Immigrant Visas
(for Permanent Residency/Green Card)

An “Immigrant Visa petition” is an application to obtain Permanent Residency or “Green Card.” The petition may be filed by (1) an employer, (2) the Applicant himself or herself, or (3) by a family member. “Family members” can be: (1) a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident spouse, (2) a U.S. citizen child over the age of 21, or (3) a U.S. Citizen parent. In some instances, such as the EB-1, a foreign national can “self-petition” on his or her own behalf if she or she can

demonstrate an exceptional ability in his or her profession.

An immigrant petition (Form I-140) must first be approved by USCIS before the applicant can take the next step to Adjust Status to that of a Permanent Resident with Form I-485. Once the I-140 application is approved, applicants residing outside of the United States must attend an interview abroad at a U.S. consulate or embassy. If the visa is approved, it will be
placed in the passport and returned to the Beneficiary within a week. The immigrant visa is not in itself proof of Permanent Residence, but is merely the documentation necessary to enter the U.S. as a Permanent Resident. Once the Beneficiary is inspected by an immigration officer at a U.S. port of entry, the Beneficiary receives a stamp on the visa, and mandatory departure date on an I-94 form. Once the Beneficiary has been admitted to the U.S., the Beneficiary will receive a
Green Card.

Applicants residing within the United States may submit a form I-485 to USCIS to Adjust their Status to that of Permanent Resident. In this case, they will not actually obtain an immigrant visa, but rather will be granted immigrant status (Permanent Residence), as evidenced by a Green Card. 

Green Cards are valid for a period of 10 years. Once a Beneficiary has been a Permanent Resident for 5 years, he or she can apply for Naturalization to become a U.S. Citizen. If the Green Card was obtained based on marriage to a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, the Beneficiary need only wait 3 years before applying for Naturalization.