A lawful permanent resident is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of permanently living and working in the United States. If you want to become a lawful permanent resident based on the fact that you have a relative who is a citizen of the United States or is a lawful permanent resident, your relative in the United States will need to sponsor you and prove he/she has enough income or assets to support you, the intending immigrant(s) when in the United States.
For an overview of the types of immigrant visas available under immigration law, please see Visa Types for Immigrants. Your relative sponsor and you, the intending immigrant, must successfully complete certain steps in the immigration process in order to come to the United States. Here are the key steps:
First, the USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition, I-130 Petition for Alien Relative filed by your sponsoring relative for you. Next, most sponsors will need to demonstrate adequate income or assets to support the intending immigrant, and accept legal responsibility for financially supporting their family member, by completing and signing a document called an Affidavit of Support. Once this is complete, then the intending immigrant will apply for the immigrant visa.
How to Apply For US Visa for South Africans
There are steps you will need to complete when you follow the petition steps below.
- A relative or organization in the U.S. files a petition (I-130, I-140, or I-600) on your behalf with the BCIS office closest to them. An immediate relative (parent/child/spouse) may file an I-130 petition with the consulate in Johannesburg, Cape Town, or Durban if you are a permanent resident in South Africa. Both you and your relative must be present at the filing.
- When the petition is approved by BCIS, they send it to the National Visa Center (NVC). If visas are currently available for your type of petition, NVC will immediately contact you to start gathering your documents. If your petition is NOT current, NVC will contact you when it becomes current, which could be several years later. The following website shows the filing dates of petitions that are now current and ready for processing. Petitions filed in South Africa are sent to Johannesburg.
- When NVC determines that you are current and documentarily qualified NVC will complete the administrative processing of the case and send out a letter notifying you of your appointment date and time along with a list of required documents to be presented at the time of your final interview date. Information on the documents required at the time of your interview can be found here.
The medical instructions are included in the appointment letter. All medical exams must be performed by a panel physician pre-approved by the Consulate General in Johannesburg and which includes physicians in Cape Town and Durban. Download the medical instructions and list of approved panel physicians (PDF – 1.1 MB). Immigrant visas are no longer issued on the same day and take between 4-5 working days to process after your interview.
U.S. Consulate Johannesburg does not accept I-130 petitions (for immigration of relatives) on behalf of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Those wishing to submit such petitions should contact the Johannesburg DHS Field Office of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at U.S. Consulate Johannesburg directly for information on how to file. They can be reached by phone at 011-290-3230, or by email at email@example.com.
Two “5 cm x 5 cm” (“2 in. x 2 in.”) color passport photos are required for the interview. However, it is a good idea to bring an extra photo.
US Visa for South Africans Application Fees
To work in the United States temporarily as a lawful nonimmigrant, temporary workers must qualify for the available visa category based on the planned employment purpose. The steps in the process before applying for a visa vary.
For Information on Employment-Based Immigrant Visas, visit Travel.State.Gov
Numerically Limited Categories
There may be a waiting period of several years for the following categories of visas in some cases — see step 2 above.
- F-1 Unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens
- F-2 spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters of Lawful Permanent Residents (LPRs)
- F-3 Married sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens
- F-4 Brothers and Sisters of U.S. Citizens
- Employment-Based Immigrants with approved petitions filed by a company or organization in the U.S.
- Diversity Immigrants with a winning lottery entry (see Diversity Visa Lottery section for details on this category).
Note: Derivative applicants (spouse and minor children) ARE allowed to travel on the petition of a beneficiary of the above categories.
Official VISA website and learn when to apply for your US Visa for South Africans through the U.S Embassy & Consulates in South Africa.