According to U.S. immigration law, an immigrant visa is a type of visa document that allows a foreign national to enter the U.S. and eventually apply for lawful permanent residency. Immigrant visas are characterized by the applicant’s general intent to relocate permanently to the U.S. Lawful permanent residents are often granted extensive rights, such as the right to work in the country and to obtain citizenship.

This is in contrast to other types of non-immigrant visas wherein the applicant only intends to stay in the U.S. temporarily (such as student visas or temporary work visas).

What Are Some Types of Immigrant Visas?

There are three broad categories for types of immigrant visas.  Generally speaking, a person seeking to obtain an immigrant visa must find a person or organization to petition them to relocate to the U.S. Thus, immigrant visas are generally categorized according to the applicant’s relationship to the petitioner.

For instance, there may be the following types of immigrant visa categories:

  • Family-based: These may include immediate relatives, close family members, fiancés, and other persons who are petitioning the applicant.
  • Employment-based: Employers can often petition a worker to relocate permanently to the U.S.
  • Special Immigrants: Certain categories of employees can also be petitioned, such as religious workers or applicants from selected countries.

For some employment-based immigration visas, work certification may be required. This can often place additional demands on the employer, who will need to verify that the person is filling a legitimate employment need.

What If My Application Is Denied?

Immigrant visas can be denied for several different reasons. For instance, if an applicant fails to supply the requested documents for the application, it can cause a delay or even rejection of the application. 

Some visa denials can be appealed, depending on the reasons for the immigration board’s decision. Instructions for appealing an immigration decision will usually be found along with the rejection letter sent by U.S. immigration authorities. In some cases, the assistance of an immigration lawyer may be needed, because the applicant might have to supply additional information. This is especially true for employment-based visas, as the employer may need legal assistance with the process.

Do I Need an Immigration Lawyer?

Immigrant visa laws tend to be enforced quite strictly by authorities. You may wish to hire an immigration lawyer if you or one of your loved ones needs assistance with an immigrant visa application. Your attorney can provide you with the legal advice and counseling needed to ensure that your application is successfully submitted. Also, your attorney can represent you if ever you need to make an appearance in an immigration court.