In theory and by law, visas for the spouse, minor children or parent of U.S. Citizens are immediately available once the visa petition is approved. The form used is the I-130 Form, Petition for Alien Relative.
 
The I-130 visa petition is filed with a specific lockbox facility in Chicago or Phoenix – depending on where the US Citizen-petitioner’s residence.

The lockbox facility then forwards the petition to the appropriate USCIS Service Center after checking the file for completeness (correct filing fee, information, documents establishing petitioner’s status, genuine relationship).

As of the time of writing, all the USCIS Service Centers show that it takes more than eight (8) months to process the I-130 petition. These Service Centers are located in California, Nebraska, Texas and Vermont.  All Service Centers processing times show that I-130 petitions filed on or before February 12, 2013 are being processed.

After approval, the petition is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC).  At this time, the Department of State takes over.  Upon receipt of the approved petition, an immigrant case number is assigned. The principal applicant is then asked to designate an agent to process the petition. After completing the documentation, submitting the correct filing fees, the principal applicant is considered “documentarily qualified”. The NVC then provides an immigrant visa interview date at the consular post.  In the case of the Philippines – the interview is at the US Embassy in Manila.

The consular processing takes another 4 to 6 months – assuming all documents are independently verified, forms are accurately completed, correct fees are submitted and the status – as well as the financial ability of the US Citizen-petitioner has been verified as well.

The long waiting period may prompt the spouse, minor child or parent of a US citizen to apply for tourist visas. However, these visitor visa applications are likely to be refused because once in the U.S., these immediate relatives are eligible to immediately apply for their green card or permanent residency through the adjustment of status process.

Unless a US Consular official is assured that the immediate relative will return to the Philippines instead of applying for adjustment, the B-1 or B-2 visa application would be denied.

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