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Ask the Consul – December 2022
December 19, 2022

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Question: My sister who resides in the United States submitted paperwork several years ago for me to receive a green card.  How can I receive an update, and when can I expect an interview? Any assistance will be appreciated. 


Answer: The principle of family reunification is one of the highest goals of the immigration and visa program worldwide.

There are two parts to the process, the petition and the visa, and there can be several years between both.

Obtaining an immigrant visa starts with a family member in the United States filing a petition on behalf of a relative applicant.  In your case, the family relationship makes you initially eligible to receive an immigrant visa.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) initially approves the petition.  Then the petition goes to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing and fee payments.  Finally, the documents come to the U.S. Embassy.  However, most petitions do not move directly to this stage.  There are annual numerical limits for most immigrant visa categories, and it can take several years until the petition gets its “turn” to become a visa application.  Each petition has a “priority date” based on when USCIS approved the petition.  NVC begins processing visa applications when the petition’s priority date comes due, which can take up to several years depending on the visa class.

When the priority date begins to approach, NVC will initiate processing by providing information packets to you, the beneficiary, at various stages in the preparation process and by requesting additional supporting documents.  Some of the supporting documents must come from your sister, the petitioner.

Please ensure that the petitioner, your U.S. family member, reports to NVC any changes of U.S. address or contact information to ensure that they can receive information packets and instructions in a timely manner.  Petitioners can provide updates by phone at +1 (603) 334-0700.

You can also check the status of your application online by entering the petition receipt number at egov.uscis.gov .

In preparation for your interview at the Embassy, you, and each qualified family member immigrating with you, must complete a DS-260 visa application form with current information.  At the interview, a Consular Officer will review your case for any potential ineligibility which may include legal, medical, and financial matters.

Original documents to demonstrate your relationship to the petitioner are required at the interview, so please ensure documents such as passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, divorce decrees, and immunization records are updated and secured in a safe place.

Please ensure the names on birth certificates and all legal documents are spelled properly and correctly.  If there is an error in your name or you have subsequently used a name other than the one on the birth certificate, please bring the oldest version of a birth affidavit or dead poll.

You will also be required to upload your documents to the electronic processing system.  Make sure the original documents presented at the interview match the documents uploaded.  If you receive a new original document, be sure to update the uploaded image as well.

The new polymer versions of the Trinidad and Tobago birth and marriage certificates are required.  More important, please read and follow all instructions provided.

Additional information on the process is available at www.uscis.gov.  For case specific inquires, please send an email to PTSIV@state.gov, and remember to provide the full names of the beneficiaries, petitioner, case number, and a daytime phone number along with your question.