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Frequently Asked Questions
  • How long does it take to get my visa after the visa interview?

    Each case is different.  If the case is complete on the day of the interview and requires no administrative processing, it could be issued within two weeks.  However, most cases require additional administrative processing.  This can take months.

  • I recently realized that some of the information on my visa petition is incorrect and/or incomplete. What should I do?

    If your visa petition is currently at the National Visa Center (NVC), please send an email to  You may also write to them -- The National Visa Center, 32 Rochester Avenue, Portsmouth NH 03801-2909, or fax them at 603-334-0791.  When contacting NVC, please be sure to always include your case number or your USCIS receipt number.  If you have been notified that your visa petition was sent to Embassy Baghdad, please contact us

  • How long will I have to travel to the U.S. once the immigrant visa is issued?

    Immigrant and fiancée visas are normally valid for six months. Visas issued to persons with specific medical conditions or persons subject to additional processing requirements may be limited to less than six months. Most Special Immigrant Visas are valid for three months.

    The expiration date is listed on your visa. You must enter the United States by this date. Remember that it may take more than one day to reach the United States from Iraq.

    Under rare circumstances, we may let you apply for another visa if you cannot travel within the validity of your first visa.  You will probaby have to pay all fees again, and may need to obtain a new medical exam. We do not guarantee that we will reissue your visa.  You may have to start the entire process over at the beginning, including having to file a new petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

  • Where can I find information on preparing my trip to the U.S. and settling in once I get there?

    The Department of Homeland Security maintains some very useful web sites.

    • has lots of information on getting settled into the United States, including housing, schooling, employment, government benefits, naturalization and more.
    • Customs and Border Protection has a useful Know Before You Go page.  Some of the information is aimed at people who already live in the United States, so please read carefully to find what applies to you.
  • My spouse or parent immigrated to the U.S. I was included on the petition but opted to remain in Iraq. How do I find out if I am eligible to apply for follow-to-join status?

    The spouse and children of someone who immigrated to the U.S. may be entitled to obtain an immigrant visa on the same visa petition.  If you would like to see if you are eligible for follow-to-join status, please send us:

    • Proof that the principal applicant entered the United States (a copy of his/her green card or passport entry stamp;
    • A copy of your birth certificate or marriage certificate showing your relationship to the permanent resident;
    • The name of the applicant(s); and
    • All relevant contact email address and telephone numbers.  

    Once the Immigrant Visa Unit has determined you are eligible for follow-to-join status, we will contact you and provide instructions on how to apply for the visas.

  • My spouse/parent has been granted asylum or refugee status in the U.S. How can I get permission to join him/her?

    If your immediate relative has already been granted asylum, he/she may be able to apply for permission for you to join them in the U.S.  For details, see the USCIS website.

  • I want to apply for Chief of Mission approval. Where do I send my application and documents?

    The deadline to apply for Chief of Mission approval, the first step in the SIV application process, was September 30, 2014. Applications submitted after this date cannot be accepted or processed.

  • I am a translator for the U.S. military. May I translate my own documents?

    No.  All foreign language documents must be accompanied by a certified English translation.  The translation can only be completed by an authorized official translator and not by the applicant or a friend. 


  • How can I reschedule my interview appointment?

    If your file is still with the National Visa Center, you may send a request to reschedule to for SIVs or for all other immigrant visas.  If you have been notified that your file has arrived at the Embassy in Baghdad, contact us.  Please explain why you need to have your appointment rescheduled and give an estimated date of when you would be available to come for the interview.  There is no guarantee that we can reschedule you at your desired time and you may have to wait several months for an appointment slot to open.

  • My contact person in the States has moved or redeployed. How do I can change my point of contact’s information?

    You can change your contact’s information either during your interview by telling the officer or by contacting us.  If we have already issued your visa, please tell the immigration officer at the airport when you enter the States that you wish to change your contact information.

  • I would like to apply for resettlement assistance. How do I request resettlement benefits?

    Special Immigrant Visas applicants are able to receive resettlement assistance.  If you elect to use the resettlement benefits, you will be linked with an agency in the U.S.  Please note that while you can express a view about where you might be resettled, there is no guarantee that you will be given your preference.  The International Organization for Migration (IOM) will contact you to arrange your travel and give you a departure date.  In the United States, IOM representatives will assist you at the port of entry and help you with immigration and customs procedures.  When you reach your final destination, a representative from the resettlement agency will meet you at the airport, take you to your initial housing and assist you in settling in to your new community.

    If you are interested in obtaining resettlement assistance, you should indicate your decision by returning the Refugee Benefits Election Form with your signature to the National Visa Center (NVC) as soon as possible but no later than 10 days after your visa issuance date.  The scanned form can be sent to    The form and other information on the resettlement process can be found here.

  • My daughter/son is over 21 years old. Is there any way that she/he can be issued an immigrant visa?

    In most cases, children of visa applicants are eligible to derive status from a petition only while they are under the age of 21.  However, some children who are over 21 are eligible to benefit from the Child Status Protection Act of 2002, thereby allowing them to be included in the family's visa applications.  Please contact us so we may review your file.

  • I am applying for an immigrant visa and I have a new baby. Can I add my child to my application? What if I am expecting to have a baby after the immigrant visa is issued?

    It depends on the category of visa.

    If your child's mother or father is an American citizen, your child may be a U.S. citizen.  Please contact the American Citizens Services Unit for additional information.  If your child is not a U.S. citizen, your child may derive status from your immigrant visa petition.  You should tell the Immigrant Visa Unit about the birth of your child.

    If your child is born after we have issued your immigrant visa, your child may not need a visa to accompany you to the U.S.  The Immigrant Visa Unit can prepare a letter for your child that can be presented to the Immigration Officer in the U.S.

  • I'm divorced and applying for an immigrant visa. Do I require permission from my ex spouse to take my child out of the country?

    If both parents listed on the child's birth certificate are not immigrating to the U.S., you must either present proof that you have been awarded sole custody of the child by a court or present notarized permission from your former spouse for the child to immigrate to the U.S.  If your former spouse has died, please present his/her death certificate at your interview.

  • I am an American citizen resident in Iraq and I have no intention of moving back to the U.S. anytime soon. Should I file a petition for my foreign born spouse anyway?

    No. Immigrant Visas are for people who intend to reside in the U.S.  The U.S. citizen petitioner will have to demonstrate that he or she is in the process of transferring residence back to the U.S. during the visa interview.

  • Can I transmit citizenship to my spouse?

    No.  A U.S. citizen cannot directly transmit citizenship to a spouse.  However, you can petition for an immigrant visa for your spouse if you both intend to live in the U.S. together.  Your spouse will, in most cases, be eligible to apply for naturalization (U.S. citizenship) after residing in the U.S. for three years.

  • I am married to more than one person. Can I sponsor my second or third spouse to immigrate to the U.S.?

    No.  Under U.S. law, a person may only be married to one person at a time.  Therefore, only the first spouse may qualify as a spouse for immigration.

  • I have a partner/common-law spouse who is an U.S. citizenI have a partner/ common-law spouse who is an U.S. citizen.

    U.S. immigration law does not recognize common-law marriages.  A U.S. citizen cannot file an immigrant visa petition for a partner in the immediate relative category or a fiancée visa petition.  You may opt to apply for an immigrant visa in one of the employment based preference categories or through the Diversity Visa Program.

  • Can I travel to the U.S. while my application for an immigrant visa is being processed?

    If you intend to take up permanent residence in the U.S., you are required to wait until the immigrant or fiancée visa is issued.  You cannot reside in the U.S. on a tourist visa while waiting for the issuance of an immigrant or fiancée visa.  However, if you wish to make a temporary visit to the U.S. and then return to Iraq (or your permanent residence outside the U.S.), you may be eligible to travel on a tourist visa.  Please see our Non-Immigrant Visa webpage for details.

  • Should I use my married name for I-130 petition?

    If you would like to use your married name in the U.S., you may use your married name on the I-130.  Please make sure to amend your passport to your married name before your immigrant visa interview.  The name on your visa must match the name on your passport.

  • I am a U.S. citizen, do I need to attend for the visa interview?

    No.  Please make sure to give all your documents (affidavit of support, tax returns, evidence of assets, and proof of employment) to your spouse/fiancée, so that he/she can present them along with other required documents at the final interview.

  • After the final interview, how long does she/he need to wait for the visa?

    Many cases require administrative processing after the visa interview.  Once an applicant has attended the interview and all administrative processing has been completed, the applicant should receive the passport containing the visa and related documentation within one to two weeks. 

  • My American citizen fiancée is sponsoring me for immigration, does it matter where we get married?

    If you wish to marry in the U.S. and live there after the marriage, you need a fiancée visa.  If you wish to marry outside the United States and travel to the United States to take up residence, you will require an immigrant visa.

  • My fiancée and I are planning to get married in the States but we have not set a date. Is there a deadline for us to get married if we apply for a fiancée visa?

    Under the terms of a fiancée visa, the visa applicant must get married within 90 days after entering the U.S. 

  • Can my fiancée work in the U.S. before we marry?

    USCIS may grant permission for your fiancée to work in the U.S. before the marriage takes place.  To obtain employment authorization, your fiancée will need to file form I-765 with the USCIS Service Center which covers his/her place of residence in the U.S.  Questions concerning employment should be directed to USCIS.

  • My fiancée is still married. Can we apply for a fiancée visa?

    No. You cannot file the fiancée visa petition (I-129F) until you are both legally free to marry.  That means all prior marriages must have ended by divorce or death.

  • We only wish to travel to the U. S. for our wedding. We will return to Iraq after marriage. Do we still need a fiancée visa?

    No. Someone who plans to travel to the U.S. to get married and then return to his/her place of permanent residence abroad should apply for a visitor visa.  You may wish to carry evidence of a residence abroad to which you intend to return, so that you can present this to an immigration inspector in the U.S.  Please see the Embassy’s Non-Immigrant Visa website for details.

  • Can I enter on a fiancée visa, marry and then leave the U. S. for our honeymoon?

    You should contact USCIS for further information.  If you leave the U.S. without first obtaining permission to re-enter the country, you will be required to apply for an immigrant visa in order to return.  This could delay your return by many months.

  • I am a U.S. citizen, do I need to attend the fiancée visa interview?

    No.  Please make sure to give all your documents (affidavit of support, tax returns, evidence of assets, and proof of employment) to your fiancée, so that he/she can present them along with other required documents at the final interview.

  • How long can I remain outside the United States with my Permanent Resident Card (green card)? What if I have been outside the United States for longer than twelve months?

    Legal Permanent Residents are usually allowed to remain outside the United States for no longer than one year.  If you have a valid re-entry permit (PDF 113 KB) issued by the USCIS, you must return to the U.S. before the permit expires. You should be aware, however, that the final determination on your eligibility for admission into the U.S. rests with the Homeland Security officials at the port of entry.  

    If you don't have a valid re-entry permit and you have been outside the U.S. for more than 12 months or your re-entry permit has expired, you will require a new immigrant visa to re-enter the United States to resume your residence there.  You may qualify for a Returning Resident Visa if you intended to return in time and were delayed due to reasons beyond your control.

  • I have an interview scheduled at the Embassy but I do not have access to the International Zone

    Can you assist me with obtaining permission to enter the International Zone?

    If you require assistance entering the International Zone to reach the Embassy in connection with an immigrant, special immigrant or permanent resident service, please send an email to  The email should include your case number, the full names of all the individuals requiring access to the Embassy, the date that you require escort assistance, and a brief description of what type of business you have at the Embassy (such as visa interview, pick up passport, drop off documents, etc.)  Emails must be received at least 48 hours prior to the date that you desire to access the Embassy.

  • Where can I find information about obtaining police certificates and court records?

    The information is on the Department of State's website -- click on the first letter of the country, select the country, and look under "Police Record".  Immigrant visa and fiancée visa applicants must apply for a police certificate from their country of birth and from their current country of residence.  We also require police certificates from any country that you lived in for more than twelve months after the age of 16.  If you have prior criminal or civil convictions, please be prepared to submit court records upon request.  Such court records must show the nature of the offense(s) committed, the section(s) of law contravened and the actual penalty imposed and be accompanied by an official English language translation.

  • I recently changed my contact information. How do I notify the Embassy of my mailing address, phone number or email?

    Please contact us with the new information