Employment-Based Visas

Entering the U.S. through employment can be divided into two categories: non-immigrant and immigrant. A non-immigrant employment-based visa will allow a person to work in the U.S., usually for a limited period of time. An immigrant employment-based visa will allow a person to live and work in the U.S. permanently through acquisition of Permanent Resident Status, or green card. The categories are as follows:

Non-Immigrant Visas

Immigrant Visas

Family-Based Visas

Most people obtain Green Cards (permanent residency) through family members. Two groups of family based immigrant visa categories are immediate relatives and family preference categories.

Immediate Relative Immigrant Visas

These visa types are based on a close family relationship with a United States citizen described as an Immediate Relative (IR). The number of immigrants in these categories is not limited each fiscal year. Immediate relative visa types include:

  • IR-1: Spouse of a U.S. citizen
  • IR-2: Unmarried child under 21 years of age of a U.S. citizen
  • IR-3: Orphan adopted abroad by a U.S. citizen
  • IR-4: Orphan to be adopted in the U.S. by a U.S. citizen
  • IR-5: Parent of a U.S. citizen who is at least 21 years old

Family Preference Immigrant Visas

These visa types are for specific, more distant, family relationships with a U.S. citizen and some specified relationships with a Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR). There are fiscal year numerical limitations on family preference immigrants so normally there is a wait for visa number to become available. Family preference categories include:

  • Family First Preference (F1): Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their minor children, if any.
  • Family Second Preference (F2): Spouses, minor children, and unmarried sons and daughters (age 21 and over) of LPRs. At least seventy-seven percent of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children; the remainder is allocated to unmarried sons and daughters.
  • Family Third Preference (F3): Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children.
  • Family Fourth Preference (F4): Brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and minor children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age.

Please note: Grandparents, aunts, uncles, in-laws, and cousins cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.

Special categories

  • VAWA: Battered spouse or child of U.S. citizen or Green Card holder.
  • K-1 Nonimmigrant (Fiance): Nonimmigrant visa leading to a Green Card after marriage to a U.S. citizen.
  • K-3 Nonimmigrant: Nonimmigrant visa for spouse of U.S. citizen who has an I-130 on file with USCIS.