Information on immigrant visas and the immigrant visa application process are available at the travel.state.gov website. Below is information on preparing for and scheduling your visa interview.
To apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen seeking to immigrate generally must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident immediate relative(s), or prospective U.S. employer, and have an approved petition from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before applying for an immigrant visa. The sponsor begins the process by filing a petition on the foreign citizen’s behalf with USCIS. You may wish to review our Directory of Visa Categories on usvisas.state.gov to learn about the different types of immigrant visas to the United States, including our Diversity Visa Program. Then, follow the steps on the Immigrant Visa Process, or on the Diversity Visa Process, to begin applying for an immigrant visa.
Once USCIS has approved your petition and you have completed pre-processing with the National Visa Center (NVC), or if you have been selected in the Diversity Visa Lottery and completed processing with the Kentucky Consular Center (KCC), review the instructions given to you by the NVC or the KCC, along with the information presented on this website, for further guidance and instructions.
Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas (Unlimited)
These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a United States (U.S.) citizen described as an Immediate Relative (IR). The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year. Immediate relative visa types include:
- IR-1/CR-1: Spouse of a U.S. citizen –Learn More
- IR-2: Unmarried Child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen
- IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen –Learn More
- IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen –Learn More
- IR-5: Parent of a U.S. Citizen who is at least 21 years old
Family Preference Immigrant Visas (Limited)
These visa types are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). There are fiscal year numerical limitations on family preference immigrants, shown at the end of each category. The family preference categories are:
- Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any. (23,400)
- Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs. At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder is allocated to unmarried sons and daughters. (114,200)
- Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children. (23,400)
- Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age. (65,000)
Note: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.
Spouse or Fiancé(e)
If you are a U.S. citizen you have two ways to bring your foreign spouse (husband or wife) to the United States to live. They are
- Immigrant visa for a spouse of a U.S. citizen (IR1 or CR1) – An immigrant Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130 is required. Learn more.
- Nonimmigrant visa for spouse (K-3) – It is important to note that an application for the nonimmigrant visa for the spouse (K-3) who married a U.S. citizen must be filed and the visa must be issued in the country where the marriage took place. After the visa process has been completed, and the visa is issued, the spouse can travel to the United States to wait for the processing of the immigrant visa case. Two petitions are required: Petition for Alien Relative, Form I-130, and Petition for Alien Fiancé(e), Form I-129F. Learn more.
If you are a U.S. citizen, you may bring your fiancé(e) to the United States to marry and live here, with a nonimmigrant visa for a fiancé(e) (K-1). An I-129F fiancé(e) petition is required. Learn more.