About this guide
This is a common-case Direct Consular Filing (DCF) Mexico guide for spousal visas (I-130 for IR-1/CR-1), inspired by the DCF_London guide
NOTE: Always do your own reading and research, and double check everything on the official sites.
DCF refers to Direct Consular Filing. More information can be found at Direct_Consular_Filing, but in essence it's a much faster way of completing the CR-1/IR-1 visa process by filing your application at a foreign based USCIS office instead of one of the five within the US. DCF is only available at the offices listed here https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-uscis-office/international-immigration-offices and to US citizens residing in those jurisdictions. You can check each office's estimated processing time here: https://egov.uscis.gov/cris/ptIntlIntro.do (note that this time refers only to part 1 of the process).
Pre-requisites for DCF in Mexico for I-130 petition for Spousal CR-1/IR-1:
- Both petitioner and beneficiary must be a legal resident of Mexico
Additionally, the same requirements for the CR-1/IR-1 apply
The DCF process in Mexico can be broken up into the following parts:
- Part 1 Filing the I-130
- Part 2 Receipt of Packet 3, completing DS-260, and scheduling appointments
- Part 3 Medical exam, biometrics, and interview
Before you begin
Find your corresponding USCIS office
Mexico has two USCIS offices:
- Mexico City, https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-uscis-office/international-offices/mexico-uscis-mexico-city-field-office
- From the USCIS website: USCIS will permanently close its field office in Monterrey, Mexico, on Sept. 30, 2019. The last day the office will be open to the public is Aug. 16, 2019.
The old USCIS office in Juarez is no longer accepting I130 petitions and is closed:
- Juarez - https://www.uscis.gov/about-us/find-uscis-office/international-offices/mexico-uscis-ciudad-juarez-field-office
- All residents previously covered under the Juarez region must now file their I130 packet at the Mexico City USCIS office.
Each office has jurisdiction over a certain geographical area within Mexico. You cannot choose which USCIS you submit your I-130 to, you must file at the office that corresponds with your state of residence. The geographic jurisdictions for each USCIS office can be found at the links above. As an example, we lived in Jalisco and were required to file at the Mexico City office.
Establishing residency in Mexico
In theory, DCF is available to US citizens who have been legal residents of certain countries for at least 6 months. In practice, each USCIS office has some leeway in setting its own rules on residency. The USCIS offices in Mexico are known to be a bit more lax than other countries. I was able to file without a legal Mexican residence card by providing evidence of my living in the country for 3 years.
If you are a legal resident of Mexico and have your residence card then the only evidence you need to send is a photocopy of the card along with proof of continued residence such as a utility bill.
If you have dual US/Mexico citizenship you can submit a copy of your Mexican passport or IFE. Though I do believe you have to submit extra evidence of residency such as a utility bill in your name. Be sure to call the USCIS office.
If you do not have your card each USCIS office webpage has a list of alternate evidence you can submit. At the time of writing this article, the Mexico City office suggested these items:
- Passport entry stamp
- Residency permit or card
- Utility bills
- Housing lease
- Work contract or other employment documents
- Proof of local registration
- Military orders
- Bank statements
- Proof of school enrollment
- Vehicle registration
- Valid local driver’s license
- Tax documents
- Foreign property deeds or registration (although proof of property ownership in itself, may be insufficient if there is no evidence that the petitioner resides at that property)
- Personally, I submitted the following alternate evidence:
- Two rental leases covering the last 1.5 years
- Last three US tax returns showing a Mexico address and claiming the foreign earned income exclusion. (I worked remotely for a US company and this basically showed that the IRS had already established my tax home as Mexico).
- Checking account history showing regular ATM withdrawals in Mexico
- A notarized letter from the CEO of my company stating that he was aware of my residence in Mexico and even had to ship supplies to and buy travel accommodations from Mexico for me.
Assembling the I-130 packet
The official I-130, I-130A, G-1145, and instructions can be found here: https://www.uscis.gov/i-130. I will not go too in depth here as Visa Journey is full of excellent examples and guides. I will, however, provide the list of documents that I sent with my packet:
- A cashier’s check for the amount of $535.00 to cover the filing fee (More on this below)
- Form G-1145, e-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance
- Evidence in support of petitioner's residency in Mexico since March 2014 (Listed above)
- Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
- Form I-130A, Supplemental Information for Spouse Beneficiary, for the beneficiary
- Two 2in X 2in photos of the petitioner and two photos of the beneficiary
- Copy of petitioner’s unexpired U.S. passport
- Copy of beneficiary's IFE (Mexican ID card)
- Petitioner’s and beneficiary’s marriage certificate and certified translation
Evidence of bona fide marriage:
- Two housing leases showing cohabitation of residence since February 2016
Financial documents showing commingling of finances:
- Petitioner’s Roth IRA beneficiary list, showing spouse as beneficiary
- Petitioner’s second Roth IRA beneficiary list, showing spouse as beneficiary
- Petitioner’s Traditional IRA beneficiary list, showing spouse as beneficiary
- Scanned credit cards showing that beneficiary is an authorized user on petitioner’s US credit card
- Airline itineraries of trips we took together
Photos taken throughout our 7.5 year relationship:
- Facebook posts/photos spanning 7 years
- Photos of our wedding in June 2017 showing attendance by family and friends
- 3 affidavits from family and friends in support of our bona fide marriage
At the time of this writing the fee for an I-130 is USD$535 but is subject to change. Different USCIS offices accept different forms of payment. I emailed the Mexico City USCIS directly and received the following payment options:
- Cashier’s check from a bank located in the U.S. It must be payable to ‘’U.S. Embassy’’
- Giro Bancario. It may be obtained from a bank or currency exchange house in Mexico. It must be payable in U.S. currency and the amount must be written in English. It must be payable to U.S. Embassy. (Note: we don’t take “Giros Bancarios” from MONEX, CI Banco and HSBC)
I went to a Santander, 2 Banamexs, and 2 Bancomers and none were able to help me with the Giro Bancario. Bancomer was willing to send a Giro to the US embassy, but they could not write the amount in english. I had relative in the US take out a cashier's check and Fedex it to me instead.
Any document not in english must be accompanied with a translation. The USCIS instructions mention that the translator must be competent, but makes no mention of certifications. I translated the documents myself and had a friend look over and sign them.
How to file
As noted below, you can now only file your I130 packets in person at the USCIS office covering your region. Mailed packets are no longer accepted.
You can file the packet in person at your corresponding USCIS office, but you also have the option of mailing it. The mailing address for each USCIS office can be found on its webpage. I mailed my packet via DHL from Guadalajara on a Saturday and it arrived on Monday. The total cost was around MXN$200.
Note: According to comments from user jcon91 on page 2 of this thread: http://www.visajourney.com/forums/topic/674922-dcf-in-mexico/?page=2, the USCIS field office in Mexico City no longer accepts mailed petitions. Petitions must be submitted in person. It's not clear if this change is permanent or if the Juarez and Monterrey field offices are affected. If you have any information supporting or contradicting this rule change please let us know in the DCF forum.
You should receive your Notification of Action 1 (receipt confirmation) shortly after the USCIS office receives your packet. If you filed a G-1145 you will receive an email, otherwise you'll get it via standard mail. Don't be immediately alarmed if you don't receive an NOA1. I and at least one other VJ member never received NOA1.
Assuming that you do not receive a RFE, you'll receive NOA2 fairly quickly. My NOA2 arrived via email 9 days after filing. Yours could arrive sooner or later depending on the office's load.
Once your I-130 is approved your packet will be mailed to the embassy in Ciudad Juarez. This is where all IR-1/CR-1 visas are handled. If your corresponding USCIS office is Juarez, then you lucked out and just saved a few days, otherwise you'll have to wait on the mail system to do its job. This step took five days for me. At this point you are done with the USCIS and are now dealing with the Juarez embassy. Since you're doing DCF you also get to skip the NVC phase, saving you months of waiting. Juarez will assume the NVC's responsibilities for your case.
Once Juarez receives your packet they will assign a case number and mail you a Packet 3 letter. They will unfortunately do this via snail mail. This added an additional 5 days to my process. The packet 3 letter is short, less than one page, and includes the following information:
- Your case number
- Your invoice number. DCF filers' invoice numbers should their birthdate in YYYY/MM/DD format.
- Instructions on completing the DS-260
- Instructions for scheduling your own biometrics and interview appointments
- Instructions for scheduling your medical exam
- A link to https://mx.usembassy.gov/visas/instructions-for-immigrant-visa-applicants/ that specifies what documents you'll need to gather for your interview.
Your case number should be in the following format: CDJ2017XXXYYY. CDJ is the three digit code for the Juarez embassy. 2017 is the year your case was processed. XXX will be the julian date that your case was assigned. The julian date is simply the number of days since January 1st of that year. YYY corresponds to the number assigned to your case on the day it was processed. So if your case is the 5th case processed on Feb. 1st 2017, your case number will be CDJ2017032005.
You'll have to complete a DS-260 before your interview. The DS-260 is completed entirely online and you'll only need to print the confirmation page. The DS-260 can be found at https://ceac.state.gov/IV/Login.aspx and should take you about an hour to complete. Once you're done be sure to print and email the confirmation to yourself, you'll need it for your interview and biometrics appointment.
As you're a DCF filer you do not need to pay the fee yet or assign an agent. In fact, the system will not allow you to.
Scheduling your biometric and interview appointments
You can schedule both your interview and biometrics appointment at https://ais.usvisa-info.com/en-mx/iv. The biometrics appointment must be scheduled before the interview.
If you initially can't find an appointment don't freak out. Appointments go quickly and they only open up a single month block at a time. I noticed that appointments for a particular month became available about 9 weeks prior. September appointments became available starting around June 22 - June 25, and October appointments became available around July 22 - July 25.
Important: Constantly check the site for cancelled appointments. I was initially only able to schedule an appointment for Sept 21. After refreshing the site constantly for days I was able to reschedule to Sept 11 and then Aug 15
Scheduling your medical appointment
There are only three authorized clinics in Mexico. Two are in Ciudad Juarez and one is in Mexico City. More information about the medical exam can be found here: https://mx.usembassy.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/25/2017/06/CDJ_Mexwide-202-CDJ-439-JUN2017-ENG-.pdf. Note that if you reside in the state of Mexico or Mexico city, you must schedule your exam at MEDICOS ESPECIALIZADOS INTERNACIONALES.
I scheduled mine at Servicios Medicos de la Frontera based on slightly higher Google ratings. The clinics in Juarez are right next to each other, about half a block from the embassy, and both are new. You should be fine with either one, but be sure to check out the VJ reviews at http://www.visajourney.com/reviews/index.php?cnty=Mexico&cty=&dfilter=5.
The list of required documents can be found at https://mx.usembassy.gov/visas/instructions-for-immigrant-visa-applicants/. Some are self explanatory, so I'll only focus on the others.
Please make sure your passport is valid and has 6+ months of validity left from the date the visa is issued. We saw at least one person get turned away at the medical for having an expired passport.
You'll pay the fee at the embassy immediately before the interview
This is definitely required, at least on the day we went. There was an officer verifying documents at the door and he was absolutely checking for the police certificate. The police certificate is called "Carta de No Antecedentes Penales" or "Constancia de No Antecedentes Penales" in Mexico. We obtained ours from this office in Guadalajara: https://www.google.com.mx/maps/place/Unidad+Administrativa+Las+%C3email@example.com,-103.4170838,20z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x66868360c01383e!8m2!3d20.631182!4d-103.416907?hl=en for around MXN$60. The process should be similar for your state. More information about Jalisco can be found here: http://tramites.jalisco.gob.mx/tramite/5097.
You'll likely need to present any current visa. My wife had a B1/B2 visa at the time of filing and was asked for it during the interview. The officer took it and we never got it back, so be ready to surrender your current visa.
You'll need to fill this out, print it, and take it with you to the interview. Specific questions, examples, and guides can be found on VJ. The form and instructions can be found at: https://www.uscis.gov/i-864.
Part 3 can be the simplest yet the most nerve-racking step in the process. The beneficiary will have to travel to the embassy in Juarez for two days at minimum for their appointments.
Medical exam appointment
You can find reviews detailing the medical exam on VJ at http://www.visajourney.com/reviews/index.php?cnty=Mexico&cty=&dfilter=5. As for us, My wife's appointment was at 6 am at Servicios Medicos de la Frontera. The process was simple and streamlined, taking about 1.5 hours total. She had her vaccination card from childhood, but it was not accepted. She was required to take three shots. We were told the results would be ready at 3:30pm but we showed up at 3:00 and the results were available. You'll receive a sealed black envelope with your results. Do not open this envelope. You'll need present it unopened at your interview.
Note that some VJers have reported the need for scheduling the medical earlier than one day before the interview, especially when children are involved. Be sure to call the clinic and schedule accordingly.
Bring your Packet 3 letter and your passport.
The clinics in Juarez are right next to each other. You can see them on the map here: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-106.4049261,19.15z?hl=en.
Your biometrics appointment will be at the Applicant Service Center, only a few steps from the embassy and about a 5 minute walk from the clinics. This process is very quick and there are no lines. No need to show up early. Bring your passport, DS-260 confirmation, and Packet 3 letter. No phones, purses, hats, etc.
You can find detailed experiences on VJ at http://www.visajourney.com/reviews/index.php?cnty=Mexico&cty=&dfilter=5. Bring everything listed on https://mx.usembassy.gov/visas/instructions-for-immigrant-visa-applicants/. The petitioner will not be allowed to enter, even though the instructions say that it is recommended that they accompany you. Cell phones are not allowed. If you have everything in order then you'll be fine. Your documents will be looked over once or twice before your actual interview. My wife was at the embassy for a total of 3 hours, but her actual interview was only about 2 minutes, resulting in approval.
There is no part 4, you're done!
Well, technically you still have to wait on DHL to deliver your visa to your designated location. But at this point you are done with nearly all of the administrative work. Be sure to check out VJ for point of entry reviews and what do to once you're in the US.
As far as what to expect after your interview:
You should receive your passport and Visa within 10 business days. We received ours at the DHL in Guadalajara in exactly 1 week. The visa will arrive in a DHL package which you can open. Inside will be your passport with the stamped visa, 2 pages detailing how to pay the immigrant fee, and a manila envelope with all of your documents. It is important that you do not open this envelope. The envelope may have a corner cut off, which is ok, but do not open it any further. You will have to present this package unaltered to the CBP officer during your POE.
Note: Some users are reportedly not receiving the sealed package with their visa. This is because this package is now being forwarded electronically. If you do not receive the sealed package then simply show up at your POE and the officer should be able to pull up your package on their computer.
Paying Immigrant Fee
At the time of writing the immigrant fee is USD$220. You'll receive instructions with your package about how to pay it online. Instructions can also be found here https://www.uscis.gov/file-online/uscis-immigrant-fee.
After receiving your visa and paying the fee you are free to travel to the US through any international port of entry (POE). This includes physical borders such as CD Juarez/El Paso and international airports. Be sure to add in enough time between connections as the POE process may take a few hours, though it can take as little as 20 minutes. You can read others' POE experience at http://www.visajourney.com/reviews/poereviews.php .
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NOTE: The above information does not address the specific requirements for any given case and is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.