How to Apply for an Immigrant Visa

Immigrant visa application

A U.S. immigrant visa is a visa for permanent stay. Immigrant visa holders are given permanent resident green cards once in the U.S.

Steps to Apply for Immigrant Visa

1Determine which immigrant visa to apply for.

There are many types of immigrant visas and each one has different eligibility requirements.

2File the appropriate immigration petition:

  • If applying for a family-based immigrant visa, the U.S. relative will file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, on behalf of the applicant.
  • If applying through an employer, the employer will file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, on behalf of the applicant.
  • Investors will file the I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur.
  • If applying through a special category, the applicant will file the I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), and Special Immigrant.
  • If applying under the Humanitarian category, the applicant will not file a petition but instead con tact USCIS to determine if any other forms are required.

3Wait for a decision from USCIS.

If approved, the application will be forwarded to the nearest U.S. consulate for processing.

4Wait for a visa number to become available.

The applicant will be notified when a visa number becomes available at which point they will be schedule d for a visa interview.

5Attend the visa interview.

The interview will take place at a U.S. consulate or embassy. A consular officer will determine whether or not the immigrant visa will be issued. The officer will ask questions about the visa application, the applicant's personal history and their reasons for wanting to live in the U.S.

6Receive an immigrant visa and travel to the U.S.

If the interview goes well, the consular officer will issue an immigrant visa which allows the applica\ t to enter the U.S. The visa will come in a "visa packet" that must be opened only by the Customs and Border Protection officer at the U.S. Port of Entry. Upon entering the U.S., the applicant will receive a visa stamp in their passport and become a lawful permanent resident.

7Receive a green card in the mail.

After entering the U.S., a green card will be mailed to the applicant.

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