Immigrant Visa Categories
The U.S. visa attorneys at Hodkinson Law Group can help you select the immigrant visa category that is right for your needs. Click on a link below to learn more about your options for an immigrant visa.
- Family-Based Preferences
- Employment-Based Preferences
- Diversity Immigrants – U.S. Visa Lottery Program
Applicants Who are Not Subject to the Annual Numerical Limitation
Immigrant (permanent) visas are available to qualified individuals wishing to live permanently or indefinitely in the U.S. All immigrant categories, except for “immediate relatives” and “special immigrants” (described below), are numerically limited and subject to annual per-country quotas, often resulting in long waiting periods between the filing of an immigrant visa petition and issuance of an immigrant visa.
All applicants for an immigrant visa must demonstrate to the satisfaction of a U.S. consular officer that they do not fall within any of the categories of inadmissible persons listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act. If determined to be ineligible for an immigrant visa, U.S. law permits a waiver of inadmissibility in many, but not all, circumstances.
This category primarily includes children (the term “child” being defined as unmarried and under the age of 21), spouses, parents and certain widows/widowers of a U.S. citizen. Except in the case of parents, the U.S. citizen must be at least 21 years of age to sponsor a parent for immigration.
This category primarily includes individuals who are previous lawful permanent residents of the U.S. and are returning from a visit abroad of more than one year.
Applicants Who Are Subject to the Annual Numerical Limitation
U.S. immigration law establishes the following preference classes for the allotment of immigrant visas:
First Preference: Unmarried sons and daughters (who are at least 21 years of age) of U.S. citizens.
Second Preference: Spouses and unmarried children of permanent residents.
Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult (at least 21 years of age) U.S. citizens.
First Preference: Priority workers, including aliens with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation; outstanding professors and researchers, if internationally recognized as outstanding, have at least 3 years of experience in teaching or research in the academic area, and seek to enter the U.S. to teach or conduct research; and certain multinational managers and executives.
Second Preference: Members of the professions holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.
Third Preference: Skilled workers, professionals and other workers. “Skilled workers” include qualified immigrants capable of performing skilled labor requiring at least 2 years training or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature, for which qualified workers are not available in the U.S. “Professionals” include qualified immigrants who hold a baccalaureate degree, who are members of the professions and will be employed in a position for which U.S. workers are unavailable. “Other workers” include qualified immigrants who are capable of performing unskilled labor, not of a temporary or seasonal nature, for which qualified workers are unavailable.
Fourth Preference: Certain special immigrants, including certain religious workers.
Fifth Preference: Employment creation, including immigrant investors seeking to enter the U.S. to engage in a new commercial enterprise which the individual has established. The individual must prove that he/she has invested or is actively in the process of investing at least $1,000,000, or $500,000 in a targeted employment area (a rural area or an area with high unemployment), in a business which will benefit the U.S. economy and create full-time employment for no less than 10 U.S. citizens or immigrant workers.
Diversity Immigrants – U.S. Visa Lottery Program
The U.S. Visa Lottery program makes available each year by random selection 50,000 permanent residence visas to persons from countries that have had a low rate of immigration to the U.S. over the previous 5 years. Eligibility for the Visa Lottery is determined by a person’s place of birth rather than by citizenship or residence. Countries with a high rate of immigration over the previous 5 years are excluded from the program. An individual who was born in an excluded country, but who has a spouse or parent who was born in a country eligible to participate in the Visa Lottery program, may be eligible to apply. A “lottery” applicant must have at least a high school education or its equivalent, or have within 5 years of the date of application for a “lottery” immigrant visa at least 2 years of work experience in an occupation which requires at least 2 years of training or experience. UK nationals born in the UK are not eligible for the U.S. Visa Lottery program.
Contact a London Lawyer to Learn More About U.S. Visa Categories