Procedures after Approval
Step-by-Step Instructions on Procedures after I-526 Approval
After I-526 is approved and a visa number is available, you and your family can apply for conditional permanent residency through adjustment of status by filing the I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence) if you are in the United States. If you and your family are currently abroad, you will need to apply and obtain your immigrant visa through a US consulate in your home country, known as consular processing.
If you chose the option to adjust status on the I-526 but later decide to proceed with consular processing, you will need to notify the USCIS by filing form I-824 – Applicant for Action on an Approved Application or Petition, pay appropriate fees, in order for the USCIS to send your file to the National Visa Center to prepare for overseas consular processing. If your I-526 indicated consular processing but later on you are available to adjust status in the United States, all you will need to do is file for I-485. Once USCIS receives your I-485, it will request the file back from the NVC.
Adjustment of Status
1. Adjust your status
To adjust your status from a nonimmigrant to that of an immigrant, you will need to file I-485 with the USCIS, it will then determine your eligibility for permanent residency. At the same time of your filing of I-485 and if you are in the age range of 14-79, you will also be asked to pay a fee for biometrics-fingerprinting. USCIS requires green card and naturalization applicants to be fingerprinted in order for FBI to conduct criminal background checks. You may concurrently file I-765 (Application for Employment Authorization) and I-131 (Application for Travel Document) with your I-485. It generally takes 3 months for you to receive your Employment Authorization Card with the text that reads, “Serve as I-512 Advance Parole.” A card with this text will serve as both an employment authorization and advance parole document. This document allows you to work and travel outside of the United States before your I-485 approval.
The documents you need to submit to USCIS along with the I-485 application are standard civil documents, e.g. birth certificate, marriage certificate, passport biographic data page, etc. You will also need to pass a medical examination conducted by a USCIS approved civil surgeon, and enclose the sealed envelope in the submission package. It takes approximately 6 to 12 months for USCIS to process most I-485 that result in approval. However, there are times when these applications can be denied on the basis of criminal convictions, possession of certain communicable diseases, or serious immigration law violations. If your I-485 is approved, you will become a conditional permanent resident in the United States.
2. National Visa Center
National Visa Center (NVC) processes all immigrant visa petitions after they are approved by the USCIS in order to ensure these petitions are handled at the correct time, it also retains the files until the cases are ready for adjudication by overseas consulate general.
Once NVC receives your approved visa petition, you and your legal counsel will receive notification to pay the immigrant visa fee online. The fees must be paid via Automated Clearing House (ACH) debit transaction through a checking account, not by credit card, and payments are usually posted within 5 business days. When you verify the immigrant visa fee is paid, you may complete your online Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application (DS-260). Please note the information required to complete DS-260 is quite extensive, you should start gathering the information as early as possible. After the DS-260 is complete, you can prepare your file for submission to NVC. You must put NVC Case Number Barcode Sheet as coversheet, include your DS-260 payment receipt, the DS-260 confirmation, 2 passport-sized photos along with copies of civil documents, e.g. marriage certificate, passport biographic data, police certificate, etc. Not all files are processed in paper form, some cases must be submitted to NVC electronically. This information is available through NVC website, The Immigrant Visa Process Section, Step 6: Submit Documents to the NVC. Due to the enormous volume of mail NVC receives, sometimes over 10,000 pieces a day, if your case is processed via mail, you should send the package via “signature required” for tracking purposes.
Within a week of NVC’s receipt of your package, you should receive a standard 30-day file review letter. When the 30 days are up, NVC will notify you that your file is either ready or further action is required. If your file is complete, you will now wait for your priority date to become current before NVC can schedule your interview with the consulate general abroad. If further action is required, you will need to determine whether documents need to be sent to NVC or be brought to the interview. The NVC notification letter is very unclear, and you must review it carefully. For example, the letter may state that your file is being sent to the consulate general for processing under one listed item, but the same language may not appear under another item. If said language is not in place, the missing and/or update-required items must be sent to the NVC for review first, wait for another 30 days for file review, before you will be notified of the next step.
Interview letters are sent by NVC to you. However, interview dates are provided to NVC by overseas consulate general. Each month, consulate generals worldwide will send to NVC available interview dates. Cases that are complete with priority dates current will be matched with said available dates to generate specific interview dates. For I-526 cases, the turnaround time for an interview letter is approximately 60 days.
3. Consulate General Interview
Your interview date and time are set 4-6 weeks from the date of the interview letter. To prepare for the interview, you will need to complete the medical examination process. Consulate general interview instructions will have a list of approved health care provider(s). You need to make an appointment, acquire all prior medical records, e.g. x-rays, vaccinations, etc., before you are ready for the immigrant medical examination. Most health care providers will have results ready between 5-7 business days. However, if there are findings from the initial examination, results will be further delayed. Therefore, if you have a minor child currently attending school in the United States, you should notify your attorney to make a Leave of Absence request with the school, on behalf of your child, for a period of not less than 3 weeks, in order for your child to return home and prepare for the interview amply. Please do not open the medical results envelope; it must be brought to the interview in its sealed state. You will also need to gather all civil documents that were previously submitted to USCIS and NVC, make a duplicate copy of each original civil document that you are bringing to the interview, the original is for you to present to the immigration officer, the duplicate copy is for the officer to keep in your file. Your attorney will prepare you for the interview and also provide you with the updated letters from the EB-5 project you invested in, for you to present to the immigration officer at the interview, to prove that your investment capital has been applied to the project, and the current progress of the project.
4. Admission to the United States
Once you have passed your interview, you will receive notification from the consulate general the status of your immigrant visa package in 3 business days. Delivery methods are either by mail or in person pickup. The immigrant visa package is usually ready within 7 business days. The package contains your passport with your immigrant visa, which is placed on a page in your passport, and a sealed immigrant packet that you must present to U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer, unopened and sealed, at a port-of-entry upon your arrival in the United States. You must apply for admission to the United States within 6 months. In order to receive your conditional permanent resident card within 120 days upon arrival, you should go online to pay the USCIS the immigrant fee for green card printing, prior to departing for the United States. According to Social Security Administration, if you are over 18 years of age, if social security card was applied for during DS-260 application, Department of State and U.S. Department of Homeland Security will share your information with Social Security Administration, you do not need to complete any forms to apply, and you should receive your social security card within 3 weeks after arrival. Persons between the ages of 12-18 must appear in person at the Social Security Administration to apply.