Immigrant Visas to the United States

Foreign nationals in general may need a visa to visit or live in the United States. Only nationals from countries participating in the Visa Waiver Program do not need a visa before arriving in the US.

A visa is a stamp or document in your passport that gives you the right to travel to the US. We help handle application processing for US Immigrant Visas, reducing errors and boosting your chances of visa acceptance.

It is important to note that a US Visa does not automatically grant you entry into the United States. Your visa application may be accepted, but you will still be subject to examination when you arrive in the USA. Your entry status will be determined by officials at any US point of entry.

Generally, your entry to the United States will be approved if you meet all of the entry requirements. In addition to those requirements, you may not pose a threat to the United States, its residents or visitors.

There are multiple types of US Visas, ranging from K-1 Fiancée Visas to temporary work permit visas. Generally, US Visas are separated into two major categories:

This page focuses specifically on United States Immigrant Visas.

What Is an Immigrant Visa?

Immigrant Visas are for foreign nationals that wish to live permanently in the US. It is the first step to become a lawful permanent resident, also known as a Green Card holder.

Green Card holders are allowed to live and work in the US while their visa is valid. Some Immigrant Visas do not contain an expiration date, but the majority are valid for 10 years. Contrary to Non-immigrant visa holders, Green Card holders are not required to leave the USA upon visa validity expiration.

Permanent resident status can be revoked for reasons such as immigration fraud, abandonment of the status or criminal activity.

With a Green Card you can travel in and out of the United States anytime you like. They are valid for re-entry to the US after traveling abroad if your stay is less than 1 year. A re-entry permit is required If your trip will last longer than 1 year.

Immigrant Visas holders can apply for US citizenship after five years of living in the United States as a permanent resident.

Types of US Immigrant Visas

The two major categories of US immigrant visas include:

  • Immediate Relative and Family Sponsored US Immigrant Visas
  • Employer-Sponsored US Immigrant Visas

What Is an Immediate Relative and Family Sponsored Visa?

An Immediate Relative and Family Sponsored Visa allows you to join a close family permanently living in the United States. You may be eligible to apply if your parents, fiancé or spouse is currently a permanent resident of the US.

There are multiple types of Immediate Relative and Family Sponsored Visas. You need to choose the correct visa, depending on which family member is living in the United States.

Below, you’ll find the names of all available Immediate Relative and Family Sponsored US Immigrant Visas, along with a brief description of each.

IR-1, CR-1: Spouse of a US Citizen

A foreign national married to a US citizen may qualify for a marriage visa. Marriage visas are officially called CR-1 or IR-1 visas. You must be legally married to a US citizen to qualify – you cannot merely be living together. Immigration officials will require legal, documented proof of your marriage.

The two types of spouse visas include:

Conditional Resident (CR-1) Visa: Your permanent resident status will be considered conditional if you have been married for less than two years at the time you enter the US on an Immigrant Visa. The conditional status seeks to prevent marriages made with the main purpose of evading US immigration laws.

To remove the conditional status, both spouses must apply together to the USCIS. It must be done within the ninety days before the two-year anniversary of the date of entry. The two-year anniversary of legally entering the US is also the date of expiration of the Green Card.

If you have been married for longer than two years, then you may still be issued a CR-1 visa while your IR-1 visa is processed, which typically takes 2-3 months.

Immediate Relative (IR-1) Visa: After two years of marriage, you can gain permanent status without the conditions of the CR-1 visa.


K-1: Fiancé(e) Planning to Marry a US Citizen and Live in the US

If you are engaged to a US citizen and planning to live in the United States, then you may apply for a K-1 visa. This visa allows you to enter the United States for the purpose of marriage for 90 days. After you’re married, you can start filing the paperwork for a spouse visa.

K-2: Children of a K-1 Visa Holder

If you’re engaged to a citizen of the United States and have children, then your children may apply for a K-2 visa. The K-2 visa is given to unmarried children of K-1 visa holders. The visa is only available to children under 21 years of age.

K-3: Spouse of a U.S. Citizen Awaiting I-130 Immigrant Petition Approval

A K-3 visa is a U.S. immigrant visa designed to reduce the length of time a married couple is away from one another while waiting for I-130 immigrant petition approval. If you are a foreign citizen and married a U.S. citizen, then you may file a petition to get your spouse visa (like the IR-1 or CR-1 visas mentioned above). While your petition is being processed, you can obtain a K-2 visa that allows you to live in the United States with your spouse.

K-4: Children of a K-3 Visa Holder

If you’re married to a US citizen, have a K-3 visa, and have children of your own, then you might apply for a K-4 visa. A K-4 visa works similar to the K-2 visa: it’s applicable to any unmarried children under 21 years of age. Just like the K-3 visa, it allows your children to reside in the United States while awaiting approval of a spouse visa.

IR-3, IH-3, IR-4, IH-4: International Adoption of Orphan Children by U.S. Citizens

If you’re a U.S. citizen planning to adopt a child from overseas, then you would apply for an IR-3, IH-3, IR-4, or IH-4 visa. These four visas apply to different children in different parts of the world:

IR-3: An IR-3 visa is given to children after the adoption procedure has been completed. The child must be from a country that does not require re-adoption after entering the United States. Any children who are younger than 18 will receive automatic citizenship when they first enter the United States.

IH-3 Visa: IH-3 visas are granted to children adopted from countries that follow the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction, which is the main international agreement governing international child adoption. Approximately 100 countries worldwide have signed this agreement. Under the IH-3 visa, children are allowed to enter the United States and then receive U.S. citizenship. Citizenship is given automatically only to children under 18 years old when they enter the United States for the first time.

IR-4 Visa: The IR-4 visa is given in situations where the adoptive parents become legal guardians of the child before formally completing adoption paperwork once within the United States.

IH-4 Visa: The IH-4 visa is similar to the IH-3 visa. However, children on an IH-4 visa will not automatically receive U.S. citizenship upon entering the United States. Instead, they receive citizenship after the adoption is complete.

IR-2, CR-2, IR-5, F-1, F-3, F-4: Certain Family Members of U.S. Citizens

This group of visas allows various family members of U.S. citizens to immigrate to the United States. These family members can include children, spouses, siblings, parents, and more.

IR-2: The IR-2 visa is for the unmarried children under 21 years old of IR-1 visa holders. The IR-1 visa is given to spouses of U.S. citizens, so you must be the child of a spouse of a U.S. citizen to qualify, assuming you’re under 21 and unmarried.

CR-2 Visa: The CR-2 visa is for unmarried children under 21 years old of CR-1 visa holders. CR-1 visas are granted to the spouse of a U.S. citizen, assuming the couple has been married less than two years.

IR-5 Visa: The IR-5 visa is for the parents of a U.S. citizen who is older than 21. If you’re a U.S. citizen who wants your parents to permanently immigrate to the United States, then your parents may apply for an IR-5 visa.

F-1 Visa: The F-1 visa is given to unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens and their minor children. There’s an annual cap of 23,400 visas available, which is why there’s a long waiting list than other visas.

F-3 Visa: The F-3 visa also has a cap of 23,400. This visa is for married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens as well as their minor children and spouses.

F-4 Visa: The F-4 visa is for siblings of U.S. citizens, their minor children, and their spouses. There’s an annual cap of 65,000 F-4 visas available. The U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years of age to qualify.

F-2A, F-2B: Other Family Members of Lawful Permanent Residents

  • Other family members of lawful permanent residents of the United States may qualify for an F-2A or F-2B visa. These visas are for minor children, spouses, and unmarried children of those who have immigrant visas. These are different from many of the visas listed above because no U.S. citizen is involved with this visa: it’s exclusively for lawful permanent residents (i.e. green card holders).F-2A: The F-2A visa is given to the spouse of a lawful permanent resident of the United States. If you are legally married to a U.S. permanent resident, then you may qualify for an F-2A visa. This visa can also apply to unmarried children under 21 of a U.S. permanent resident.F-2B: The F-2B visa is for unmarried children of a lawful permanent resident over age 21.

Employment Sponsored Visa

Employers in the United States often seek talent from abroad. In many cases, an employer can sponsor you to work in the United States. If you qualify for an employment sponsored visa, then you’re able to live and work in the United States for as long as that visa is active. The U.S. government grants approximately 140,000 employment sponsored visa applications each fiscal year. Below, you’ll find a list of different employment sponsored visas.

E-1: First Priority Workers – Persons with Exceptional Talent

First Priority Workers typically fall into one of three groups:

  • Internationally-recognized professors and researchers deemed outstanding in their field
  • Anyone with extraordinary skill in arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics
  • Internationally-renowned business executives who have worked overseas for a U.S brand, subsidiary, or parent company for at least one out of the past three years

If you fall into any of these three groups, then you may receive an EB-1 employer-sponsored visa. You’re considered a “First Priority Worker” because you have exceptional talent in your field.

E-2: Second Priority Workers – Persons with Advanced Degrees and Exceptional Ability

A Second Priority Worker may qualify for an E-2 visa. This employer-sponsored visa category includes two groups:

  • Professionals holding an advanced degree. You are typically required to have at least a Bachelor’s Degree and five years of experience in your profession, or a higher degree beyond your Bachelor’s Degree.
  • Anyone with exceptional abilities in arts, sciences, or business.

E-3, EW-3: Third Priority Workers – Professionals and Other Workers

Third Priority Workers include three categories of workers:

  • Skilled workers with at least two years of experience or training in a profession, with the work being non-seasonal and permanent
  • Professional workers who need at least a Bachelor’s Degree to work in their profession
  • Unskilled workers who do not need at least two years of experience or training for a particular profession

S Visa: Fourth Priority Workers – Certain Special Immigrants

Fourth Priority Workers include a mix of employer-based immigrants who do not fall into the categories listed above. Fourth Priority Workers can include all of the following:

  • Religious workers (who may qualify for an SD or SR visa)
  • Broadcasters in the U.S.
  • Current or former employees of the U.S. government
  • Iraqi or Afghan employees of the U.S. government (who may qualify for an SQ visa)
  • Iraqi and Afghan interpreters or translators (who may qualify for an SI visa)
  • Certain foreign medical graduates
  • Certain family members of international organization employees, including spouses and unmarried children under 21

C-5, T-5, R-5, I-5: Fifth Priority Workers – Investors and Job Creators

If the United States government sees you as an investor or job creator, then you may be eligible for employer-sponsored entry to the United States. Technically, an employer isn’t sponsoring your entry on these visas; instead, you’re sponsoring your own entry by investing in the US economy.

You may be eligible to immigrate to the United States as a Fifth Priority Worker if you meet the following two requirements

  • Invest at least $1,000,000 in the United States
  • Invest $500,000 in a high unemployment or rural area of the United States

If you meet the above two requirements, then you may qualify for one of four different Fifth Priority Worker visas:

C-5: The C-5 visa is for investors who create jobs outside of target areas of the United States (i.e. outside of rural areas or areas with high unemployment).

T-5: The T-5 visa is for investors who create jobs in targeted areas, including rural areas or areas with high unemployment.

R-5: The R-5 visa is for investors who participate in an Investor Pilot program outside of a targeted area.

I-5 Visa: The I-5 visa is for investors who participate in an Investor Pilot Program in a targeted area.

Merit-Based Immigration

Some countries use a point-based immigration system. The current US administration has signaled that it wishes to move closer to a merit-based or point-based immigration system. This would award green cards (lawful permanent resident status) based more on achievements instead of pure chance. Prospective residents could gain points based on their demographics, education, job prospects, and other qualifiers.

In America, these laws are organized under the Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment Act (RAISE). Under RAISE, prospective immigrants will receive a number of points based on their qualifications.

For now, all of the above immigration laws remain in effect. In the future, however, the United States might move towards a more merit-based system.