How can immigrants be American citizens?

US Embassy and Consulates in

Processing of immigrant visas and visa interview

Can I transfer my citizenship to my spouse?
No, a US citizen cannot transfer their citizenship to their spouse. If your spouse wants to move to the United States with you, they will need an immigrant visa. A permanent resident married to a U.S. citizen can apply for U.S. citizenship after three years in the United States. Questions regarding processing should be directed to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Office (USCIS).

Which processing time is shorter, that for an immigrant visa or that for a fiancé visa?
The time it takes to process a visa application depends on the case. In general, however, it can be said that the processing time for a fiance visa is slightly shorter than that for an immigrant visa because immigrant visa applications require a longer processing and approval process by the USCIS in the United States. If the time factor is important to you, you should contact USCIS, where you will submit your immigration application, to find out the processing time before deciding whether to apply for an immigrant visa or a fiancee visa.

My partner / significant other is a US citizen. Can he support my immigration application?
The laws in the United States do not recognize cohabitation. A U.S. citizen cannot file immigration applications for immediate family members as a spouse or for a fiancé. You must apply for an immigrant visa - either in one of the employment preferential categories or under the Diversity Visa program, commonly known as the Green Card Lottery.

My fiancé and I are not going to get married within 90 days of our arrival. Can he / she still apply for a fiancé visa?
No. If the marriage is not consummated within 90 days of the arrival of the fiancé who applied for the visa in the United States, the fiancé visa application will not be processed. Then an immigrant visa is required. Visa-free travel under the visa waiver program or non-immigrant or work visas are not suitable.

Can we apply for the fiancé visa while my fiancé is in the United States?
No. An applicant for a fiancé visa must apply for one at a U.S. embassy or consulate outside the United States as he / she must enter the United States on that visa.

If I cannot vouch for my fiancée, how can he / she come to me in the United States?
Your fiancé must apply for an immigrant visa - either in one of the employment preferential categories or under the Diversity Visa program, commonly known as the Green Card Lottery.

We just want to go to the United States to get married. After the marriage we will return to Germany. Do we still need a fiancé visa?
An individual traveling to the United States with the intention of marrying a US citizen and then returning to their permanent residence abroad may apply for a visitor visa (B-2 visa) or, if eligible, under travel visa-free under the Visa Waiver Program. Proof of residence abroad to which the B-2 visa holder or visa-free traveler wishes to return should be presented to an immigration officer at the entry point.

Can I enter the United States on a fiancé visa, get married, and then leave the United States for the honeymoon?
For more information on getting married, please contact the Citizenship and Immigration Office. If you leave the United States without first obtaining re-entry authorization, you will need to apply for a re-entry visa. That could delay your return by six months.

Can I enter the United States while my immigrant or fiancee visa application is being processed?
If you want to live in the United States permanently, you will have to wait for your immigrant or fiancee visa to be issued. You cannot be in the United States with a tourist visa or without a visa under the Visa Waiver Program and wait for an immigrant or fiancee visa to be issued. However, if you plan to enter temporarily and then return to permanent residence outside of the United States, you can enter on a tourist visa (B-2 visa) or under the visa waiver program if you are eligible. When applying for a B-2 visa, you will need to provide evidence of your residence outside the United States to which you are returning after your temporary stay. Although a pending application for an immigrant or fiancé visa is not necessarily conclusive evidence of an intention to give up residence in Germany, this factor will certainly be taken into account by consular officers when considering the application. If you cannot convince the consular officer reviewing your application that they are not planning to give up your residence, you will not be issued a visa. If you are traveling to the United States on a visa or under the visa-free travel program, be sure to have evidence of your residence outside the United States to show to the immigration officer. If the immigration officer is not convinced that you really want to enter the United States temporarily as a tourist, you will be denied entry to the United States.

Why do I need police clearance certificates to apply for an immigrant visa? I have never come into conflict with the law.
A police clearance certificate is a statement that tells the consular officer whether or not there have been any criminal convictions in your name.

Where can I find information on how to get a police clearance certificate?
Please visit the US State Department website for information on how to do this. Search for the appropriate country and read the information on "Police clearance certificate". If it is your place of birth or your current place of residence, you will need a police clearance certificate if you have stayed there for at least six months since your 16th birthday. For all other countries, you must present a police clearance certificate for all places of residence where you have lived for more than 12 months.

How long is a police clearance certificate valid?
The German police clearance certificate is valid for 12 months from the date of issue. Otherwise, a police clearance certificate is valid for an indefinite period if you do not return to the country, not even as a visitor, if it is your country of birth or the country in which you are currently residing. For all other countries the period is 12 months.

I live outside of Germany, how do I get a German police clearance certificate?
If you live outside Germany, you should contact the Federal Central Register.

If I have the police clearance certificate, do I also have to present court files?
Yes. If you have been convicted, you will need to provide court records of any criminal offense that you have been charged with.

How do I get my German court files?
Court records are available from the courts in which the individual's case was heard. Such court records must include the type of crime (s) committed, the paragraphs of the law that was violated, and the sentence imposed.

Do I need court records from the United States?
If you have been convicted in the United States, you must produce court records of any offenses that you are charged with. You should go to the court where you were sentenced. If you do not know the address of the court, you can find it on the Internet at If you cannot get the court record, the embassy will do it for you.

I have a conviction from a country other than Germany or the United States. How do I get the court record?
Contact the embassy of the respective country, they will help you.

I am a member of the U.S. Forces. My spouse is applying for an immigrant visa. Does he have to provide clearance certificates for each country I've served or will you accept a letter from my commanding officer / US Forces?
Your spouse must provide police clearance certificates, even if they have lived in the respective locations as a member of your family.

I have received a letter informing me that my child can no longer derive their residence status from my immigration application because they are older than 21 years old. My child was younger than 21 at the time of application, why can they no longer apply for a visa?
Your son / daughter can only derive his / her residence status from the immigration application submitted for you if he / she is younger than 21 years of age, regardless of how old he / she was when the immigration application was submitted. Since they could have applied for a visa before their 21st birthday, they are no longer entitled to infer the status from you and the application has been declared invalid.

An immigration application was submitted for me. I have a child now. Can it be included on my application?
If your baby's mother or father is a US citizen, the baby may be eligible for US citizenship. If the baby is not eligible for US citizenship, they may be able to infer the status from the immigration petition filed for you, or your partner may be able to submit an application for the child. You should notify the Immigrant Visa Department in writing of the birth of your child. There you can get more information. The address is: US Consulate General, Immigration Visa Department, Gießener Strasse 30, 60435 Frankfurt.

After I was issued an immigrant visa, I had a child. Can my child immigrate with me?
If your baby's mother or father is a US citizen, the baby may be eligible for US citizenship. A child born after an immigrant visa has been issued does not require a visa to accompany the parent if both are traveling within the visa's validity period. You must have a copy of the long-form birth certificate with the names of the parents, which you must present to the immigration officer at the point of entry along with a valid travel document for the child.

I am submitting an immigration application for my son or daughter. Is it true that I have to live in the United States to do this?
You do not have to live in the United States to apply for immigration. However, you must also submit Form I-864 in addition to Form I-130. To file Form I-864, you must either live in the United States or plan to move back to the United States if your son / daughter immigrates to the United States.

My child does not immigrate with me. Do I still have to enter his details on the OF-230-I personal data form?
You must provide the personal information of any child under the age of 21, including stepchildren from a marriage that was entered into when the child was under the age of 18.

I am divorced and am applying for an immigrant visa. Do I need my ex-spouse's permission to leave the country with my child?
If you are divorced and are applying for a visa for children from a previous marriage, on the day of your visa interview, you will need to produce documents proving that a court has given you custody of the child (s) and that they have been given permission to do so Child (s) are allowed to leave Germany.

How long does the visa interview for immigrant visas at the consulate take?
Appointments are made between 7.30 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. You should plan around three hours for the interview.

Does my child have to be present at the visa interview?
Each applicant listed must appear in person for an official interview with the US consular officer at the consulate.

My spouse, who is a US citizen, filed an immigration application for me. Does he have to come to the visa interview with me?
No. The US citizen does not have to be present at the interview. There is also no requirement that your spouse must remain in Germany until you receive your immigrant visa; he can go to the United States before you do.

Will I get my immigrant visa on the day of the visa interview?
It takes about ten working days for the visa to be issued, provided that all necessary documents have been submitted. The visa will be sent to you by registered mail with Deutsche Post. On the day of the interview, you will need to purchase stamps to return your documents once your visa process is complete.

What if my immigrant visa application is denied?
If your visa is refused for missing documents under Section 221 (g) of the Immigration and Citizenship Act, you have 12 months from the time of refusal to provide the missing documents and enter the United States on the immigrant visa.

What if I fail to provide the documents I need to appeal my immigrant visa refusal and enter the United States within 12 months?
You will need to reapply for the immigrant visa and pay the visa application, issuance and medical examination fees again.

How much time do I have to travel to the United States after my immigrant visa is issued?
Immigrant and fiancee visas are typically valid for six months from the date of issue to enter the United States. K-Visa holders receive a visa that is valid for two years; V-Visa holders are valid for ten years. Please read the relevant sections for more information.

What happens if i am unable to travel while the immigrant visa is valid?
You should return the unused visa to the Immigrant Visa Department with a letter explaining why you were unable to travel. Depending on why you were unable to use the visa, you may be able to get a new visa in exchange for paying the visa processing fee again.

I have sent all the completed forms to the Immigration Visa Department. When will I get an appointment for my visa interview?
Applicants in the “immediate family” category will receive an appointment for the official visa interview approximately four to eight weeks after the immigrant visa department has finished processing the visa application. There is a limit to the number of visas issued annually for immigrants to the United States in the “family reunification” or “employment” immigration category. In these cases, an official interview will only be given once the visa numbers are available for the applicant. Please refer to the Visa Bulletin for the current processing date (priority date).

The National Visa Center (NVC) has informed me that my file has been sent to the consulate in Frankfurt. When can I expect an appointment for a visa interview?
There will be at least 12 weeks between the day the NVC sends the file and the day the Immigrant Visa Department receives the file and completes the case. The Immigrant Visa Department will contact the applicant if an appointment can be made for a visa interview.