Immigrant VISAs give its Holders the right to stay in the US permanently. Whereas with a US Non-Immigrant VISA, the person is required to return to their Home Country when their VISA expires (an immigrant VISA does not expire).
This kind of VISA allows you to live, work, and study in the US, or engage in any activity you like.
Note: Once you get the US Immigrant VISA, you do not need to renew it or extend it. It is valid permanently, unless you engage in an illegal activity in the US, to have your Immigrant VISA revoked.
Types Of US Immigration VISA
The US immigration VISA comes in two types,
- Immediate Relative and Family Sponsored VISAs
The Immediate Relative VISAs and Family immigrant VISAs, implies that you are joining your close Family, who lives in the US permanently. This can be your Parents, Fiancé, or Spouse. If you have Family in the US, or you become engaged or married to a US citizen, then you are eligible for this category of Immigrant VISAs.
Note: Under the immediate relative VISAs and family immigrant, there are different kinds of VISA, for example Fiancé VISA, Spouse VISA etc. When applying you will need to specify.
- Employment Sponsored VISA
The US employer sponsored VISAs, are immigrant VISAs which allow its holders to work permanently in the US. The US Government limits the number of employment-based VISAs that they give to around 140,000 per fiscal year. Also take note that the US employer sponsored VISA has various kinds of VISA in it too.
How To Apply for US Immigration VISA
The US Immigrant VISA Application procedures are tougher than the non-immigrants VISA application procedures. It could be stressful sometimes, but for a successful application, you have to follow the following steps.
File The Petitions
If you are applying for an Immigrant VISA based on Family reunion or employment, the Family or Employer in the US must submit a petition for you at USCIS.
This petition will be reviewed by the responsible Authority, and you must only wait to find out whether it will be approved or not.
You cannot take any further steps without an approved petition, since if it is denied, all your efforts and payments will not be counted.
If your petition is approved, you will be directed to the National VISA Center (NVC), which will require you to go through more steps, in order to get to your VISA interview.
You will receive a letter from the NVC, which will have important information that guides you through the application process. Amongst that important information are your NVC Case Number, Beneficiary ID Number, and Invoice ID Number.
Choose An Agent
You must formally and legally select an Agent, to be able to proceed with the immigration VISA application.
The Agent will serve as your point of contact for your VISA matters. You can choose yourself as an Agent, or you can choose an Attorney, friend, family member, or sponsoring employer.
Note: To choose your Agent, you must file Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent to the NVC which will take at least 3 weeks to be processed.
Pay the US Immigration VISA fees
There are at least two fees you have to pay when applying for a US immigrant VISA:
- Immigrant VISA Application Processing Fee
- Affidavit of Support Fee
You can pay these fees by credit card or check, and you will need to complete this step online based on the guidance found in your NVC letter.
Note: You will also need your NVC Case Number and Invoice ID Number to proceed with this step.
Submit US Immigrant VISA Application Form
You should fill Form DS-260, if you are applying for an Immigrant VISA.
Ensure that you do not complete your Immigrant VISA application, until you are invited for the interview and your date is current.
To file for the Form DS-260 you will need your NVC Case Number, Beneficiary ID Number, and Invoice ID Number. At the end when you submit it, you will get a confirmation page and number.
Personal details you need to give:
- Full Name in English characters
- Full name in Native Alphabet
- Date of Birth
- Place of Birth
- Home Address
- Phone number
- Family information: Parents, spouse/previous spouse, children
- Previous US Travel Information
Other questions related to the following are required.
- Medical and Health information,
- Criminal Information
- Security Information
- Immigration law violation information
- Miscellaneous, etc.
Download the DS-260 Application Form here https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/VISAs/DS-260%20Exemplar
Note: All answers must be in English, with English letters, in both Application Forms.
At the end of the application, there is a “Sign Application” button which you should click on. If you do not click on this button, it may result in US VISA refusal.
After you fulfill the form, submit it and print the confirmation page. Take this page with you when you attend the interview as proof of submitting the application.
Apart from the standard required documents, depending on the type of Immigrant VISA you are applying for, you might be asked to submit additional ones.
US Immigration VISA Interview
Based on your current date, the NVC will schedule your VISA interview with you, and any accompanying family members.
This is usually done one month in advance, to give applicants time to prepare documents and prepare for the interview.
At the interview, you will be asked questions by an official, and it will be determined whether you are eligible and meet all the requirements for a US Immigrant VISA.
US Immigration VISA Forms
Based on which category of Immigration and which type of Immigrant VISA you want to apply for, there will be several forms that you must fill out, and submit during the process.
For the immigration process, someone from the US must first send out a petition on your behalf to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
This petition is different, depending on the type of VISA and purpose. But it means that the petitioner is asking the US Government to approve the applicant for an immigrant VISA.
All of these forms have fees that your petitioner must pay before they can get processed.
The Following Are Some Of The Forms
Form I-129F, Petition for Alien Fiancé
This form is sent out by a US Citizen, who is engaged to a person from a foreign Country. The couple is already engaged and they have filed their documents for the Fiancé to come to the US permanently.
To shorten the time that the couple has to be apart, the US Government will give the fiancé a VISA to come to the US so the couple can get married.
Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
This form is used by any Family member, who is a US Permanent Resident or Citizen, to petition the Government to approve an immediate Family member to come to the US.
This is used for family sponsored immigration VISAs and is only for spouses, parents, or children and does not apply for other extended family members.
Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker
This form is used by Employers, who want to hire a person from a foreign Country as an employee. If you apply for a Job in the US and are hired, the employer will send this form with your information, and reasons why you should be allowed to come to the US to work permanently and why your skills are valuable.
Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
This form is used by those who want to invest in the US Economy, and get a VISA that way. These are called investor VISAs, and the person must invest from $500,000 to $1 million in a US Company, and create a certain number of jobs to get this VISA. However, they must first petition the US Government by submitting this form to be allowed to invest that amount.
Form I-800A, Determination on Suitability to Adopt a Child from a Convention Country
Many US couples want to adopt children from Foreign Countries, and before they are allowed to do that, they must go through a lengthy process. One of the steps in this process includes filing this form so that they can get inspected by the US Government. The Government decides whether the couple fulfills the criteria to adopt a child.
Form DS-260, Immigrant VISA Electronic Application
This form is the one that all those who are applying for US Immigration must fill and submit, to the US Embassy.
Since the US Government moved their application portals online, all those seeking to immigrate in the Country, must submit a Form DS-260.
This form collects your basic information such as your Name, Address, Family information, Employment and Education details and so on.
It also gives you space to state, for which type of Immigrant VISA you are applying for and why you want to Immigrate. At the end when you submit this form, it will give you a confirmation page and number, which you need to save since you might be asked to send it to the National VISA Center (NVC).
Where To Apply For The US Immigrant VISA
When you decide to apply for a US Immigrant VISA, you will have to go through different Institutions and services to complete this task.
The services and Institutions you will have to go through depending on your VISA can be as follows:
- US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) – is the place where your petitioner must submit the petition forms for the applicants.
- US State Department – is the Institution, which will go through various application forms and documents.
- National VISA Center (NVC) – will go through your approved petition and send you an informative package with all the necessary steps and forms you must take, to apply for the Immigrant VISA.
- US Department of Labor (DOL) – is the place where companies must get their labor certification before they are allowed to hire an employee from a foreign country.
- US Embassy in your Home Country – is where the applicant submits their final application and has the VISA interview. This step is conducted only after the petition and other documents have been approved.