Ask the Consul — December 2021

Question: My U.S. citizen sister filed for me to move and join her in the United States and my priority date is approaching. What do I need to do before I come in for the interview? How long does the processing time take?

Answer: Immigration is a cherished principle in the United States. We know that the wait between your petition’s approval and your interview at the Embassy has been long, and we hope to reunite you with your family member as soon as possible.

Each petition has a “priority date” based on when U.S. Customs and Immigration Services approved the petition. When the priority date approaches, the National Visa Centre (NVC) will initiate processing by providing information packets to the beneficiary or petitioner at various stages in the preparation process and requesting additional supporting documents. You can track your priority date on the Visa Bulletin posted at travel.state.gov. For example, if you have an F4 immigrant visa petition, the Visa Bulletin priority date is March 22, 2007. This means that if your petition’s priority date is on or before March 22, 2007, the visa process may begin and NVC will schedule your interview and transfer your file to the Embassy. You can also check the status of your application online by entering the petition receipt number at egov.uscis.gov.

To prepare for your interview at the Embassy, immigrant visa applicants and their qualified family member(s) must first complete a DS-260 visa application form. Once an interview has been scheduled, please make sure to bring all original civil documents such as birth certificates, name affidavits, marriage certificates, and divorce decrees for yourself, the petitioner, and qualified family member(s) with you at the interview. You must also complete your medical exam with our panel physician and bring with you a police certificate of character for every country where you have lived.

For documents produced in Trinidad and Tobago, such as birth, marriage, or death certificates, please bring the polymer version to the interview. After the NVC transfers the case to the Embassy and you have case-specific inquires, you may email PTSIV@state.gov, and include the beneficiary’s surname, given name, and case number (PTS number) in the subject line.

In preparation for your interview, please walk with a clear plastic pouch containing your documents. Bags, including purses, backpacks, briefcases, diaper bags, and luggage are prohibited, as are liquids, weapons, and all electronic devices such as cameras, cell phones, and laptops. Please leave these items at home or make arrangements for their storage before arriving at the Embassy.