Visas are legal documents required by each country or territory to allow people to enter their borders. A visa is granted based on the laws and requirements of each country. The United States grants various types of visas and is typically classified between immigrant and non-immigrant visas. To determine the appropriate visa to file, it is vital to understand the purpose and basis of a person’s move to the United States.
It is also vital to note that numerous types of visas exist even within the immigrant classification. Each requires a specific form, fees, and supporting documentation that significantly depends on the basis and circumstances of the applicant.
What is an Immigrant?
An immigrant is a foreign national entering the United States to live here permanently. The United States requires immigrants to obtain a valid immigrant visa to enter the country.
Most types of immigrant visas issued by the United States are either through a US-citizen relative of the immigrant or employer sponsorship. However, it is essential to remember that specific qualifications and requirements greatly vary to qualify for an immigrant visa.
What Are the Types of Immigrant Visas?
Family-Based Immigrant Visas
IR1 or CR1 Spouses of US Citizens K3 Spouses of US Citizens that have a pending I-130 immigrant petition K1Fiances or fiancees of US Citizens IR3, IH3, IR4, or IH4Foreign orphaned children adopted by US Citizens IR2 / CR2 Minor children (under 21) of US Citizens IR5 Foreign-born parents of US Citizens F1 Unmarried children of US Citizens aged 21 and above F3 Married children of US Citizens, and their spouse and children of the married child. F4Siblings of US Citizens and their spouses and children.
Employment-Based Immigrant Visas
E1 For priority workers from countries where the U.S. has an existing trade relationship or those with extraordinary ability. E2 For investors or advanced degree-holding professionals from countries where the U.S. has an existing trade relationship or those with exceptional ability. E3 For the following type of non-seasonal or temporary workers:
Skilled workers whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years of training or work experience.
Professionals whose jobs require a minimum of a bachelor’s degree from a U.S. university or college or its foreign equivalent degree.
Unskilled workers can fill positions requiring less than two years of training or experience.
E4 For certain special immigrants that includes the following sub-groups:
U.S. broadcasters employed by the International Broadcasting Bureau
Certain employees or former employees of the U.S. Government
Certain former employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government
Certain foreign medical graduates.
Certain retired international organization employees, their spouses, surviving spouses, and umarried children.
Special immigrant juveniles.
Those recruited outside of the U.S. and who have served or enlisted to serve in the U.S. Armed Forces.
Certain retired NATO-6 civilians, their spouses, surviving spouses, and unmarried children.
Beneficiaries of petitions or labor certification applications filed before September 11, 2001, and whose petition and application was voided due to terrorist acts on September 11, 2001.
Afghan or Iraqi translators or interpreters.
Afghan and Iraqi nationals who worked for or on behalf of the US government.
Certain religious workers.
Special Immigrant Basis
These special immigrant visas do not require a US citizen family or employer sponsor.
Diversity Visa Program (DV)Applies to nationals from countries with relatively lower levels of recent immigration to the US. Returning Resident Visa (SB)For lawful permanent residents that remained outside of the US beyond the validity period of a re-entry permit or one year.
Where Can an Applicant Get Additional Information and Forms For Immigrant Visas?
Applicants wishing to file an immigrant visa based on a U.S. citizen family member can find more information on the requirements and a copy of the application form through the following USCIS page: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/family-immigration.html
While applicants that wish to file for an immigrant visa through the sponsorship of a U.S.-based employer can find more information and a copy of the application form through the following USCIS page: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/employment-based-immigrant-visas.html
Applicants that wish to file an immigrant visa under special circumstances that is not based on a U.S. citizen family member or a U.S.-based employer can find more information through the following USCIS pages:
For Returning Resident Visa: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/immigrate/returning-resident.html
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