After Visa Approval and Issuance

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Once you have received your immigrant visa, please note the expiration date. You must enter the United States within the time frame specified on the visa to obtain a legal permanent resident (LPR) status or "green" card (Form I-151 or I-551), which will allow you to live and work in the United States.

At the port of entry, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials will assign you an "alien number” also known as your A#.

They will stamp your passport with this number and make a notation that you are registered for an alien registration card.

It normally takes several months for DHS to process and send the alien registration card to you.

In the interim, the passport stamp, valid for one year, permits employment and travel as you await your green card. You may depart and return to the United States before you receive the alien registration receipt card, as long as the DHS stamp in your passport has not expired.

Should you wish to leave the United States and your stamp has expired and you have not yet received your alien card, you should contact DHS before departure to obtain permission to return to the United States.

If, in the future, you plan to live outside the United States for more than 12 months, you must apply for a re-entry permit (Form I-131) in the United States BEFORE departure. The maximum validity of this document is two years. If the relocation is permanent, you should formally abandon your permanent resident status.

Without a re-entry permit, any absence from the United States of 12 months or longer, or any residence established outside the United States, is considered grounds for loss of permanent resident status.


USCIS Immigrant Fee

Effective February 1, 2013, all individuals issued immigrant visas overseas must pay a US$220 USCIS Immigrant Fee before traveling to the United States. Only prospective adoptive parents whose child(ren) is/are entering the United States under either the Orphan or Hague Process, Iraqi and Afghan special immigrants who were employed by the U.S. government, and returning residents are exempt from the fee. The below USCIS website has more details on the fee, including contact information for USCIS, if there are further questions: