Immigration Law Questions? Ask an Immigration Lawyer.
Migrating to the U.S. - Immigrant VisasGeneral InformationThere are four main methods of immigration to the United States: through an immediate family relationship, through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program, through employment and through investment.In order to be eligible to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative(s) or by a prospective employer. Unlike most other immigrant categories, Immediate Relatives are not subject to numerical limits under immigration law.For an overview of the types of immigrant visas available under immigration law, please see Immigrant Visa Classifications on the USCIS website http://www.uscis.gov/.Immediate RelativeWho is eligible? Immediate Relatives of United States Citizens: The spouse and minor unmarried children of a United States citizen, and the parents of a United States citizen who is over the age of twenty-one.Note: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.How do I apply?The first step in applying for an immigrant visa is for the American citizen to file in person Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, . A separate petition must be filed for each person immigrating.If filing the petition in the U.S. visit USCIS website for instructions.The I-130 petition cannot be filed until after a marriage has taken place.If the petition is approved, your spouse/child/parent will need to complete all documentary requirements, including medical examinations and police clearances, and have an interview with a consular officer in Sydney before an immigrant visa is approved and issued..Family BasedPersons seeking to immigrate in one of the family based preference categories will qualify for immigrant status only if they have the necessary relationship to a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident as described below.First Preference: Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and children if any; Second Preference: Spouses, children and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent resident alien; Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and children; Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of United States citizens, and their spouses and children provided the U.S. citizens are 21 years of age or over. Note: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration. For information specific to each visa type, please see Immigration through Family Member on the USCIS website.Fiancé(e) VisaThe visa classification K-1 applies to aliens proceeding to the United States to marry American citizens. The marriage must be concluded within 90 days of their admission into the United States. Following the marriage, the alien spouse must apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) to establish a record of entry for conditional permanent residence status. After two years, the alien must apply to the USCIS for removal of the conditional status.Petition To apply for K-1 visa classification for an intended alien spouse, an American citizen must file a petition, Form I-129F, with the USCIS Regional Service Center having jurisdiction over the place of the petitioner's residence in the United States. Such petitions cannot be adjudicated abroad.Both petitioner and beneficiary must be legally able and willing to conclude a valid marriage in the United States. The petitioner and beneficiary must have previously met in person within the past 2 years unless the U.S. Attorney General waives that requirement. The petition takes 90-180 days to process.The approved petition will then be forwarded by the USCIS to the American Consular office where the alien Fiancé(e) will apply for his or her visa.A petition is valid for a period of 4 months from the date of USCIS action, and must be revalidated by the consular officer.Minor ChildrenAll minor children of a K-1 beneficiary derive K-2 non-immigrant visa status from the parent, as long as the children are named in the petition. A separate petition is not required if the children accompany or follow the alien Fiancé(e) within one year from the date of issuance of the K-1 visa. Thereafter, a separate immigrant visa petition is required.How do I apply?For information on documentary requirements for Fiancé visasEmployment Based ImmigrantsPersons seeking to immigrate in one of the employment based preference categories listed below must have their U.S. prospective employer file Petition form I-140 with the USCIS in the United States.Priority Workers: persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers (applicants in this category must have extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in the field of expertise.); and certain multinational executives and managers; Members of the Professions: Professionals holding advanced degrees, and persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, and business; Professionals, Skilled and Unskilled Workers: Professionals holding baccalaureate degrees, skilled workers with at least two years of experience, and other workers whose skills are in short supply in the United States; Special Immigrants: Certain religious workers and ministers of religion, certain international organizations employees and their immediate family members, and specially qualified and recommended current and former employees of the United States Government; Investors: Persons who create employment for at least ten unrelated persons by investing capital in a new commercial enterprise in the United States. The minimum amount of capital required is between $500,000 and $1,000,000, depending on the employment rate in the geographic area. For information specific to each visa type, please see Immigration through Employment on the USCIS website.Diversity Visa/Green Card LotteryOfficial Information is ONLY available on the State Department website. Specific instructions on how to enter the Diversity Lottery are available in October of each year, and the Lottery is run each November/December. Electronic entry forms can ONLY be accessed via the State Department.Conditions of entry are subject to change each year, therefore Consular Posts are unable to provide detailed information, or accept applications.To be eligible to enter, the applicant must have completed a minimum of twelve years education including FOUR years of high school which must be the equivalent of a U.S. High School diploma or qualify under Grade 7 employment standards as set by the U.S. Department of Labor.For the latest information on the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, please see the Department of State's Diversity Visa Information page.
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