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Ask the Consul

How long do I have to travel to the U.S. once I have received my immigrant visa and packet?

February 25, 2013

An applicant must enter the United States on or before the expiration date printed on their visa, which is typically one day before the applicant’s medical exam expires, although this may vary. It is extremely important that each applicant travels on or before the expiration date of their visa as they will not be allowed to enter the U.S. after their visa has expired. Keep in mind that each individual may have a different visa expiration date even if part of the same family interviewed on the same day.  In addition, a derivative beneficiary must travel at the same time as or after the principal applicant.

If the visa expires before an applicant is able to travel to the United States, he or she must pay for another visa interview, return to the Consular Section to be re-interviewed, and update any documents that may have expired.  It is also very important that applicants not open the yellow immigrant visa packet they receive with their passport. If for any reason the visa packet is opened, the applicant will not be allowed to enter the United States and will have to pay the fee for another interview in order to be issued a new visa and visa packet.

Several of the documents required during the immigrant visa process expire after a set period of time. The Application for an Immigrant Visa (DS-230) and the police certificate are valid for one year. The medical certificate is typically valid for three to six months. If any of these documents is expired for any reason, new ones must be obtained before a visa can be issued. The Affidavit of Support (I864) does not expire but an interviewing officer can ask for the most recent tax returns if deemed necessary.

If you have an inquiry about a specific case, you may speak to an operator at the Call Center by purchasing a PIN number at any branch of Banco Popular and dialing 809-200-3232; if calling from the US dial 1-877-804-5402 with a credit card in hand.