Determining which form of visa is best for your case and effectively navigating the procedure can be difficult, so speaking with an experienced immigration lawyer can be the first step.
Foreign citizens wishing to access the United States must usually procure a visa.
Visas are categorized into two types:
- Immigrant visa
- Nonimmigrant visa
Immigrant visas are granted to aliens requesting permanent status in the United States, while nonimmigrant visas allow for a brief stay for a particular reason.
What is an immigrant visa?
Foreign citizens seeking entry to the United States as refugees take one of two paths, based on where they live at the time of registration.
Foreign citizens living overseas apply for an immigrant visa at a Department of State consular office.
They will enter the United States with a visa and become permanent residents after they travel through the port of entry.
Immigrants already in the United States, including some undocumented aliens, guest jobs, overseas tourists, and refugees, apply with the Bureau of US Citizenship and Immigration Services to change status (to lawful permanent residence) (USCIS).
Applicants can apply for work permits at the same time they apply for adjustment of status.
New legal immigrants can lawfully serve and obtain alien identity cards when they are lawful permanent residents (green cards).
New legal immigrants can lawfully serve and obtain alien identity cards when they are lawful permanent residents (green cards).
Classifications of Immigrant Visa
Family-Based Immigrant Visas
An immigrant visa may be issued to the following members of a US citizen’s family:
A current green card holder may apply for an immigrant visa for his or her:
- Unmarried child
However, not all of these applications are given fair consideration.
Most notably, there are no restrictions on the number of visas issued under such groups.
Immediate relatives of US people are not required to wait for visas.
There are few examples:
- Parents of a 21-year-old or older US resident
- A US citizen’s companion
- Unmarried children under the age of 21 of a US resident
- Other qualified relatives, such as brothers, mothers, and children who are married or over the age of 21, and relatives of permanent legal residents of the United States, may have to wait for a visa to become valid.
And below are the preferences for people subject to visa restrictions:
- The first preference is given to unmarried offspring of a US citizen who did not apply for the no-limit group because they are 21 or older.
- The Second Preference is given to minor (under 21) unmarried daughters of permanent legal residents or children of permanent legal residents who are unmarried adults (21 or older).
- The third preference is for Married children of US residents and the spouse and children of said child.
- The fourth preference is given to Adult US residents’ siblings and their spouses and children.
Employment-Based Immigrant Visas
Certain types of workers may be eligible for permanent residency depending on their occupation or a career offer.
However, unlike family-based visas, all employment-based immigrant visas are subject to restrictions.
That means the person hoping to become a legal resident may have to wait before an immigrant visa number becomes eligible.
Immigrant visa numbers are assigned to candidates depending on their jobs based on the following priorities:
- Immigrants with exceptional abilities
- Prominent researchers and professors
- Certain multinational managers and executives
- Members in occupations with advanced degrees
- Individual of extraordinary abilities
- Skilled workers
- Other qualified workers
- Special immigrants for those in religious vocations
- entrepreneurs and investors who will create jobs
Wait times will differ considerably depending on whether you apply for an employment-based visa or one of the family-based categories that involves waiting for a visa number to become eligible.
In addition to the preference mentioned above rankings, the timeframe will be influenced by the applicant’s priority date and the country to which the visa will be paid.
Other Immigrant Visa Requirements
Some special programs make it possible for those who do not fit into either of the groups above to apply for a green card.
If you are interested in immigrating to the United States, taking a family member who is not mentioned above to the United States, or securing residency for an employee who is not otherwise listed, consult with an immigration specialist to learn more about the possible paths to permanent residence.
How to apply for an immigrant visa?
Submitting a Petition
Consider hiring a lawyer.
The immigration application process is complicated, and many of the forms can be challenging to understand. A skilled immigration lawyer in the United States will help you through the process to ensure that all papers are correctly filled out and submitted.
Because any immigration case is unique, you can also ensure that the council has prior experience in your application form.
For example, if you want to immigrate to the United States and have a work offer, you should generally avoid hiring an attorney specialising in fiancé visa applications.
Look for an attorney who is a member of the American Immigrant Lawyers’ Association, a specialized body for experienced immigration attorneys. You can also review the background of any solicitor you’re thinking of recruiting through the state bar association of the state where he or she is certified.
Confirm that the solicitor is reputable and does not have any severe allegations or criminal history.
You should meet with some lawyers for free to see what they can do for you and observe their demeanour and how they handle their customers.
Choose a sponsor
Your sponsor would most likely be a US resident who is your partner, relative, infant, or sibling.
Legal permanent residents may also support their wives or unmarried children.
If you are filing for immigration and have a position in the United States, your sponsor might also be your boss.
Both sponsors must be at least 18 years old and reside in the United States or its territories or dependencies, either as an individual, a US national, or a lawful permanent resident.
Have your sponsor fill out the required form.
Form I-130 must be completed by a relative sponsor, while an employer sponsor must complete form I-140.
Submit the petition to the USCIS.
Your sponsor must file the petition on your behalf at the proper USCIS processing location by mailing it through USPS. The USCIS has two Lockbox facilities where Form I-130 can be filed.
The state in which your sponsor resides determines whether he or she must file the petition in Phoenix or Chicago. A $420 filing fee shall accompany Form I-130. The location where your supporter files Form I-140 depends on whether he or she is filing the form alone or in conjunction with other forms. $580 filing fee shall accompany Form I-140.
The USCIS can take up to 30 days to process your petition and give you a notice of approval.
If accepted, your petition will be forwarded to the Department of State’s National Visa Center. And if the USCIS accepts your visa appeal, it could be months or even years before you receive a visa number and the NVC starts reviewing your submission.
That is since US law restricts the number of immigrant visas available per year based on your immigrant category and country of citizenship.
Select an agent.
Your representative is the one who gets reports and notices about your immigration application from the NVC. You have the authority to serve as your lawyer. You can, however, choose to choose your petitioner/sponsor, another family member, or your solicitor. Regardless of how you want to serve as your agent, you must fill out a DS-261 form to notify the USCIS and the NVC of your decision – even though you choose to act as your agent.
This form is accessible at the Consular Electronic Application Center of the United States Department of State (CEAC)
Pay your processing fees.
Processing fees on your immigrant visa application and affidavit of support must be paid. The sum due will be reported on the invoice that came with your NVC welcome note.
This number varies according to immigration status and other factors.
The fastest way to pay your payments is online, but you must have a checking or savings account at a US bank to do so.
To make a charge, you must enter the account’s routing number and account number. Online payments will take up to five days to process.
Apply for visa
Copy of Form DS-260.
Form DS-260, Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration, is the document that starts the visa application process. While you can complete and upload the form using the CEAC, you can download a copy of the form before you begin filling it out to know what detail is needed.
Fill out Form DS-260.
To begin the procedure, you must sign in to CEAC with your NVC case number and invoice ID number.
When your account opens, you’ll see a list of applications associated with your case name.
If you are the only immigrant to the United States, then your name will be identified.
If your partner or children are still immigrating, you will both be assigned the same case number.
You will save the details you’ve entered at any time after starting the application. If there is no operation for 20 minutes, the machine will log you out, and you will delete all unsaved information you have entered.
The application requires personal details such as your name and date of birth, marital status, and nationality.
You must also enter your current and previous addresses, as well as your job records.
The application then asks for family details such as the names, dates, and places of birth of your parents, spouse, and children.
You may also address questions about past travel to the United States, your job and educational history. This individual filed the petition on your behalf, personal and legal history, criminal record, and other security documents.
If you’ve answered all of the questions absolutely, you should electronically sign the form and send it to the NVC. When you successfully submit your application, a confirmation page will appear. You must print this article and bring it with you to your visa interview.
Complete an affidavit of help
The affidavit of support is a written contract under which the sponsor states that he or she has the financial resources to support you and agrees to do so. In most cases, an affidavit of support is needed before the NVC can begin processing the visa application.
Your visa category determines the type of affidavit of sponsorship required by your sponsor.
Along with the affidavit of encouragement, the supporter must have financial documentation to back up the statements made in the affidavit.
Typically, your sponsor would send you the affidavit and supporting papers, although, in certain circumstances, the officer investigating your case can order him or her to apply them directly to the NVC.
Submit your application
Gather all your necessary documents. After you’ve compiled all of the relevant documentation, you must send them to the NVC in one box. You will be able to choose between sending your documents via email or mailing them in. Bear in mind, though, that if you’ve decided on a method, you can’t change your mind and choose the other method later. After the NVC receives your paperwork, it can take up to 30 days to check your application.
Notified of your interview date
After reviewing your application, if the NVC decides that your file is valid, it will mail you an interview appointment note.
This letter will also be addressed to your sponsor and, whether you have one, your lawyer or solicitor.
Keep in mind that you will have to wait several months before an appointment period becomes open.
Meanwhile, the NVC will forward the whole case, including your petition, questionnaire, and supporting documentation, to the US embassy or consulate where your interview will occur.
Complete a medical examination.
Before the day of your interview, you must have a medical test from an authorized physician and have the necessary vaccines.
Following your test, the doctor will send you a sealed envelope containing your medical report. Please do not open this envelope.
Other doctors can forward your report to the US embassy or consulate where your interview is scheduled. For your physical test, you must bring your vaccine immunization records, copies of your previous chest X-rays, and copies of your medical history.
Go to the nearest American embassy or consulate.
On the day of your interview, you will speak with a consular officer who will speak to you about your case, review your file, and decide whether to issue you a visa.
Bring the relevant paperwork with you, as well as an unexpired passport valid for at least six months past the date you wish to reach the United States. You would also have two similar colour portraits of yourself taken during the last six months.
Find out if your application has been accepted.
The officer will inform you whether your application was accepted or rejected after the interview.
If your application is accepted, you may show the consular officer your passport.
Your passport will be returned to you along with your visa and a sealed immigration package to be shown to US Customs and Border Protection upon your arrival. If your visa application is denied, the consular officer can clarify whether you are unavailable for an immigrant visa.
If the application needs further details or processing before it is processed, you will be notified of any further steps.
- The Visa Application Centre stamped the DS-260 validation page.
- Current and all previous passports, as well as the Regional Passport Office’s Police Clearance Certificate.
- Medical review report Supporting Documents (depending on the Visa type)