Immigrate (Immigrant visa)

Foreign citizens who want to live permanently in the United States must first obtain an immigrant visa. This is the first step to becoming a lawful permanent resident.

Immigrating to the United States is an important and complex decision. In this section, you will learn about who may immigrate to the United States, the different types of immigrant visas, the required forms, and the steps in the immigrant visa process. Because most immigrants receive visas in the family or employment based visa categories, they are a key focus of this section. To be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative, U.S. lawful permanent resident, or a prospective employer, with a few exceptions, explained below. The sponsor begins the immigration process by filing a petition on the foreign citizen’s behalf with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

  • Family-Based Visas
  • Intercountry Adoption Visas
  • Employment-Based Visas
  • Special Immigrant Visas
  • Diversity Visa

The chart below contains different purposes for immigrating to the United States, and the related immigrant visa categories for which information is available on this website. Select a visa category below to learn more:

Immediate Relative & Family Sponsored Visa Category
Spouse of a U.S. Citizen IR1, CR1
Spouse of a U.S. Citizen awaiting approval of an I-130 immigrant petition K-3 *
Fiancé(e) to marry U.S. Citizen & live in U.S. K-1 *
Intercountry Adoption of Orphan Children by U.S. Citizens IR3, IH3, IR4, IH4
Certain Family Members of U.S. Citizens IR2, CR2, IR5, F1, F3, F4
Certain Family Members of Lawful Permanent Residents F2A, F2B
Employer Sponsored – Employment
Employment-Based Immigrants, including  (preference group):

[First] Priority workers

[Second] Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability

[Third] Professionals and Other Workers

[Fifth] Employment Creation/Investors

[Fourth] Certain Special Immigrants:

E1
E2E3, EW3C5, T5, R5, I5S (many**)
Religious Workers SD, SR
Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters SI
Iraqis Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government SQ
Afghans Who Worked for/on Behalf of the U.S. Government SQ
Other Immigrants
Diversity Immigrant Visa DV
Returning Resident SB

Important Notes:

*K Visas – Listed with immigrant visas because they are for immigration related purposes.

About this chart – This chart is a list of many immigrant visa categories, but not every immigrant visa category.

 
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