check website. Expect to receive case status updates until your case is transferred from NVC to the US consulate where your interview will take place.
Your case will receive an Expedite Notice once the NVC has transferred your case to the US Consulate for them to schedule. At this point, the NVC will no longer have your case so NVC will no longer be able to update your DS260 contact information. You will need to contact the US consulate to make any necessary changes to your information. It may take weeks for the US Consulate to schedule your interview but depending on the US Consulate, your case may be scheduled the same week that you receive the Expedite Notice. Use this notice as your signal to start planning your travel arrangements and gathering the necessary documents for the inevitable Consular Interview Appointment Notice.
Disclaimer: Your case may not receive an Expedite Notice. The NVC may send your case to the US consulate to be scheduled without informing you. At any point, you are able to contact the NVC to check if they have transferred your case to the US Consulate.
Consular Interview Appointment Notice
When the US consulate has scheduled your interview, they will send you the notice with the date and time of the interview. Depending on the consulate, you may receive an interview date that is only days before the interview. It is very important that once you receive your interview notice that you read its instructions thoroughly and follow them accordingly to avoid delays to your case. Depending on the US consulate, you may be required to attend varying appointments before your Consular interview. Review your US consulate instructions for the interview to confirm what appointments you need to schedule and attend before your Consulate interview.
Mandatory and Common Appointments for Consular Processing
In addition to your consular interview, expect to attend at least one other appointment as part of your consular process. The following two appointments are the most common mandatory appointments that accompany a consulate interview. Each of these appointments require the principal applicant to take specific steps to schedule the named appointment and take certain documents to complete the appointment appropriately. Missing a step or forgetting certain documents may lead to your visa being delayed. Review the NVC website to review what documents the applicant is required to take to each appointment.
As part of your consular interview process, you are required to schedule and attend a medical exam with a US approved doctor before your consulate interview. For the list of doctors that are qualified to conduct these exams in your country, see the NVC website. The medical examination may include a medical history review, physical examination, chest X-ray, urine and blood tests, and drug test. Testing positive for marijuana or any other illegal drug may result in a significant delay (months) or in a denial of your visa. The medical examination is not a complete physical examination. Its purpose is to screen for certain medical conditions relevant to U.S. immigration law.
As directed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States of America….
- Beginning on October 1, 2018; all immigrant visa applicants whose age is between 2-14 years must provide a blood test for tuberculosis screening.
- Beginning September 3, 2021, all applicants whose age is 18-24 years old must provide a urine sample for gonorrhea screening. Applicants aged less than 18 years or greater than 24 years may be tested if there is a reason to suspect infection with gonorrhea.
- Beginning September 3, 2021, all applicants aged 18-44 years of age must provide a blood sample for syphilis screening.
At the time of posting this blog the US requires all visa applicants to have all the vaccines listed below. It is highly recommended that you take proof of your vaccination history to your exam. Any vaccines that you have not already taken and have proof of, you will need to take and pay for at that time of your medical examination. Vaccine requirements are subject to change at any time, for the most up to date information refer to the CDC website.
Application Support Center (ASC) Appointment
Refer to your US consulate instructions for when you may need to attend or schedule your ASC appointment. Depending on your US Consulate, this appointment may take place on the day of your Consular interview or you may need to schedule and attend this appointment prior to your interview.
Your consular interview will be conducted by a US immigration Officer who will review your case to determine eligibility for the applied visa. Their review process consists of them verifying that the applicant has attended all required appointments prior to the interview, have presented the appropriate Affidavit of Support and Civil documents, and answer questions by consulate officer. Listed below are the most common Civil documents that are required to be presented at the interview. For a complete list of accompanying documents needed for the interview refer to the NVC website or their Pre-interview Checklist.
List of most common Civil documents for interview
- Valid, unexpired passport of Applicant
- Birth certificate of Applicant
- If applicable Marriage Certificate of Applicant
- If applicable divorce decrees of Applicant and Petitioner
- If applicable Criminal Court documents of Applicant
- Affidavit of Support (I-864)
- Petitioners proof of US legal status
Attorney Diana Bailey has over 23 years of experience in the immigration field.