After the I-130 – Consular processing

Last update: May 6, 2019

The sponsor filed an I-130 for a family-based applicants living abroad.  What is next? First, there is the processing of the application by the U.S.-based operations of USCIS:

  • During the “intake” USCIS opens the application, makes sure that the key elements such as fees are present, and puts it into queue
  • At some point, an adjudicating officer will get to the application and review the I-130 form and the supporting documents
  • The adjudicating officer may request additional evidence if he or she thinks that additional evidence or documentation is needed

When the I-130 is approved (hopefully!) by the adjudicating officer, the applicant’s file is transferred to the National Visa Center (NVC). There are two options here:

  • If the applicant is an immediate relative of a U.S. citizens, or if the applicant’s priority date is close to being ‘current’, then the NVC sends a ‘welcome letter’ to the applicant.
  • If the applicant is eligible for a family-based preference, and has a priority date that will not become ‘current’ any time soon, then the NVC sends a letter simply stating that it has received the applicant’s file from USCIS

The ‘welcome letter’ contains information that allows the applicant to pay the fees associated with the next phase of the process (the detailed application, which revolves around an online form called DS-260). Applicants need to pay the fees to start this phase.