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Immigrant Visa Categories

Immigrant Visa Categories

 A. Family-based Immigrants:
Quotas do not exist for family-based visas for parents, spouses or children of adult U.S. citizens who wish to immigrate. There are quotas, however, for spouses or children of Legal Permanent Residents ("green card" holders) as well as for the adult sons and daughters and siblings of U.S. citizens. Because of these quotas, persons in the later categories often have to wait several years from the petition filing date until they may receive an interview.

B. Employment-based Immigrants:
A total of 140,000 immigrant visas are available each year for this category. Employment-based immigrant visas are divided into five preference groups. These groups (percent of yearly limit in parentheses) are listed below:

  • Priority Workers: Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; and certain multinational executives and managers (28.6%). 
  • Members of the Professions: Professionals holding advanced degrees, and persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, and business (28.6%). 
  • Professionals, Skilled and Unskilled Workers: Professionals holding baccalaureate degrees, skilled workers with at least two years experience, and other workers whose skills are in short supply in the United States (28.6%). (Unskilled workers are subject to a sublimit of 10,000). 
  • Special Immigrants: Certain religious workers and ministers of religion, certain international organization employees and their immediate family members, and specially qualified and recommended current and former employees of the United States Government (7.1%). 
  • Investors: Persons who create employment for at least ten unrelated persons by investing capital in a new commercial enterprise in the United States. The minimum amount of capital required is between $500,000 and $1,000,000 depending on the unemployment rate in the geographic area (7.1%). 

C. Diversity Immigrants:   Complete information on eligibility requirements and application procedures is available exclusively at All applications must be submitted on-line using this website.

Due to anticipated high demands for the on-line application system, AIT encourages participants to submit applications well before the lottery ends. There is no fee to participate in the Diversity Immigrant Visa lottery.

The U.S. Government employs no outside consultants or private services to operate the DV program. Any intermediaries or others who offer assistance to prepare DV entries do so without the authority or consent of the U.S. Government. Use of any outside intermediary or assistance to prepare a DV entry is entirely at the entrant's discretion.

Further information about the specific categories of immigrant visas listed above are available from the State Department Visa Bulletin

The website of U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.