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Immigrant Visas

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Immigrant Visas
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An immigrant visa is required of anyone who wishes to enter the United States to reside there indefinitely, whether or not that person plans to seek employment in the United States.

General Categories

U.S. immigration law provides for the issuance of immigrant visas in four general categories:

The U.S. Embassy in Almaty does not handle refugee cases. Persons seeking refugee status must contact U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

General Immigration Process

First, you MUST QUALIFY to apply for an immigrant visa by meeting the criteria of one of the general categories listed above. If you qualify, the immigrant visa process includes the following steps:

  1. File Petition

    In most cases, a U.S. citizen family member or employer (petitioner) must file the petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS will notify the person who filed the visa petition if it was approved.

    Note: Applicants in numerically limited visa categories face a long waiting period after petition approval before an immigrant visa number is available and their case becomes current. For waiting time, please see the Visa Bulletin.

  2. Assigned Immigrant Visa Number

    All approved visa petitions that were filed with the USCIS are sent to the Department of State's National Visa Center (NVC), where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available. The NVC will notify the beneficiary of the petition when it is received and again when an immigrant visa number is available.

  3. Application for Immigrant Visa and Interview

    If the beneficiary resides outside the U.S. when an immigrant visa number becomes available, the visa petition is forwarded to the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. The U.S. Embassy in Almaty processes immigrant visas for residents of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, including adopted children and fiancées of American citizens.

Please refer to the general immigrant categories for more detailed information regarding the immigration process.



If an applicant is not issued a visa because, for example, a document is missing, he or she is given notification in writing at the time of the interview. Please review this notification before contacting the Embassy with questions about the case. If the interviewing consular office determines that the case is not approvable at post, the case will be returned to USCIS via NVC for their review. If a petition was filed with the Consular section in Almaty, Bishkek, Dushanbe, or Tashkent, the case will be transferred to the regional DHS office in Moscow. Once a case is returned for review, the Embassy in Almaty has no jurisdiction over the case. Inquiries about the case must be directed to the USCIS office where the petition was filed.


Before the issuance of an immigrant visa, every applicant, regardless of age, must undergo a medical examination. Examination costs must be borne by the applicant, in addition to the visa fees.


The cost of each immigrant visa application processing fee is $380 U.S. dollars (cash only). Fees must be paid per person regardless of age and are not refundable. Local currency equivalents are not acceptable. Fees should not be sent to the consular office unless specifically requested. The USCIS may charge additional fees for filing petitions.


In order to protect the health, welfare, and security of the U.S., the immigration laws of the United States prohibit visa issuance to certain applicants. This includes persons who have a communicable disease such as tuberculosis, or have a dangerous physical or mental disorder, or are drug addicts; have committed serious criminal acts, including crimes involving moral turpitude, drug trafficking, and prostitution or procuring; are terrorists, subversives, members of a totalitarian party or former Nazi war criminals; are likely to become public charges in the U. S.; have used fraud or other illegal means to enter the U.S.; or are ineligible for citizenship. Some former exchange visitors must live abroad 2 years. Physicians who intend to practice medicine must pass a qualifying exam before receiving immigrant visas.

If any of the above restrictions might apply, then a statement regarding the facts should be submitted to the consular officer, who will advise the applicant if the law provides for some form of waiver.

Application for waiver is considered by USCIS. Applicants residing in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan can apply for waiver through the U.S. Embassy in Almaty. Application for a waiver with the supporting documents and fee will be forwarded to the regional DHS office in Moscow for consideration.


Whenever there are more qualified applicants for a category than there are available numbers, the category will be considered oversubscribed, and immigrant visas will be issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed until the numerical limit for the category is reached. The filing date of a petition becomes the priority date. Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant’s priority date is reached. In certain oversubscribed categories, there may be a waiting period of several years before a priority date is reached. Check the Visa Bulletin for the latest priority dates.


Since no advance assurances can be given that a visa will be issued, applicants are advised not to make any final travel arrangements, not to dispose of their property, and not to give up their jobs until visas have been issued to them. An immigrant visa is valid for six months from date of issuance.


All citizens of former Soviet Republics (CIS) are required to obtain Permission for Permanent Residence Abroad (exit permit) from the local Migration Police Office (formerly OVIR). All questions regarding the procedure for obtaining the above-mentioned permission should be addressed to the local migration police office.


With few exceptions, a person born in the U.S. has a claim to U.S. citizenship. Persons born in countries other than the U.S. may have a claim, under U.S. law, to U.S. nationality if: Either parent was born or naturalized in the United States, or Either parent was a U.S. citizen at the time of the applicant's birth.

Any applicant believing that he or she may have a claim to United States citizenship should not apply for a visa until his or her citizenship has been determined by the consular office.

— Important Notes —

In June, 2006, the U.S. Embassy in Uzbekistan will begin processing immigrant visas for residents of Uzbekistan. After June, 2006, all Uzbekistani cases received by the Embassy in Almaty will be transferred to Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

— Quick Links —
— For Immigrant Visas —
How to Apply
Medical Examinations
Visa Fee
Numerical Limitations
Visa Ineligiblity/Waiver

What happens to an approved petition?

Contact Consul

— Related Links —
Fiancee or K1(K2) Visa
How to Get Married in Kazakhstan
Spouse of U.S. citizen or K3(K4) Visa

— USCIS Links —
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)
USCIS-Immigrant Classifications
Filing a petition with USCIS
Searching for the status of a petition filed with USCIS
A Guide for New Immigrants

— Useful Links —
Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs
U.S. Department of State

Embassy of the United States