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Immigrant Visas

Department of State Announcement

Immigrant Visas (IVs) allow a citizen of another country to enter the United States to live and work there on a permanent basis.  Except for Diversity Visas (DVs), all IVs are require a petition to be filed with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services through the Department of Homeland Security.

Under U.S. law, IVs are generally reserved for persons who are either close relatives of U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents, or who have been hired to work in jobs that the government has determined cannot be filled by U.S. citizens due to a shortage of Americans with the skills needed to perform these jobs.  Most immigration to the United States is initiated by a close relative or employer who submits a petition on the applicant’s behalf in the United States.

Diversity Visas (DVs) are issues as part of a lottery program which is governed by very strict rules of entry and issuance.  Applicants must be selected as part of a random drawing in order to qualify for further processing. 

For more information regarding DVs, please see the official DV website.

For more information regarding rules and procedures, legal permanent residency, petition-based visas of all types, and forms, please visit the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services website or the Bureau of Consular Affairs website

The following websites may also be helpful for more information on types of visas, entry procedures and consular services

  1. The Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) Immigrant Visa Website 
  2. The Visa Bulletin
  3. Department of State Immigration and Registration Website

A Note Regarding Visa Availability

The issuance of family sponsored and employment based preference visas is numerically limited by congress.  Interviews for applicants in these categories are scheduled when the applicant’s priority date becomes current and visa numbers are available. However, priority dates may change, and it is possible that at the time of the interview, visa numbers may no longer be available.  If visa numbers are no longer available for your visa category, your interview will proceed as scheduled, but your visa not be issued until the priority date again becomes current and new numbers are available.  Applicants should check the Visa Bulletin on the Department of State’s website for up to date information on priority dates for all immigrant visa categories.

For information on sponsoring family members for immigrant visas, USCIS provides extremely useful guides.

Important Information to Fiancé, and Marriage-Based Visa applicants regarding the “Legal Rights Available to Immigrant Victims of Domestic Violence in the United States and Facts about Immigrating on a Marriage-Based Visa” here

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