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Family Immigration

Family Based Immigration

The Immigration and Nationality Act allows for the immigration of foreigners to the United States based on relationship to a US citizen or legal permanent resident. The purpose of this is to re-unite family members in the United States. If the United States citizen does not plan to live in the United States, he/she cannot request a visa for other family members.

Family-based immigration falls under two basic categories:

Unlimited Family-Based

  • Spouse, widow(er), unmarried children under 21 and parents of a US citizen who is 21 or older.

Limited Family-Based

  • Adult unmarried sons/ daughters (over age 21) of a US citizen and their minor children.
  • Spouses, minor children and unmarried sons/ daughters (over age 21) of lawful permanent residents.
  • Married sons and daughters of US citizens and their spouses and minor children.
  • Brothers and sisters of a United States citizen and their spouses and minor children provided the US citizen is at least 21 years of age.

Am I eligible?

Certain conditions and activities may make an applicant ineligible for a visa. Examples of these ineligibilities include: drug trafficking; overstaying a previous visa; and submitting fraudulent documents. If you are ineligible for a visa, you will be informed by the consular officer and advised whether there is a waiver of the ineligibility available to you and what the waiver process is. Ineligibilities and Waiver: Laws contains the complete list of ineligibilities.

Misrepresentation of Material Facts or Fraud

Attempting to obtain a visa by the willful misrepresentation of a material fact or fraud may result in you becoming permanently ineligible to receive a U.S. visa or enter the United States.

How to Apply

As the first step, a sponsoring relative must file a Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130 with the Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

In certain circumstances, a U.S. citizen living abroad can file an immigrant visa petition outside the United States. Review Filing Immigrant Petitions Outside the United States to learn more.


The Immigrant Visa process begins with a filing of an appropriate immigrant visa petition.

The US citizen or permanent resident relative of intending immigrants, who plan to base their immigrant visa application on family relationship, must submit a Petition for Alien Relative (Form I-130) to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office nearest their place of residence. However, petitioners in Argentina are now required to file their Forms I-130 by mail with the USCIS Chicago lockbox at one of the addresses below.

USCIS Chicago Lockbox addresses for regular mail deliveries:
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-4107

USCIS Chicago Lockbox address for express mail and courier deliveries:
Attn: I-130
131 South Dearborn-3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517

Once USCIS approves the petition, they will send the petitioner a notice of approval (Form I-797). USCIS will also forward the approved petition to the National Visa Center. For information regarding the processing at the NVC, please click here.

Important Notice: US law limits the number of immigrant visas that are available each year. This means that even if the USCIS approves an immigrant visa petition for you, you may not get an immigrant visa petition immediately. In some cases, several years could pass between the time your immigrant visa petition is approved and the time your immigrant visa is issued. Immigrant visas are issued in the chronological order in which the petition was filed until the numerical limit for the category is reached. The filing date of the petition becomes the applicant’s priority date.

Immigrant visas cannot be issued until the applicant’s priority is reached. Check the Visa Bulletin for the latest priority dates. USCIS will send the approved immigrant visa petition to the National Visa Center where it will remain until the priority date is available. You do NOT need to contact the National Visa Center. The National Visa Center will contact you with the Instruction package for immigrant visa applicants.

Required Documents

Once you have received notification that the petition has been approved,  the visa applicant must follow the instructions regarding the visa fees and documentation required for visa application.

If you filed an Immigrant visa petition with USCIS and it was sent to the NVC:

Please click here for specific instructions.

Schedule an Interview

Appointments are necessary for immigrant visa interviews. Everyone applying for immigrant visa or K visa must appear in person: the principal applicant and eligible accompanying family members or derivatives.  Petitioners are not required to appear at the time of the visa interview; however, they are welcome to do so if they wish.

Visa interviews are conducted on Monday and Thursday mornings, with the exception of U.S. and Argentine holidays.  We strive to process all applicants promptly and efficiently, but please plan for the process to take 2-3 hours.  Please be advised that your case will be delayed further if you are missing documents.  Please do not purchase a plane ticket or make travel arrangements to go to the U.S. without confirmation of issuance of your visa.

If you are unable to appear for the interview, you may cancel or reschedule your appointment at the Official Visa Information and Appointment system page.  You may do so, after you have registered the original interview date assigned by the NVC. Rescheduling an appointment may result in a delay in processing your visa case.  You should try to reschedule your appointment only if absolutely necessary.

Medical Examination

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires that all immigrant visa applicants and certain non immigrant visa applicants (including K fiancée visa applicants), regardless of age, undergo a medical examination before receiving a visa.  The medical exam is valid for 6 months, unless there is a special medical condition, in which case the validity will be limited. Please click here (PDF 1MB) for detailed information.

We cannot accept medical examination results from other sources. The fee for the medical exam, which is paid in pesos, is in addition to fees paid directly to the US government.

The Interview

Dear Applicant,

  • Please arrive no more than fifteen (15) minutes before your scheduled appointment time.
  • Only visa applicants, the parents of child applicants, and those assisting the elderly or disabled will be allowed into the Embassy.
  • To enter the Embassy, all persons must go through a security screening.  Please be advised that certain items are prohibited in the Embassy.  Any person refusing to comply with the security process will be denied entry into the Embassy.
  • Once you are inside the Embassy, you will be directed to the consular waiting room, please wait to be called.
  • After you have completed the intake process, you will be interviewed by the Consular Officer.

If all the required documentation is in order and the interviewing officer is satisfied that the beneficiary qualifies for the immigrant visa, the visa will be issued and sent to the selected pick up point.

If you are found ineligible for a visa, you will be given a refusal letter with the specific reason(s) why you were ineligible.

In certain circumstances, individuals who have been found ineligible for an immigrant visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) may be eligible to apply for a waiver of the ineligibility. 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 are waiverable. If the consular officer determines that an applicant is ineligible for a visa, the applicant may request for a waiver of the ineligibility from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which has jurisdiction for adjudicating all waiver applications.  Effective June 4, 2012, the process for filing all I-601 and some I-212 waiver applications changed to be more efficient and transparent.

For further information, please see the USCIS I-212 page and USCIS I-601 waiver page.

If additional administrative processing of your visa is needed, this process can delay the final adjudication of your case.  The consular officer will provide you with a letter of instructions on how to proceed.

Where to Apply

File Form I-129F at the USCIS Dallas Lockbox facility

For U.S. Postal Service (USPS):

P.O. Box 660151
Dallas, TX 75266

For USPS Express Mail and courier deliveries:
Attn: I-129F
2501 South State Highway 121 Business
Suite 400
Lewisville, TX 75067

We recommend reading our Lockbox Filing Tips before filing your petition.

The Interview

Once the NVC determines the file is complete with all the required documents, they schedule the applicant’s interview appointment. NVC then sends the file, containing the applicant’s petition and the documents listed above, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the applicant will be interviewed for a visa. The applicant, attorney, and/ or third-party agent, if applicable, will receive appointment emails, or letters (if no email address is available), containing the date and time of the applicant’s visa interview along with instructions regarding the appointment at the Consulate (PDF 2MB), including guidance for obtaining a medical examination.

Each applicant should bring all valid passports to the interview, as well as any other documentation not already provided to the NVC. A consular officer will interview the applicant, and the consular officer will determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive an immigrant visa in accordance with U.S. immigration law. Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken on the day of the interview. Generally, an applicant receives original civil documents and original translations back at the time of interview.


Immediate Relative/ Family-based immigrant visa fee: Please review the schedule of fees for updated information.

These fees, if not previously paid at the NVC, are payable at the Consular Section on the day of the appointment, in cash (US dollars, or pesos at the Embassy’s exchange rate), or international credit cards.

Case Status

If you have already filed an immigrant case with USCIS, you can inquire about the status of your case directly at www.uscis.gov

If your immigrant visa case is approved and current for processing, you will receive notification from the National Visa Center about the documents required for visa application and about the scheduled interview at the U.S. Embassy Buenos Aires.

If you have questions that have not been answered from above, please feel free to contact us at Buenosaires-IV@state.gov However, due to the high volume of emails received daily, we are limited to answering ONLY those emails containing inquiries which are not addressed in our website.