The Shapiro Law Firm, LLC
Attorneys & Counselors at Law


What is an Immigrant Visa?

An Immigrant Visa is required for anyone who wishes to enter the United States to become a Permanent Resident. 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. Our experienced immigrant visa attorneys have successfully filed thousands of visa petitions spanning all of the categories listed below.

Who is Eligible to Receive an Immigrant Visa?

In general, in order to be eligible to apply for an Immigrant Visa, a foreign citizen must be sponsored by a U.S. Citizen relative or by a prospective employer. However, the Diversity Visa provides a certain number of Permanent Resident visas annually.


The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allows the immigration of foreigners to the United States based on relationship to a U.S. Citizen. Family-based Immigrant Visas fall under two categories: UNLIMITED and LIMITED:


# of Visas Available Per Year: UNLIMITED

  • Immediate Relatives: Do NOT have to wait in line for a visa to be come available!

If you are related to the petitioning U.S. Citizen family member in 1 of the following ways, then you are an Immediate Relative: 

1. Spouse;

2. Unmarried Child Under 21, or;

3. Parent (if U.S. Citizen is over the age of 21).


# of Visas Available Per Year: LIMITED

  • 1st Preference:

1. Unmarried sons & daughters of U.S. citizens, &;

2. Children of unmarried sons & daughters of U.S. Citizens.


  • 2nd Preference:

1. Spouses of Permanent Residents;

2. Minor children of Permanent Residents, and;

3. Unmarried sons & daughters of Permanent Residents.

  • 3rd Preference:

1. Married sons & daughters of U.S. citizens,;

2. Children of married sons & daughters of U.S. Citizens, &;

3. Spouses of married sons & daughters of U.S. Citizens.

  • 4th Preference:

1. Siblings (brothers & sisters) of U.S. citizens;

2. Children of siblings of U.S. Citizens (age 21 or older), &;  

3. Spouses of siblings of U.S. Citizens (age 21 or older).


Unlike the Family-based Immigrant Visa process, the Employment-based Immigrant Visa process does not begin with the filing of an Immigrant Visa petition. Instead, the Beneficiary's Employer must undergo additional steps in regards to job recruitment with the U.S. Department of Labor first.  These steps must take place within strict time periods and can vary depending on the type of visa applying for and/ or the type of job sought.  Contact us today to find out if you qualify for an Employment-Based Immigrant Visa, and if so, what the application process will look like for you.

Employment-based Immigrant Visa Categories:


1st Preference: 

  • Workers of Extraordinary Ability

  • Outstanding University Professors or Researchers

  • Executives or Managers of Multinational Companies

2nd Preference:

  • Professionals with Advanced Degrees

  • Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts or Business


3rd Preference: 

  • Professional Workers

  • Skilled Workers

  • Unskilled Workers

4th Preference:

  • Special Immigrants 

  • Religious Workers

  • Former U.S. Government Workers

  • Children Dependent on U.S. Foster Care

Investor/ Entrepreneur Visa:


5th Preference:

  • Investors Willing to Invest a Minimum of $1,000,000 in a new U.S. Business that will Create Jobs ($500,000 if the business is located in an economically depressed location)


Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Self-Petition

Unfortunately, immigrants who become victims of Domestic Violence are often afraid to report the incidents to the police because of their immigration status.  If you are the victim of Domestic Violence and you are the spouse, child or parent of an abusive U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident, you may be able to file for a Green Card on your own behalf with a VAWA self-petition without the abuser's knowledge.  In order to do so, you must establish the following: 

1. Qualifying Relationship = U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident abuser's:

          - Spouse;

          - Parent, or;

          - Child

2. Resided with Abuser;

3. Good Moral Character, AND;

4. Victim of Battery or Extreme Cruelty.

Diversity Lottery Visa:

Every year up to 50,000 Diversity Immigrant Visas (DV) are made available to individuals from countries with low rates of immigration to the U.S.. All eligible individuals are placed into a single drawing and are selected at random until the allotted number of visas for that year is reached.  DVs are distributed among 6 different geographic regions and no single country may receive more than 7% of available DVs in a single year.

Go back to Visas  | Click here to find out how to apply for a Green Card based on an approved Immigrant Visa

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