An immigrant visa (IV) is required of anyone who wishes to enter the United States to reside there permanently, whether or not that person plans to seek employment in the United States.
There are four general categories:
- Immediate Relatives
- Family Based
- Employment Based
- Diversity Immigrant Visa Program or "green card" lottery
Family-Based (Immediate Relatives)
A U.S. citizen can file an IV petition for the following relatives: husband, wife, son, or daughter. A U.S. citizen who is 21 or older can also file an IV petition for the following relatives: parent, brother, and sister. U.S. citizen grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration. For additional information, see the Visa Office website or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
- IR1/CR1 - Spouses of U.S. citizens
- IR2 - Minor unmarried children (under 21) of U.S. citizens
- IR3 - Adoptive children of U.S. citizens
- IR4 - Children to be adopted in the U.S. by U.S. citizens
- IR5 - Parent of a U.S. citizen
- K1 - Fiance(e) and minor children of a U.S. citizen
- K3 - Certain spouses and minor children of U.S. citizens
Family-Based (Preference Category)
A U.S. citizen can file an IV petition for the following relatives: husband, wife, son and daughter. A U.S. citizen who is 21 or older can also file an IV petition for the following relatives: parent, brother and sister. U.S. citizen grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration. There is an annual quota for visas in the following categories. For additional information, please visit the Visa Office website or the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
- F1 - An unmarried adult (21 or over) son or daughter of a U.S. citizen
- F2A - Spouses and minor children of legal permanent residents
- F2B - Unmarried son or daughter of legal permanent resident
- F3 - Married children of U.S. citizens
- F4 - Siblings of U.S. citizens
Employment-Based Immigrant Visas
The sponsoring employer in the U.S. must file a petition. The petitioner must demonstrate that there are no workers in the U.S. to perform the work and that the applicant has the necessary training and experience to do the job. There is an annual quota for visas in the following categories. For additional information, see the Visa Office website or the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website.
- E1 - Priority Workers
- E2 - Professionals holding advanced degrees
- E3 - Skilled workers
- E4 - Certain special immigrants
- E5 - Investors
Other Immigrant Visas
SD/SR - Certain religious workers and family
Diversity Visa Program
The congressionally mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program is administered on an annual basis by the Department of State to provide for a new class of immigrants known as diversity immigrants (DV immigrants). Up to 50,000 permanent resident visas are given out annually to persons from countries with low immigration rates to the United States.
The annual DV program makes permanent residence visas available to persons meeting simple, but strict, eligibility requirements. Applicants for Diversity Visas are chosen by a computer-generated random lottery drawing. The visas are distributed among six geographic regions with a greater number of visas going to regions with lower rates of immigration and with no visas going to citizens of countries sending more than 50,000 immigrants to the U.S. in the past five years. Within each region,no one country may receive more than seven percent of the available Diversity Visas in any one year.
As in years past, the Embassy has become aware of various notices being sent via e-mail purporting to notify recipients they have won the Diversity Visa Lottery (also known as the "Green Card Lottery"). People have also been contacted by phone. These e-mails and calls are in no way connected with the Embassy, the U.S. Department of State or any U.S. Government agency. Please remember that NO FEE is ever charged to enter the annual Diversity Visa (DV) program. The U.S. Government does not employ outside consultants or private services to operate the DV program. Any intermediaries or others who offer assistance to prepare DV applications or other visa paperwork do so without the authority or consent of the U.S. Government. Use of any outside intermediary or assistance to prepare a DV entry is entirely at the applicant's discretion. A qualified entry submitted electronically directly by an applicant has exactly the same chance of being selected as a winner by the computer at the Kentucky Consular Center as does an entry submitted electronically through a paid intermediary who completes the entry form for the applicant. Applicants with winning entries in the DV lottery will be notified ONLY by checking their status online through the DV Entrant Status Check.