Categories of Immigrant Visas
An immigrant visa is required of anyone who wishes to enter the United States to reside there permanently, whether or not that person plans to seek employment in the United States.
There are four general categories:
- Immediate Relatives
- Family Based
- Employment Based
- Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, or "green card" lottery
To file an IV petition for a family member, you must be 21 year old or older. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.
- IR1/CR1 - Spouse of a U.S. citizen
- IR2 - Minor children (under 21) of a U.S. citizen
- IR3/IH3 - Adoptive children of a U.S. citizen
- IR4/IH4 - Children to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
- IR5 - Parent of a U.S. citizen
- IW - Spouse of a deceased U.S. citizen
- K1 - Fiancée of a U.S. citizen
- K3 - Certain spouses and minor children of a U.S. citizen
- V1 - Certain spouses and children of a legal permanent resident
For information on filing immigrant visa applications for children adopted in Hong Kong, please see adoption process of Hong Kong.
Individuals seeking to file an IV petition for a family member must be 21 year old or older. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration. Please note that there are annual quotas for visas in these categories -- see the Visa Bulletin for visa waiting periods.
- F1 - Unmarried adult son or daughter of a U.S. citizen
- F2A - Spouse and minor children of a legal permanent resident
- F2B - Unmarried son or daughter of a legal permanent resident
- F3 - Married children of a U.S. citizen
- F4 - Siblings of a U.S. citizen
In most of these categories, the sponsoring employer in the U.S. must file a petition and the applicant must demonstrate that she/he has the requisite education, work experience and/or special skills.
- E1 - Priority Workers
- E2 - Professionals holding advanced degrees
- E3 - Skilled workers
- E4 - Certain special immigrants
- E5 - Investors
- SD/SR - Certain religious workers and family
The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State to provide for a new class of immigrants known as diversity immigrants (DV immigrants). Up to 50,000 permanent resident visas are given out annually to persons from countries with low immigration rates to the United States. Applicants for Diversity Visas are chosen by a computer-generated random lottery drawing. For details of the DV program, please refer to the Department of State's Diversity Lottery website.
Last modified: August 11, 2011
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