Immigrant Visa Processing in London
The immigration visa attorneys at Hodkinson Law Group in London are available to help you file your U.S. visa application. This page outlines the process for filing a permanent immigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy in London.
Applications for Permanent Immigrant Visas
Prior to submitting an immigrant visa application to the Immigrant Visa Unit at the U.S. Embassy in London, a petition for immigrant visa classification must be approved by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The petition can be filed by a close relative who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, by a sponsoring employer or, in certain circumstances, by the applicant.
Once the underlying petition has been approved by the USCIS and the Immigrant Visa Branch of the U.S. Embassy in London has received notification of the petition approval, an immigrant visa application may be processed. When pre-processing of the application for immigrant visa is completed, the applicant will be scheduled to attend their immigrant visa interview at the U.S. Embassy in London.
Upon approval of the immigrant visa application, the applicant is issued an immigrant visa. After the applicant enters the U.S. as an immigrant, a Permanent Resident Card (commonly referred to as a “green card”) will be mailed to the immigrant as evidence of lawful permanent resident status.
Who may apply for an immigrant (permanent) visa at the U.S. Embassy in London?
Any person who is a resident of the UK, or who is in the U.S. and whose last residence prior to entering the U.S. was in the UK, may apply for an immigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy in London. Additionally, a person physically present in the UK may apply for an immigrant visa if they have permission to remain in the UK for the period required to process the application. Finally, at the direction of the Department of State or as a matter of discretion, a U.S. consular officer may accept an immigrant visa application from an applicant who is neither a resident of nor physically present in the UK.
How to Apply for an Immigrant Visa in London
When the USCIS in the U.S. has approved an immigrant visa petition, the approved petition and accompanying documents are forwarded to the Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC). The NVC then sends the applicant or the applicant’s designated representative instructions to pay the required immigrant visa fee. Upon receipt of payment the NVC sends the applicant or representative an “Instruction Package for Immigrant Visa Applicants” with forms that must be completed and returned to the NVC.
To continue the application process, the applicant must indicate that he or she is in possession of all documents that will be required at the time of the immigrant visa interview and provide certain biographic information. Upon receipt of the required forms, the NVC completes its administrative processing, schedules the immigrant visa interview and forwards the applicant’s file to the Immigrant Visa Branch at the U.S. Embassy in London.
If a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130 for parents, spouses and children of U.S. citizens under age 21) is filed with the USCIS Sub Office at the U.S. Embassy in London, the approved petition is then forwarded directly to the Immigrant Visa Branch. The Immigrant Visa Branch then sends the applicant forms that must be completed and returned. The applicant must indicate that he or she is in possession of all documents that will be required at the time of the immigrant visa interview and provide certain biographic information.
When the Immigrant Visa Branch completes its administrative processing, it will send an appointment letter and final forms for completion. On the day of the immigrant visa appointment, the applicant, and any family members applying together, submit(s) their immigrant visa application(s) with required documents, and is (are) interviewed by a U.S. consular officer.
The applicants must undergo a medical examination by the Embassy’s physician prior to the immigrant visa interview. If the applicant is determined to be eligible for an immigrant visa, the visa is usually issued within 48 hours. The applicant’s passport with the immigrant visa will be returned to the applicant by the Embassy’s courier service, Secure-DX.
An immigrant visa is valid for six (6) months from the date of issuance and must be used for entry to the U.S. during this six month period.
Immigrant Visa Medical Examinations
The required medical examination must be performed prior to the applicant’s visa interview by one of two Embassy approved facilities in London. Information regarding the location of the medical center and scheduling are provided to the applicant with the Instruction Package.
Appointments may be made by phoning +44 (0) 20 7584 9458 Monday to Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Applicants must quote their case number (included in the Instruction Package) when scheduling an appointment.
Results of the examination will be sent to the applicant within 5 working days after the exam and it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that the medical exam takes place with sufficient time for the results of the exam to reach the Immigrant Visa Branch prior to the applicant’s interview.
The examination fee is £200 (approximately $317) for applicants 15 and over and £95 (approximately $150) for applicants 14 and under. The fee is payable in cash (Sterling), debit card or by credit card (VISA or MasterCard only) at the time of scheduling the medical appointment. Applicants will be required to present their passports at the time of the examination and to bring one photograph for each applicant. A link to the photograph specifications may be found on our Resource Links page.
There is currently no mechanism in place for expedited delivery of the medical exam results to the Immigrant Visa Branch and it is the policy of the American Embassy that the medical examination must be performed by an Embassy approved physician in the United Kingdom. Applicants should be aware that the medical examination includes an external physical examination in which an applicant’s private areas are physically touched.
UK Police Certificate for Immigrant Visas
The Immigrant Visa Branch requires all applicants to submit a police certificate from the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) issued within six months of the date of the visa interview. This police certificate covers the whole of the United Kingdom and is sent to the address provided at the time of application. The ACPO report can be generated on an expedited basis (for an additional fee) within 2 days. A link to information on obtaining the police certificate may be found on our Resource Links page.
Applicants who have been arrested and/or convicted of a crime must submit their official court records, covering all charges for which the applicant was arrested, regardless of the final disposition of the matter.
The Immigrant Visa Interview
On the day of the pre-scheduled interview, the applicant and any accompanying family members must appear at the Immigrant Visa Branch for their in-person interview. At that time they will submit the visa application form and any required documents prior to being interviewed by a consular officer. If they are found eligible for their immigrant visas, they will be asked to pay any outstanding visa applications and/or issuance fees. Their passports and immigrant visas will be returned to them by the Embassy’s appointed courier service within 2-4 working days.
Applicants should be aware that they have been assigned a scheduled appointment arrival time at the Embassy and that there will most likely be other people present with the same arrival appointment time. Applicants should expect to be at the Embassy for approximately 3-5 hours on the date of the interview and should be aware that the Embassy will refuse admission to people who arrive more than half an hour late for their appointment.
Applicants may not bring luggage, large bags or other items that must be searched and x-rayed, as screening such items slows the entry of all applicants. A list of Left Luggage Storage facilities near the Embassy may be found on our Resource Links page. In addition, mobile phones, PDAs, cameras, and any other electronic devices, including iPods/iPads and remote entry automobile key “fobs” are prohibited inside the Embassy. There is a snack shop which sells drinks, sandwiches and other refreshments.
Attorneys are not permitted to accompany their clients to immigrant visa interviews.
Who may file an immigrant visa petition in London
Generally, a U.S. citizen resident in the UK may file an immigrant visa petition with the USCIS Sub Office at the U.S. Embassy in London on behalf of a spouse, parent or unmarried child under the age of 21. In exceptional circumstances the USCIS officer in London will accept an immigrant visa petition from a U.S. citizen who is not a resident in the UK as long as the sponsored spouse, parent or child is a UK resident. In all other circumstances, the U.S. citizen should file the petition with the appropriate USCIS regional office in the U.S.