Family-Based Immigration

Two groups of family-based immigrant visa categories, immediate relatives and family preference, are provided under the provisions of U.S. immigration law, specifically the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).  You may wish to review our Directory of Visa Categories  on to learn more about these two categories of immigrant visas, as well as other types of immigrant visas to the United States, including our Diversity Visa Program.

To apply for an immediate relative or family preference immigrant visa, follow the steps on the Immigrant Visa Process on  Once you have completed those steps, review the instructions given to you by the National Visa Center (NVC), along with the information presented on this website, for further guidance and instructions.

Previously all first-time immigrant travelers to the United States were required to hand-carry an Immigrant Visa (IV) packet and present it at the U.S. Port of Entry to the Customs and Border Protection authorities. In 2017, the Department of State began to use an online application center to collect, review, and process the required documents previously contained in the IV packet.

Immigrant Visa (IV) packets are now transmitted electronically to Customs and Border Protection and are accessible at the U.S. Port of Entry.

Any immigrant traveler carrying a visa with a special annotation is not required to hand-carry an IV packet.

You can find additional information on electronic processing at the National Visa Center web page.