Immigrants to the United States

Important Notice: Provisional Unlawful Presence Waivers – Applicants Must Notify the National Visa Center– Learn More. (Español - pdf)

Immigrating to the U.S.Immigrating to the United States to live here permanently is an important and complex decision. In this section, you will learn about who may immigrate to the United States, the different types of immigrant visas, the required forms, and the steps in the immigrant visa process. For information on who may immigrate to the U.S., review Visa Types for Immigrants. Click on the links below for information on visa forms, the Affidavit of Support, other requirements, and related materials for immigrants. In general, to apply for an immigrant visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative(s), U.S. lawful permanent resident, or by a prospective employer, and be the beneficiary of an approved petition. Therefore, a first step is filing a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). For information on this step, visit the USCIS website.

Petitions Required to be Filed in the United States

U.S. citizens and lawful permanent resident sponsors residing in the United States file Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative, with the USCIS Chicago Lockbox facility or Phoenix Lockbox facility, following instructions on the USCIS website. U.S. employers file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, as instructed on the USCIS website.

Filing Immigrant Petitions Outside of the United States

Some petitions may be filed outside of the United States. Review Filing Immigrant Petitions Outside the United States to learn more.

Immigrant Visa Processing - The National Visa Center (NVC)

After an immigrant petition filed in the United States is approved by USCIS, it is forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC) for processing. NVC plays an important role in the next steps of the immigrant visa process by providing instructions to petitioners, sponsors, and visa applicants; reviewing required Affidavit of Support forms from sponsors; and receiving fees, application forms, and other required documents from visa applicants. For numerically limited family preference petitions, NVC contacts the petitioner once the petition’s priority date is about to become current

Learn more about the National Visa Center (NVC) and processing at the NVC.

Additional Resources

See Visa Information for Immigrants for more information, including the Visa Bulletin, required vaccinations, DNA testing, and more.