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The Immigrant Visa Process

Submit a Petition

About Submitting a Petition

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. A first step in the process is the sponsor filing a petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). 

A U.S. citizen can file an immigrant visa petition for:

  • Spouse
  • Son or daughter
  • Parent
  • Brother or sister

A U.S. lawful permanent resident (that is, a green-card holder) can file an immigrant visa petition for:

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried son or daughter

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, following instructions on the USCIS website. U.S. employers file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, as instructed on the USCIS website. 

Filing Petitions Outside the United States

While most immigrant visa petitions are filed in the United States, filing certain types of petition forms outside the United States is limited. Learn about filing petitions outside of the United States.

Petition Approval

Your immigrant petition must be approved by USCIS before you can begin the immigrant visa application process.  

Who's Involved

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services

USCIS oversees immigration to the United States and aproves (or denies) immigrant petitions and more.

Learn about USCIS

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