Step by Step Process

Follow the steps below for a step-by-step guide to the immigrant visa process. This section does not apply to fiancée/K visas. See our Fiancée visa section for more information.

Step 1: File a Petition with USCIS

United States citizens and Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) who wish to bring a family member to join them in the United States must file an I-130 petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)

Step 2: National Visa Center (NVC) Case Preparation

After USCIS approves a petition, it forwards the approved file to the National Visa Center (NVC). Delivery and registration in the NVC database can take up to two months, and neither NVC nor this embassy can take any action on a petition until it has been received from USCIS and entered in that database.

Petitions may remain at NVC for several months or years depending on the visa category. When an applicant’s case is about to become current (i.e., the appointment is likely to be available within the year), NVC will coordinate with the applicant regarding the submission of all civil documents, police clearances, affidavits of support, and other key documents.

Therefore, it is important to keep NVC updated as to the most current contact information for both the applicant and the petitioner. Please click here to contact the National Visa Center.

If the priority date (the date the petition was filed) is not current, the NVC will keep the approved petition on file until the priority date is reached.

Click here to learn more about how NVC prepares your case file prior to your interview. NVC will not schedule your appointment until you have submitted all of the requested documents.

Step 3: NVC Appointment Scheduling

Once the National Visa Center (NVC) has received all the documents necessary to complete the visa application, NVC will send the applicant a letter with the time and date of the visa interview.

This letter will also contain instructions on additional steps the applicant must complete prior to attending your appointment. It is important for you to follow the instructions for arranging delivery of your approved visa.

After notifying you of the appointment date and time, NVC will forward all of the documents it collected to the Embassy for use during your interview. All documents the applicant collected in Step 2 will be needed for the visa interview.

Additional Information

If you are unable to attend your scheduled appointment, you should e-mail to obtain instructions on how to reschedule your appointment. Rescheduling an appointment may result in a significant delay in processing your visa case.

Step 4: Create a Profile and Register for Passport Return

If you received a letter from the NVC stating that an appointment has been scheduled for you at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala, you MUST create a profile and register for passport return prior to your immigrant visa appointment.

IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that if you haven’t completed this step by the time of your interview, your case will not be approved.

Please register by following the steps described below:

  1. Go to
  2. Click on “Register” and follow the instructions to create your account.
  3. When prompted, choose the option “I need to register an immigrant visa appointment”, then follow the instructions until you get to the “Schedule Appointments” screen.
  4. On the “Schedule Appointments”, you will see the date and time of the original appointment assigned by the National Visa Center (NVC).
  5. Please follow these steps for any members of your family listed on the NVC appointment letter. NOTE: Even if your family members are not unable to attend this initial interview, they will be unable to schedule a future appointment if you do not register them today.
  6. Please visit the website of the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City to learn how to prepare for your Immigrant Visa interview:

– Click on the link for “Packet 4” (PDF – 376KB)

NOTE: For further information and support about the registration and scheduling process, please contact in Guatemala: (502)2376-1978, in the United States: 1(703)745-5477.

Step 5: The Medical Examination

All immigrant visa applicants must undergo a medical examination before receiving a visa.

After you receive your appointment date from the NVC, we suggest you schedule your medical examination between one month and a few days before your visa interview date. Please do not attempt to schedule your medical appointment until you have received instructions from NVC or this embassy.

Most applicants will be given their medical exam results to hand carry to the embassy. In some case, however, the doctor will send your results directly to the Embassy. If you are given your medical exam to carry to the Embassy DO NOT open the sealed envelope. If you open the medical exam, you will be required to schedule and pay for a new medical exam.

Special note about TB testing

  • If you test positive for Tuberculosis, you will be subject to additional testing. You will receive further instructions from the Medical clinic staff and/or the embassy.

During the medical exam, it is important to give complete and honest answers to all of the questions asked. If you have previously been arrested for any reason in Guatemala, the United States or any other country, you should bring the documents relating to those arrests to the medical examination. If, during the course of your visa interview, the Embassy discovers you left out or misrepresented medical information, you will have to schedule and pay for a new medical exam.

Additional Information: Medical Examination Instructions  (PDF – 230KB)

Remember, during the entire visa application and interview process, you must tell the truth and give complete and accurate information. If you do not, your visa will be delayed or you may be found ineligible for a visa that you may have qualified for otherwise.

Step 6: The Day of the Interview

On the day of your interview, all visa applicants should enter via the applicant entrance on 7th Street, following the blue line (for immigrant visas). Please do not arrive more than 30 minutes before your scheduled appointment. Your place in line will not be determined by the order you arrive. It is not necessary to arrive in the pre-dawn hours to get in line.

The following people may accompany the visa applicant to the interview:

  • Petitioner
  • Interpreters – an applicant may bring one interpreter if he or she does not speak English or Spanish well enough to participate unassisted in the visa interview
  • Special Needs Visitors – applicants may bring one person to help if they are elderly, disabled or if the applicant is a minor child applying for a visa.
  • If you have a medical or other condition requiring a wheelchair or a special accommodation, please alert the greeters/guards to your needs as you enter the building.

Due to the limited size of our waiting room and the high volume of visa applicants, accompanying persons others than those listed above, will generally not be admitted to the Embassy. Drivers, friends, extra relatives and others not specifically named above cannot be permitted to enter and will be asked to wait outside of the Embassy to meet the applicant after the interview. Attorneys will NOT be permitted to accompany anyone into the waiting room or to the interview.

Dress appropriately for the weather. The Embassy waiting area is outside the building where there is no heat or air conditioning. You will not be allowed to bring in food or drinks.

To enter the compound, all persons must go through an airport-security type of screening. Click to see the list of items that are prohibited in the Embassy. (PDF 110 KB) The Embassy does not provide lockers or storage bins for personal items. Any person refusing to comply with all security screening procedures will be denied entry into the compound.

NOTE: Any fees for visa services while in Guatemala are only collected inside the medical clinics or within the Embassy. Neither the medical clinics nor the Embassy collect fees outside – do not pay any fees except at the cashier inside the doctor’s office, at the recommended laboratory, or Embassy.

Individuals at public notary offices, internet café’s, local hotels or other locations do not work for the Embassy or medical clinics. For accurate information about your visa case, please contact

Remember, during the entire visa application and interview process, you must tell the truth and give complete and accurate information. If you do not, your visa will be delayed or you may be found ineligible for a visa that you may have qualified for otherwise.

Step 7: The Visa Adjudication

  • If your visa is approved, you will not receive the visa at the interview; instead, you will receive your packet at the previously selected Cargo Expreso courier office. If you have not selected an office, please access: to create a profile and choose a Cargo Expreso courier office location where you would like to receive your visa. Additionally, you will receive information regarding a USCIS processing fee for the permanent resident card which must be paid prior to traveling to the United States with your immigrant visa. Please follow the instructions provided to make your payment.
  • If you are found to be ineligible for a visa, you will be given a refusal letter with the specific reason(s) why you were ineligible. If there is a waiver available for the ineligibility, you will be given instructions on how to apply for a waiver. Not all visa ineligibilities have a waiver.
  • Sometimes, additional administrative processing of your visa application is needed. This additional processing can delay the final adjudication of the application. In these cases, the consular officer will explain the situation and you will be given a letter with instructions on how to proceed.
  • An officer may request additional documents in order to adjudicate your case. In this case, you will receive a letter from the officer at the end of the interview outlining which documents are required and how to send them to the Embassy for review.
  • If your medical exam was not ready for the day of your interview, the consular officer will put your case on hold until your medical exam results are received. In some cases, the clinic may give the results to you to send to the Embassy directly via Cargo Expreso. Do NOT open the sealed packet or you will need to retake the exam.

Step 8: After You Receive Your Visa

  • You will receive your visa and a sealed packet from the Cargo Expreso office you previously selected. The only notification you will receive that your visa is available for pick up is an email sent to the email address you provided at the time you created your profile and registered. You must collect your visa from the Cargo Expreso office within 10 days of the notification. There is no fee to collect your visa and documents from Cargo Expreso. Your visa will be affixed inside your passport. You must carefully read the information contained both on the visa itself and in the cover letter taped to the sealed packet. Make sure this information is correct; if it is not, contact our call center immediately by email at or by phone at (502)2376-1978 to make an appointment to have your visa fixed. Do not open the sealed visa packet. You must carry it unopened to an Immigration Officer at your first Port-Of-Entry.
  • Once you receive your immigrant visa, please review the expiration date. You must enter the United States within the timeframe specified on the visa to obtain a legal permanent resident (LPR) or “green” card (Form I-151 or I-551) that will allow you to live and work in the United States.
  • Prior to traveling to the United States, you must pay the permanent resident card fee with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). For more information, please visit USCIS immigrant fee.
  • At the port-of-entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection official will stamp your passport and make a notation that you are registered for a long-term permanent resident (LPR) card. You will have an opportunity at the port-of-entry to confirm the mailing address where you would like to receive your LPR card.
  • It may take several months for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to process and send your LPR card to you. Until you receive your LPR card, you may travel to/from the United States by showing your immigrant visa and the stamp from Customs and Border Protection. You may travel using these documents instead of your LPR card for one year from the date of your initial admission. However, some airlines may not accept this document as evidence of legal status, and you may be required to present a boarding letter issued by USCIS in Guatemala.

Remember, during the entire visa application and interview process, you must tell the truth and give complete and accurate information. If you do not, your visa will be delayed or you may be found ineligible for a visa that you may have qualified for otherwise.