U.S. Visas in Ghana
U.S. Visas in Ghana
U.S. K-3 Visa in Ghana
U.S. K-3 Visa in Ghana

U.S. Immigration law allows for the immigration of foreigners to the U.S based on a relationship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. An overseas national married to a U.S. citizen is in immigration law terminology referred to as an “immediate relative”.

Along with the U.S. citizen spouse, all unmarried children of the couple under the age of 21 years fall into this category. The parents of a U.S. citizen also qualify as an immediate relative provided the U.S. citizen is over 21 years of age. There are no waiting periods or quotas for persons in this category. As such qualified applicants do not have to spend time waiting for their priority date to become current once the petition is approved by the USCIS.

A marriage based visa or green card is also available to anyone who is living in a foreign country, married to a U.S. permanent resident and whose marriage is real and regally valid. To qualify for this visa, a spouse or child (under age 21 years) of a U.S. lawful permanent resident must meet all of the following criteria. Unlike the spouse of a U.S. citizen, a spouse of a permanent resident is subject to a waiting period or quota.

What is a Waiting Period?

Waiting periods are not set periods of time and are only partly predictable. They depend on visa supply and demand, combined with monthly decisions by the U.S government. It is thus difficult to predict how long an applicant will have to wait for their priority date becomes current.

What is a Preference Category?

A spouse of a lawful permanent resident is referred to as a “preference relative”. The U.S. government ranks preference relatives, usually giving visas quicker to those at the top.

  • First Preference: This category is for unmarried sons or daughters of a U.S. citizen who are over 21 years and are therefore no longer considered as children. (If they were still children; they could qualify as immediate relatives who are immediately eligible for visas).
  • Second Preference: The second preference category is made up of two sub-categories, each with different waiting periods. In sub category 2A are spouses or unmarried sons or daughters under age 21 years of a permanent resident (green card holder). In sub category 2B are the unmarried sons and daughters over age 21 of a permanent resident. (They usually wait longer than 2A’s).
  • Third Preference: They are the married sons or daughters of any age of a U.S. citizen.
  • Fourth Preference: They are the brothers or sisters of any age of a U.S citizen. The U.S. citizen must be age 21 years or older.
How visas are allotted year by year

Each year the U.S government allots a certain number of immigrant visas in each preference category. For purpose of visa allocation, the government follows the final year, which starts and ends in October. Currently, the total worldwide numbers are:

  • First Preference: 23,400 plus any visas not used for fourth preference.
  • Second Preference: 114,200, with 77% of these going to category 2A and 23% to category 2B.
  • Third Preference: 23,400 plus any not used for first and second Preference.
  • Fourth Preference: 65,000 plus any not used for the first three preferences.

The U.S government gives out visas month by month, making sure never to go over the annual limit. There are also limits on the number of visas allocated for any one country. No more than 7% of total visas each year can go to any one country and often the percentage turns out to be less.

The Application Process
  • The first step in the process is for the U.S Citizen Spouse to file a visa petition, Form I-130 (Petition for Alien Relative) and attached documents with a USCIS lockbox which will then forward it to a USCIS service centre in the U.S;
  • After the USCIS approves the petition, it will then forward it to the NVC, who will then assign a case number for the petition. The NVC will send the foreign national what is called a Choice of Address and Agent Form (DS–3032). By choosing an agent as the form demands, the foreign national is essentially deciding where all important mail from the U.S government regarding their application should go. This may be their overseas address or to someone else, most likely their petitioner in the U.S. If the overseas national already has an attorney, the NVC will not send this form. At the same time, the NVC will send a bill for processing the Affidavit of Support Form (Form I – 864) to the petitioner. After the petitioner pays the fee, the NVC will send further instructions on preparing and submitting Form I – 864;
  • Once the NVC receives the form DS–3032, it will mail a bill for the immigrant visa processing fee. Once the visa fee is paid, the NVC will send further instruction on how to fill out the various forms and return them to the NVC;
  • The NVC will review all the documents before finally sending the applicant or appointment notice for their interview including guidance for obtaining a medical exam at the U.S. consulate in their home country. The NVC will then send the file containing the applicant’s petition and document to the U.S. embassy or consulate where the applicant will be interviewed for a visa.
Required Documentation in support of the Visa application
  • Form DS-230;
  • Form I – 864, Affidavit of Support Form and accompanying documents;
  • a copy of spouse/sponsor’s federal income tax returns for the last one to 3 years with W2s;
  • proof of sponsor’s current employment;
  • a list of assets, (the sponsor’s and for the immigrant’s) if they must be used to meet the poverty businesses minimum;
  • proof of ownership of assets (the sponsor’s and for the immigrant’s) if any were listed;
  • if sponsor or sponsor’s dependants have used financial need-based public benefit in the last 3 years, a list of the programs and dates of receipt;
  • if exempt from the Affidavit of Support requirement from I–864W together with a certified statement of the sponsor’s social security earning history;
  • original and one photocopy of applicant’s birth certificate;
  • original and one photocopy or marriage certificate;
  • if applicable, original and one photocopy of proof of termination of all previous marriage, such as death, divorce or annulment certificate;
  • original INS or USCIS Notice of Approved I – 130 (Form I – 797);
  • two color photographs of applicant (passport style);
  • police certificate;
  • military records, if applicable;
  • court and prison records, if applicable.
Documents showing that the Marriage is Bona Fide
  • rental agreements, leases or mortgages showing that the couple have lived together and/or have leased or bought property in both spouse’s name;
  • hotel and airplane receipts showing trips that the couple have taken together or to visit one another;
  • phone bills showing the couple’s conversations;
  • copies of letters and emails between the couple;
  • the couple’s mutual child’s birth certificate or a doctor’s report saying the applicant is pregnant.
  • joint bank statements;
  • joint credit card statements;
  • evidence that one spouse has made the other a beneficiary on his/her life or health insurance or retirement account;
  • auto registrations showing joint ownership and/or address;
  • joint club memberships;
  • receipts for gifts that couple may have purchased for one another. (There should be items that are normally considered gifts, such as flowers, candy, jewelry and art);
  • letters from friends and family to each or both mailed to an address the couple were living together;
  • photos of the couple taken before and during the marriage including those taken at the wedding. The photos should, if possible include parents and other relatives from both families. Write the date the photo was taken and a brief description of what the photo shows on the back or underneath, if photocopying them.
What happens after a visa is issued?

Assuming all goes well at the visa interview the applicant will be given an immigrant visa. The inspection process during entry typically involves a U.S. border officer opening the sealed envelope containing the visa documents and making sure the applicant has not used fraud. The border officer has expedited removal power which means that the officer can turn the applicant right around and send them home if anything appears wrong in the applicant’s packet or with answer to the officer’s questions.

If the applicant’s marriage is less than two years on the date of their entry to the U.S. the border officer will grant them a conditional residence, i.e. a CR1 visa. If the marriage is older than 2 years, they will be made a permanent resident.

More info about U.S. Visas: