In general, to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative(s), U.S. lawful permanent resident, or by a prospective employer, and be the beneficiary of an approved petition. Therefore, the first step is filing a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) in the United States. For information on this step, visit the USCIS website.
After the immigrant petition is approved by USCIS, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. NVC plays an important role in the next steps of the immigrant visa process by providing instructions to petitioners, sponsors, and visa applicants; reviewing required Affidavit of Support forms from sponsors; receiving fees, application forms, and other required documents from visa applicants and scheduling an appointment for the visa interview. For numerically limited family preference petitions, NVC contacts the petitioner once the petition's priority date is about to become current.
The National Visa Center will only send cases to the U.S. Consulate in Guayaquil with current priority dates. A Consular Officer in the Immigrant Visa section then interviews beneficiaries during their scheduled appointment to ensure that they qualify for resident status prior to issuing an immigrant visa. To check if your priority date is current, please review the monthly visa bulletin or contact the National Visa Center.
Please note that no assurances regarding the issuance of visas can be given in advance. A consular officer can make a decision regarding your visa application only after your formal application and all documents have been reviewed, and you have been personally interviewed by a consular officer. Do not make any travel arrangements to move to the United States, dispose of property or give up your job until a visa has been issued to you and you have received your passport via DHL.
Effective February 1, 2013 all individuals issued immigrant visas overseas must pay a US$165.00 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, returning residents, and those issued K visas are exempt from the new fee.
Failure to pay the fee prior to travel will result in a delay of issuance of the applicant's Permanent Resident Card ("Green Card") until the fee is paid. The below USCIS website has more details on this fee, including contact information for USCIS, if there are further questions: www.USCIS.gov/immigrantfee.
A GUIDE FOR NEW IMMIGRANTS
A comprehensive guide containing practical information here.