What is an immigrant visa?
An immigrant visa is a document issued by a U.S. consular officer abroad that allows you to travel to the United States and apply for admission as a legal permanent resident (LPR). An immigration inspector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security makes the final decision as to whether or not to admit you as an LPR. Once you are admitted as an LPR, you generally have the right to live and work in the United States permanently. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security will mail your permanent resident card (often called a “green card”) to your new address in the United States, usually within three months of your entry into the United States.
What are the basic paths that lead to an immigrant visa?
There are three basic methods for obtaining an immigrant visa: 1) through a family relationship with a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident or 2) through employment or 3) through the Diversity Visa Program (the green card lottery). Most applicants in Armenia obtain their immigrant visas via family relationships and the Diversity Visa Program.
The process to receive family- or employment-based immigrant visas begins in the United States with a petition filed by your American citizen or LPR family member or potential employer with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Your relative or potential employer generally must file the petition by mail at the USCIS Service Center in the United States with jurisdiction over his or her place of residence. Once your relative or potential employer has filed a petition for you, you may check its status by accessing the USCIS Case Status Search Page and entering your USCIS receipt number. When the petition is approved, the petitioner and you, the beneficiary, will receive a notice of approval in the mail (form letter I-797 Notice of Action/Approval) advising that the case file is being sent to the Department of State (National Visa Center) for further administrative processing. NVC will contact the petitioner to request any required additional financial information and documentation. Once this work is completed, NVC forwards cases electronically and by courier to a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad for final processing and the applicant’s immigrant visa interview, which is conducted by a U.S. consular officer.
The process to receive a diversity visa begins by participating in the annual Diversity Visa lottery, which is usually held in the last quarter of the calendar year. Lottery winners may check the status of their entry using their confirmation number through Entrant Status Check on the E-DV website www.dvlottery.state.gov, starting at noon (EDT) on May 1, in the following year and then begin preparing their cases by sending a variety of personal and civil documents (e.g. birth and marriage certificates, etc.) to the Kentucky Consular Center in the United States. When the case is complete, DV lottery winners are then notified by Kentucky Consular Center of their visa interview date at the Embassy Consular Section and what additional documents will need to present at the interview. Because the Diversity visa lottery is an annual program, applicants must complete their applications and receive their visas from the Consular Section by September 30 of the program year in order to immigrate to the United States; otherwise, their winning entry is forfeited. Please see the page on DV Visas for more information.