How to Start the Immigration Process at the Immigration Office

If you are not an American citizen but wish to live in the United States, there are a number of ways to make that happen. To begin the immigration process, you must obtain an immigrant visa. 

Here at Clearwater Law Group, we strive to help those looking to be in the U.S. legally get here in the safest, best way possible (and ensure no paperwork is left undone).

Below, you will learn the general steps to obtain an immigrant visa, and legally enter the United States.

How to Start the Immigration Process

Per Travel.State.Gov, there is a 12-step process to apply for an immigrant visa:

  1. Submit a petition. (Sponsor must submit this)
  2. National Visa Center (NVC) Processing (Processing may take some time)
  3. Pay fees. (Application processing fee, Affidavit of Support processing fee)
  4. Affidavit of Support (signed document affirming financial support for the applicant)
  5. Financial Documents (supporting affidavit of support)
  6. Online Application (Applicant(s) submit their Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration)
  7. Civil Documents (each applicant must collect civil documents from their country of origin. I.e. birth certificates, adoption certificates, etc.)
  8. Scan documents. (scan original or certified copies of all required civil and financial documents)
  9. Submit documents. (Submit all scanned documents – preferred file formats are PDF, jpg, or jpeg. All files must be 2MB or less).
  10. Interview Preparation (Schedule your interview, and make sure you have all required physical documents)
  11. Applicant Interview (Show up on time, or reschedule if you cannot make your appointed time. Make sure to bring all your documents)
  12. After the Interview (Your application will either be approved or denied. If approved, you have up to 6 months to enter the US).

Family members (sponsors) who live in the U.S. legally can file a Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) on your behalf. If you are coming here for work, your employer will need to file a Form I-140 (Petition for Alien Worker). In some situations, the filing can be done from another country, though it is less common.

Next, USCIS will approve or deny the petition. If it is approved, you can move onto processing the application with the National Visa Center.

Common Forms

In addition to Forms I-130 and I-140, the following forms are often used in the immigration process:

Hire an immigration lawyer.

Immigration lawyers, such as ourselves, can help you navigate the complex processes and paperwork involved with gaining an immigrant visa. We can also provide detailed answers to questions such as:

  • What are the next steps in the immigrant visa process?
  • How long is the U.S. immigration visa processing time?
  • How can I immigrate to the U.S. without a job offer?
  • What is the process on how to get a green card?

…And more.

Call us at 509-316-2604 to schedule an appointment.

You can also:

Make an appointment at the immigration office.

Meeting with an immigration office can make the immigration process much smoother. Most offices give you an option to schedule a phone call so that you can ask questions no matter where you reside.


Entering the U.S. on an immigrant visa for the first time is a lot less stressful if everything is done right. The immigration process starts with filing a petition with the USCIS. From there, your application will await approval before you continue onto the next steps. If you hope to apply for a green card eventually, getting an immigrant visa first is a prerequisite. Need a hand in the immigration process but not sure who to contact? Clearwater Law Group’s experienced immigration attorneys are currently accepting new immigration cases. Get in touch with our legal office today to schedule a free phone consultation.