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Top US Immigrant Visa Types You Should Know About

us immigrant visa types

Do you hope to live in the United States?

Each year, about one million people immigrate to this country. Many come for the opportunity seen in the American dream.

Moving to this country takes more than a plane ticket. You must file for an immigrant visa.

This requires you to come into this country with a valid purpose, decided upon by the federal government. The type of visa issued determines what qualifies you to stay in the country for an extended period of time.

Read on to learn about the different US immigrant visa types.

Family-Sponsored Immigrant Visa

Family matters! A family-sponsored visa allows you to live close to the people related to you under the Immigration and Nationality Act (NIA). Who qualifies as an immediate family member?

Children and Parents

The bond between parent and child deserves nurturing. Young children of an American citizen get the right to this Visa as an immediate relative.

Unmarried adult children, age 21 and older, of United States citizens, receive priority over the other non-immediate relatives when they apply. Other children that may also apply for this US visa include:

  • Unmarried children of green card holders and permanent US residents
  • Minor children of permanent residents
  • Married sons and daughters of US citizens

Priority goes to married and then unmarried children. Married children naturally separate some from the family unit and need less support.

Parents of this country’s citizens also qualify. But, their child must be 21 or older for them to petition.

Sometimes American parents wish to adopt children from outside of the country. These kids receive a family sponsorship when first coming over.


The sacred union of two people works best when they live together. The United States supports this by granting this visa to the spouses of US citizens.

Spouses of green card holders can petition with lower priority. If the marriage ends, so does the visa if you do not stay married long enough to receive a green card.

They also recognize the fiances of citizens under this law. You must intend to marry within 90 days of receiving the visa.


Brothers and sisters also share a special bond. If your sibling is a US citizen, then you may apply. They must be 21 or older, otherwise, you must look for another way to qualify.

United States Work Visa

The United States draws many people in due to the amazing economic opportunities. If you wish to move to the US for work, a number of rules apply.

To qualify, a registered business in the country must offer you a job as a permanent employee and provide paperwork from the employer. If they only offer you a temporary position, then you need to apply for a non-immigrant visa.

You must file an I-140 form to U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Only once they approve you here may you apply for your work visa.

Approval depends on proper documentation, like your employee approval letter. They will also consider your priority date.

Qualification for the position you want to take on matters. For example, working in a specialty occupation requires a higher degree.

They take into account special awards and previous employment as well. Giving a job to somebody outside of the country means taking it away from the citizen. This audit ensures that you get it because you are fully qualified.

Your prospective employer plays a role in this as well. For the Department Of Labor (DOL) to approve you, they must prove that no equally qualified citizens applied for the position.

Religious workers do not need advanced degrees. But, to qualify your affiliation to that specific spiritual sector in the united states must have lasted two years prior to your petition date.

Once granted a working Visa, work hard. Until you receive your green card, this employment status keeps you in the country.

If you lost your job, then you also lose your visa. This means that you would need to leave the country and reapply for another visa on different terms.

Diversity Immigrant Visa

The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) recognizes people from countries with historically low immigration rates. This helps to create more diversity in the country so that it does not shut specific cultures out of the melting pot.

The countries excluded from this visa due to high immigration rates include:

  • Bangladesh
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • India
  • Jamaica
  • Mexico
  • Nigeria
  • Pakistan
  • Philippines
  • South Korea
  • United Kingdom (not including Northern Ireland & dependent territories)
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam

If you live in a qualified country, then you can enter into the lottery for this visa at no cost. The US does require that you hold a high school diploma or worked for at least two years in a position that required at least two years of training.

You must send in picture identification, all required documents, and a list of your immediate family members. An automated lottery ensures you a fair chance at winning this immigrant visa.

Returning Resident Visa

Did you live in the United States as a permanent resident and then leave the country for an extended period of time? This would terminate the rights that you had to be in the country.

But, it may make you eligible to apply for a returning resident visa. This type of visa acknowledges that you made America your home. Though you left for business, family matters, or whatever substantial calling took you away, you still belong here.

You may qualify for this Visa if you spent at least a year outside of the United States or if you lost your visa to no fault of your own. This requires proof.

Do the US Immigrant Visa Types Call for You?

Each of the US immigrant visa types creates a way for immigrants to achieve something important. They recognize the need for family, special employment opportunities, a diverse nation, and home.

Explore each type of visa to see if you may qualify. We understand that it can feel overwhelming. Reach out to us for help with navigating the immigration process.