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Permanent residency can be gained directly by applying for an American Immigrant Visa under either the non-preference or preference system of visa allocation.
There is only one type of visa for permanent residency, called an Immigrant Visa, and once that is obtained there are no special sub classifications or conditions attached to the visa (except for those who have obtained conditional residence as a spouse or investor).
This category of immigration is composed of those persons who may immigrate at any time regardless of the worldwide demand for Immigrant Visas. This category includes immediate relatives of American citizens.
To qualify for as a non-preference immigrant you must be a:
Fiancees of American citizens may enter America using a K1 Visa and obtain a Spouse Visa providing they marry their partner within 9 months after entering the country and their marriage is genuine and lasting.
The preference system is structured around an annual quota system, where preferences are allocated a numerical limit determining the priority of each preference classification. This system covers both family-based preferences for relatives of American citizens and permanent residents, and employment-based preferences.
Unmarried sons and daughters of American Citizens (including divorced sons and daughters) over the age of 21 years.
Spouse and unmarried sons and daughters (any age) of lawful permanent resident aliens.
Married sons and daughters of American citizens, their spouses and minor children.
Brothers and sisters of American citizens, their spouses and minor children.
Priority Workers, including aliens with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers.
Members of professions holding advanced degrees or persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business who will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural or educational interests or welfare of America.
Skilled workers, professionals and other qualified workers.
Special immigrants (including ministers of religion).
Investors (employment creation immigrants).
Applying under the preference system is not as straightforward as it may seem however, as there is usually a significant backlog of applications meaning you may face a wait of several years before your Immigrant Visa is granted.
©Visa Bureau 2003-2013
The American Visa Bureau is a division of Visa Bureau Ltd, an independent UK company specialising in visa and immigration services to America.
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