Do you want to settle in the United States permanently or want to move to the country for a job? If yes, then the first step towards becoming a lawful resident of the US is to obtain a USA immigration visa. But immigrating to the US is not an easy process, and you need to go through a lot of formalities before you can lawfully step into the country.

Who is Eligible to Apply for an Immigrant Visa?

If you are a foreign national who wants to apply for an immigrant visa, you must be sponsored by a family member who is a lawful citizen or permanent resident of the US, or by a prospective employer. You may also apply for an immigrant visa if your fiancé(e) lives in the US and you want to get married there. The process of immigration begins when the sponsor files a petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign national.

Immigration Based on Family

While a US citizen can file a petition for an immigrant visa for their spouse, children, parents, and siblings, a US permanent resident, i.e. a green card holder, can file a petition for an immigrant visa for the spouse and the unmarried children. The immigration process begins when the sponsoring family member files Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative with the USCIS. But to sponsor a foreigner to immigrate to the US, the US citizen or permanent resident must prove that he/she is capable of supporting the intending immigrant in terms of income and assets. They will also need to accept the legal responsibility for providing financial support (if required) to the immigrant family member by submitting a document called Affidavit of Support. After the sponsor completes these formalities, the immigrant family member can apply for the visa.

Employment-Based Immigration

A US employer can sponsor prospective workers to hire them into permanent jobs. The process starts when the employer obtains a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor, US. When this certification is received, the employer then needs to file Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with the USCIS. The employer needs to do this by appropriately selecting the employment-based preference category. After the employer completes these formalities, the prospective employee can apply for the immigrant visa.

Fiancé(e) Immigration

Your US-based fiancé(e) can bring you to the United States to get married and live there by applying for a fiancé(e) K-1 visa. It is a non-immigrant visa for the foreign fiancé(e)of a US citizen or permanent resident. The K-1 visa allows the foreign citizen fiancé(e) to travel to the country and get married to the US citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. The foreign citizen spouse can then apply for adjustment of status to become a lawful permanent resident with the USCIS. Since the fiancé(e) visa allows the holder to immigrate to the US and get married in a very short period after arriving in the country, the fiancé(e) must meet certain criteria of the immigrant visa.

Green Card Lottery

Another popular way of obtaining an immigrant visa to enter the US is by participating in the Green Card Lottery. It is a Diversity Visa lottery program conducted by the US Congress every year and is open to the citizens of under-represented countries. This program is especially helpful for those who do not have relatives, fiancé(e), or job in the US. It lets people sponsor themselves for Green Cards and immigrate to the US. If you are a citizen of one of the under-represented countries and meet the eligibility requirements, you can take part in this program.

There are many other ways as well to obtain a USA immigration visa, so you need to thoroughly research before settling for an option. Consider consulting an immigration attorney if you find the process overwhelming.