All persons who plan to travel to the United States to establish permanent residency must obtain an immigrant visa prior to entering the United States. In general, any applicant for an immigrant visa must be the beneficiary of an approved petition. Certain applicants such as priority workers, investors, certain special immigrants, and diversity immigrants can petition on their own behalf. All other intending immigrants must have a relative or potential employer petition for them in the United States. Please visit the Department of State’s web site to learn more about the different processes for the major immigrant categories.
There are three key stages that almost all prospective immigrants must go through to obtain an immigrant visa. While the length of time and procedures may change depending on the visa category, all prospective applicants pass through some version of each of the following stages to obtain an immigrant visa.
In most cases, the immigration process starts with someone filing a petition on your behalf with the Department of Homeland Security U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (US CIS).
Diversity Visa (DV) applicants do not have to file a petition. Instead, your entry into the Diversity Visa Lottery will serve as your petition. Click here for more information on filing a Diversity Visa Lottery application.
Petitions must be filed with the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over the petitioner’s place of residence. Visit USCIS to obtain more information about how to file a petition and the required documentation.
Petitioners residing overseas must file immigrant visa petitions (Form I-13) with the USCIS Chicago Lock Box. The U.S. Embassy in Lusaka can only except petitions in strictly-defined exceptional circumstances. Consular officers may accept I-360 petitions from widow(er)s of deceased U.S. citizens and I-600 adoption petitions from U.S. citizens when accompanied by an approved from I-600A.
The USCIS Chicago Lockbox address for regular mail deliveries is:
P.O. Box 804625
Chicago, IL 60680-4107
The USCIS Chicago Lockbox address for express mail and courier deliveries is:
131 South Dearborn-3rd Floor
Chicago, IL 60603-5517
For additional information about how to file a Form I-130 with the USCIS Chicago lockbox, please see the USCIS website at www.uscis.gov or contact USCIS by phone at 1-800-375-5283.
Bring with you all the documents that are pertinent to your case. Your application will be delayed if you fail to bring all required documentations. Required documents are listed below.
- The Appointment Letter
- National Identification Card
- Two color photographs (2 inch by 2 inch)
- Passport (valid at least six months beyond intended date of entry into the United States)
- Birth Certificate
- Medical examination results
- Police certificate for all countries that you have resided for more than 6 months
- Evidence of relationship
- Court or prison record, if applicable
- Military record, if applicable
- Marriage Certificate, if applicable
- Divorce decree or death certificate of spouse from previous marriage, if applicable
All documents which are not in English must be accompanied by a certified English translation. Translation must be certified by a competent translator.