To visit or stay in the United States, many residents of different countries require a visa. A visa is a stamp in your passport that gives you the right to travel to different countries. With a US visa, you can plan to visit or reside in the United States.
A US visa does not grant you entry into the United States. It does allow the officer entering the U.S. to detain you and send you back for cause. Common reasons include security concerns and other claims. However, if you meet all requirements and pose no threat to the U.S. or its residents or visitors, you will be allowed to enter the U.S. on a visa.
There are many different types of visas in the U.S., but there are two main categories:
- U.S. nonimmigrant visas
- U.S. Immigrant Visas
In this article we will talk about U.S. immigrant visas, what these visas are and the different types of visas.
What is an Immigrant Visa?
An immigrant visa gives the holder the right to live permanently in the United States. While a U.S. nonimmigrant visa requires you to return to your home country after the visa expires, an immigrant visa has no expiration date. It allows you to live, work, study, or engage in any activity in the United States.
Once you have an immigrant visa, you do not have to renew or extend it. As long as you do not engage in illegal activities in the United States and your immigrant visa is not revoked, your visa is valid forever. Although an immigrant visa does not obligate you to stay in the U.S., it allows you to enter and leave the U.S. whenever you want as long as you have a valid re-entry permit, and you do not have to worry about your visa being revoked.
In addition, if you have been in the U.S. for a certain period of time without any violations, you can apply for citizenship and, if approved, become a U.S. citizen.
What are the U.S Immigrant Visa Types?
As with U.S. nonimmigrant visas, there are different types of U.S. immigrant visas. There are different categories depending on how the permanent resident visa is obtained. There are two main types of immigrant visas.
- Immediate family and family sponsored.
- Employer Sponsored Visas
Immediate Relative and Family Sponsored Visas
Immediate relatives and family immigrant visas mean that you are joining immediate family members who are permanent residents of the United States. This can be your parents, fiancé(e), or spouse. If you have family in the U.S. or are engaged or married to a U.S. citizen, you may be eligible for an immigrant visa in this category.
The following table shows the names of the Immediate Relative and Family Sponsored visas and a brief description of each.
IR-1, CR-1 Visa: US Spouse Visas
The first category is the U.S. marriage visa. These visas are issued to individuals who are legally married to a U.S. citizen. Simply living together is not enough to be considered married, you must prove your marriage through documentation.
There are two types of spousal visas
- Conditional Resident (CR-1) Visa – This means that you have just married and will remain in conditional status for two years. This is to prevent marriages that are for the sole purpose of obtaining permanent residency in the United States.
- Immediate Relative (IR-1) Visa – Married for two years, permanent resident status without the conditions of a CR-1 visa.
K-1 Visa: Fiance Visa USA
The K1 visa is granted to a fiancé(e) of a U.S. citizen to travel to the U.S. for 90 days; during the 90-day stay, the fiancé(e) may marry and apply for a spouse visa.
K-2 Visa: Children of K-1 Visa Holders
The K-2 visa is granted to unmarried children (fiancés of U.S. citizens) under the age of 21 of a K-1 visa holder.
K-3 Visa: Spouse of a Green Card Holder
This visa was created to shorten the time one spouse must be separated from the other while waiting for petition approval.
When a foreign national and a U.S. citizen marry, they file a petition for a spouse visa. While this petition is being processed, the spouse can obtain a K-3 visa and live in the United States.
K-4 Visa: Children of K-3 Visa Holders
This visa is for unmarried children under the age of 21 of a K-3 visa holder, i.e., the child of a U.S. citizen spouse.
IR-3, IH-3, IR-4, IH-4: Intercountry Adoption of Orphan Children by U.S Citizens
This group of visas is for use when a U.S. citizen adopts a child from a country other than the United States.
- The IH-3 visa is for those adopting from a Hague Convention country; children who receive an IH-3 visa can enter
- the United States and become U.S. citizens. This citizenship is automatic only for children who were under the age of 18 when they first entered the United States.
- The IH-4 visa is the same as the IH-3 visa, but the child does not acquire U.S. citizenship immediately upon entry into the U.S., but only after the adoption is finalized.
- The IR3 visa is granted to children after the adoption process is complete; children under the age of 18 automatically acquire citizenship upon their first entry into the United States.
- The IR4 visa is for children whose adoption is finalized after they enter the United States. Initially, the parents become the legal guardians of the child and complete the adoption process once the child is in the United States.
IR-2, CR-2, IR-5, F-1, F-3, F-4: Certain Family Members of U.S Citizens
This group of visas is for family members of U.S. citizens or those family members who wish to marry.
- IR2 visas are for unmarried children under 21 of IR-1 visa holders or the spouses of U.S. citizens.
- CR-2 visas are for unmarried children under 21 of CR-1 visa holders who are spouses of U.S. citizens. To be eligible for this visa, the couple must have been married for less than two years.
- The IR5 visa is for parents of U.S. citizens over the age of 21.
- The F-1 visa is for unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children, with a cap of 23,400.
- F3 visas are available for married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children and spouses, with a cap of 23,400.
- The F4 visa is for siblings of U.S. citizens, their minor children and spouses and has a cap of 65,000. To apply for this visa, the U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years old.
F-2A, F-2B: Certain Family Members of Lawful Permanent Residents
The F-2 visa is for minor children, spouses, and unmarried children of immigrant visa holders.
There are two categories of this visa:
- F2A visas for spouses and children
- F2B visas for unmarried sons and daughters
Employment Sponsored Visa
The U.S. government limits the number of employment-based visas issued to approximately 140,000 per fiscal year.
The following table shows the types of employment-based visas.
Eb-1 Visa: First Priority Workers
First preference workers who receive an EB1 visa are divided into three groups:
- Outstanding professors and researchers with international recognition.
- People with exceptional skills in the arts, sciences, business, education or sports.
- Managers of multinational corporations who have worked for a U.S. branch, subsidiary, or parent company abroad for at least one of the last three years.
Eb-2 Visa: Second Priority Workers
There are two groups of workers in the employee category Eb2 visa:
- Advanced degree professionals who have a bachelor’s degree and at least five years of experience in their profession, or who have completed a bachelor’s degree or higher education.
- A person with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business.
Eb-3, EW-3 Visas: Third Priority Workers
Third preference workers include these groups.
- EB3 visa: skilled workers with two or more years of experience or training in a particular occupation who are not seasonal or temporary workers.
- Skilled workers who need at least a bachelor’s degree or equivalent U.S. degree to enter the occupation.
- EW3 Visa. Unskilled workers who do not need more than two years of experience or training to work in a particular occupation.
Eb-4 visa: Fourth Priority Workers – Certain Special Immigrants
There are a number of visas available for fourth preference workers, including.
- Religious workers (SD and SR visas).
- Broadcast workers in the U.S.
- Current or former U.S. government employees
- Iraqi employees of the U.S. government (SQ visas)
- Afghan employees of the U.S. government (SQ visa)
- Interpreters or translators for Iraqi and Afghan nationals (SI visa)
- Certain foreign medical students
- Certain family members (spouses and unmarried children) of employees of international organizations, etc.
EB5 visas: Fifth Priority Workers
The last group of EB5 visas is for investors who are willing to invest
- At least $1,000,000
- 500,000 to be invested in areas of the United States with high unemployment or in rural areas.
Based on this, there are four types of immigrant visas for investors
- C-5 visas for investors who will create jobs outside the target area
- T-5 visas for investors who will create jobs in certain rural areas or areas of high unemployment
- R-5 visas for investors who will participate in investor pilot programs outside the target area
- I-5 visas for investors participating in investor pilot programs in targeted areas.
US Immigrant Visa Application Process
The second type of U.S. visa, the immigrant visa, has different requirements for applying for a U.S. visa. When applying for a U.S. immigrant visa, the following guidelines must be followed and the application must be submitted to a U.S. consulate or embassy.
File the petitions
To apply for a family reunification visa or immigrant worker visa, a family member or employer in the United States must file a petition with USCIS. This petition will be reviewed by the appropriate agency and you will just have to wait to see if it is approved. If your petition is denied, all your efforts and payments will go down the drain and you will not be able to take any further action without an approved petition.
Once your petition is approved, you will be directed to the National Visa Center (NVC) to take further steps for your visa interview.The letter you receive from the NVC will contain the information you need to complete the application process: Your NVC case number, beneficiary ID number and NVC case number, beneficiary ID number, invoice ID number, and other important information.
Choose an agent
Your agent is your point of contact regarding your visa. To proceed with your immigrant visa application, you must formally and legally select an agent. You may choose your own agent, or you may choose an attorney, a friend, a family member, or your sponsoring employer.
To choose an agent, you must file Form DS-261, Election of Address and Agent, with NVC, which takes at least three weeks to process.
Pay the US immigrant visa fees
When you apply for a U.S. immigrant visa, you must pay at least two fees
- Immigrant visa processing fee
- Immigrant visa processing fee (Affidavit of Support).
These fees can be paid by credit card or check. You must complete this step online according to the instructions in the NVC letter. You will also need your NVC case number and billing ID number.
Submit US immigrant visa application form
If you are applying for an immigrant visa, you must complete the DS-260 (Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration). You should not complete your immigrant visa application until you have been invited for an interview and a date has been set. You will need your NVC case number, beneficiary ID number, and bill ID number to submit Form DS-260. When you submit Form DS-260, you will receive a confirmation page and a number at the bottom of the form.
At that time, you will need to enter the following personal information:
- Your full name in the English alphabet
- Full name in the alphabet of your native language
- Date of birth
- Place of birth
- Home address
- Telephone number
- Educational background
- Family information parents, spouse/former spouse, children
- Past U.S. Travel Information
You will also be asked some security and background questions.
- Medical and health information
- Criminal history information
- Security information
- Information on immgration violations
- Other, etc.
Click here to view the full DS-260 application form in PDF format so you can prepare your responses in advance.
For all applications, all answers must be in English. Most questions are mandatory, but there are also optional questions that you do not need to answer. At the bottom of the application form, there is a “Sign Application” button that you must click. If you do not click this button, your U.S. visa may be denied.
Once you have completed your application, submit it and print the confirmation page. You should bring this page with you to your interview as proof that you submitted your application.
Submit supporting documents for US immigrant visas
In addition to the normal required documents, you may be asked to submit additional documents depending on the type of immigrant visa you are applying for.
Please note that all documents must be in English and that all documents not in English must be accompanied by an official, notarized translation. These documents should be submitted to NVC based on the information provided in the letter.
Attend your interview
Based on your current information, NVC will schedule a visa interview with you and any accompanying family members. This is usually done one month in advance to give applicants time to prepare their documents and prepare for the interview. During the interview, the officer will ask you questions to determine if you are eligible for a U.S. immigrant visa and if you meet all the requirements.
What are the US Immigration Forms?
Depending on the category of immigrant you are applying for and the type of immigrant visa you are applying for, there are different forms that you will need to complete and submit during the process.
To process your immigration, someone in the United States must first submit a petition on your behalf to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). With this petition, which varies depending on the type and purpose of the visa, the petitioner is asking the U.S. government to approve the applicant’s immigrant visa. All of these forms have a fee that must be paid before the petitioner can be processed.
Below are some of the most commonly used forms in the U.S. immigration process.
Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiance
This form is filed by a U.S. citizen who is engaged to a foreign national. The couple is already engaged and the fiancé is applying for permanent residence in the United States. To shorten the time the couple is separated, the U.S. government grants the fiancé a visa to come to the United States so the couple can get married.
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
This form is used by family members who are permanent residents of the United States or U.S. citizens to petition the government for permission for an immediate relative to come to the United States. This form is used for family-sponsored immigrant visas and applies only to spouses, parents, and children, not other relatives.
Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
This form is used by employers who want to hire a foreign national as an employee. If you apply for a job in the U.S. and are hired, the employer will send you this form with information about yourself, why you are eligible to live permanently in the U.S., and why your skills are valuable.
Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
This form is used by individuals who wish to obtain a visa to invest in the U.S. economy. This visa is called an investor visa, and you must invest between $500,000 and $1,000,000 in a U.S. business and create a certain number of jobs to qualify. However, to be allowed to invest this amount, you must first apply to the U.S. government by filing this form.
Form I-800A, Determination on Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country
Many U.S. couples want to adopt a child from a foreign country, but they must go through a lengthy process before they are allowed to do so. One of the steps in the adoption process is to file these papers and have them reviewed by the U.S. government. The government determines whether or not the couple meets the criteria for adoption.
Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa Electronic Application
Anyone applying for immigration to the United States must complete this form and submit it to the U.S. Embassy. Since the U.S. government has put the application portal online, all individuals seeking to immigrate to the United States must submit the DS-260 form.
This form contains basic information such as name, address, family information, occupation and education. There is also a section where you can indicate what type of immigrant visa you are applying for and why you want to immigrate.
Once you submit this form, you will receive a confirmation page at the end and a number that you will need to save, as you may be asked to send it to the National Visa Center (NVC).
How to find U.S Immigration Services?
When you decide to apply for an immigrant visa to the U.S., you will need to use a variety of agencies and services. The services and agencies you will need depending on the visa you are applying for are as follows.
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – This is where the applicant submits their application.
- US State Department – This is the agency that reviews all applications and documents.
- National Visa Center (NVC) – Reviews approved petitions and sends an information packet with all the steps and forms needed to apply for an immigrant visa.
- U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) – This is where a company must obtain labor certification before hiring foreign employees.
- U.S. Embassy in Home Country – This is where the applicant submits the final application and has the visa interview. This step takes place after the petition and other documents are approved.
The process of applying for a U.S. immigrant visa can be lengthy and tedious, which is why many people seek help elsewhere. There are countless law firms that will help you fill out the paperwork for a fee. All you have to do is pay them a fee and sign any documents they may ask for. Because the application forms are confusing and long, many applicants hire an attorney or visa center to help them obtain an immigrant visa to the United States.
Merit Based Immigration
The current administration in the United States continues to oppose current immigration laws and regulations.
Merit-based immigration means that the criteria for obtaining a U.S. green card are based on certain accomplishments rather than chance. These include demographics, education, and job prospects.
In the U.S., this legislation is called the Reforming America’s Immigration Laws for Strong Employment (RAISE) Act; the RAISE Act point system assigns a certain number of points to each applicant based on their qualifications.
Health Insurance Coverage for Immigrants in the United States
Health insurance coverage for immigrant visa holders in the United States is the same as for U.S. citizens. Since there is no national health care system in the U.S. that covers everyone, both immigrants and U.S. citizens must purchase health insurance through private companies.
Here you can find information about the best insurance for immigrants in the United States.