The day the notice comes scheduling the visa interview for an applicant whose I-526 petition has been approved is a very exciting one. Many applicants wait for years following USCIS’ approval for their Priority Dates to become current on the Visa Bulletin. The visa interview is essentially the final step in getting the green card for an applicant outside the United States; after the immigrant visa is approved and the passport returned, the applicant can enter the United States with the immigrant visa and trigger Lawful Permanent Resident status.
Visa applicants should prepare thoroughly to make sure the interview goes smoothly. The interviewing officer at the U.S. consular post will generally cover three main areas: biographical information, information on the EB-5 investment, and any information that could cause the applicant to be ineligible for an immigrant visa.
Biographical Information: The documents submitted to the National Visa Center prior to the interview should include information on the primary applicant’s dependents, including their marriage certificates and birth certificates. Applicants should review these documents and bring the originals to the interview. Applicants may be asked to explain and provide evidence related to prior marriages or divorces. The prior submission to the NVC should also include a police certificate for each applicant aged 16 or older from his/her country of nationality (if he/she resided there for at least 6 months since turning at least 16 years of age), country of residence (if he/she resided there for at least 6 months since turning at least 16 years of age), country of previous residence (if he/she resided there for at least 1 year since turning at least 16 years of age), and any country in which he/she was arrested (at any age, having resided there for any timeframe). The police certificate requirements do not apply to present and former residents of the United States. Because police certificates expire after one year, unless a certificate is from an applicant’s country of previous residence and he/she has not returned since the certificate was issued, a new, current police certificate must be obtained for his/her visa interview. In addition, all applicants must provide results from medical exams conducted by an authorized physician. Each consular post has its own specific requirements regarding the exam.
EB-5 Investment Information: The primary applicant must be prepared to discuss the EB-5 investment, including the source of funds for the investment. The applicant should be able to explain how he/she lawfully obtained the funds and transferred them to the LLC in the United States. The applicant should be able to describe, at least broadly, the project that received the funds, and he/she should bring to the interview evidence of their EB-5 funds received into, and subsequently disbursed from, the escrow account for the LLC. While the consular officer at the local post is not charged with re-adjudicating the I-526 petition (as the interview is in fact based on the petition’s approval by USCIS), officers will often engage in significant questioning regarding the investment, particularly if the funds were not invested in a project sponsored by a regional center.
Ineligibility Information: Like at all interviews for U.S. visas – both immigrant and nonimmigrant – the officer will examine the application for evidence of ineligibility. The officer will review the DS-260 applications submitted to the NVC and consult the supporting documentation to ensure accuracy and eliminate fraud. The officer will also review each applicant’s U.S. immigration history. It is important that each family member is prepared to present evidence related to his/her own history, such as approval notices for nonimmigrant visas filed with USCIS, Employment Authorization Document cards, and Forms I-20 pursuant to F-1 student visas. Issues of ineligibility may arise due to former communist party membership or previous arrests. When this occurs, the immigrant visa application may be placed in administrative processing so the officer can conduct a background check or can review additional information required. It is important to consider any possible issues of ineligibility under the Immigration and Nationality Act and be well prepared to address them at the interview.
EB-5 immigrant visa applicants should not assume their visas will be approved just because their I-526 petitions have been approved. Experienced immigration attorneys can assist in not only preparing the application packet to the NVC, but also preparing the applicants themselves for the interview.