How much time do I have to enter the U.S. once I receive my immigrant visa stamp in my passport?
A client contacted me over the weekend in disbelief. His wife and child had just been interviewed for their immigrant visas in New Delhi on January 22, 2015 and on January 27, 2015 they receive their passports with the visa stamp. The only problem was that the validity date on the visa stamp expired on February 9, 2015. That only gave them about two weeks to get their affairs in order, purchase tickets and enter the U.S.
The client was completely confused because he was under the impression that immigrant visas were issued for six months.
Mostly they are, but sometimes they are not. One reason that a validity date may be sooner than six months is because the validity date on the immigrant visa corresponds to the expiration date of the medical exam. Unlike medical exams for the green card in the U.S. that are valid for one year, overseas medical exams are only good for six months.
In my client’s case, the wife and child had obtained their medical exams several months before their interview.
Lessons learned: When processing overseas, wait to get the medical exam until just before the immigrant visa interview to maximize the length of time your immigrant visa is valid.