An immigrant visa is required of anyone who wishes to enter the United States to reside there permanently, whether or not that person plans to seek employment in the United States. U.S. immigration law provides for the issuance of immigrant visas in four general categories:
- Immediate relatives
- Diversity Immigrant Visa Program ("green card lottery")
All applicants for immigrant visas, regardless of the category, must be the beneficiary of an approved petition. The U.S. Embassy in Praia will only accept petitions for immediate relative classification from U.S. citizens who are resident in Cape Verde. To demonstrate residency in Cape Verde, petitioners need to show that they had permission to reside in Cape Verde and proof that they have done so continuously for at least six months before filing the petition.
All lawful permanent residents and all American citizens resident in the United States, or with a permanent residence in the United States, must file I-130 petitions at the USCIS Service Center having jurisdiction over their place of residence. Click here to find the USCIS Service Center nearest you.
Applicants who believe they are entitled to immigrant status based on a relationship to a United States citizen or lawful permanent resident should ask their relatives to a file Form I-130 with the nearest United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) office in the United States. If the American citizen resides abroad, he or she may file the petition with the closest USCIS office.
Applicants for employment-based immigrant visas, who believe they are entitled to immigrant status based on proposed employment in the United States, must have an approved Form I-140 from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). Prior to receiving such approval, applicants must obtain Department of Labor certification that there are no qualified workers available in the United States to perform the proposed type of employment.
Basic information about each category of immigrant visa is below:
The following immediate relatives of U.S. citizens are eligible to qualify for immigration in the immediate relative category:
Spouse or Minor Child of a U.S. Citizen
(Note: An minor child of a U.S. citizen may only apply for an immigrant visa if that child has no claim to U.S. citizenship; any such claims must be resolved before the immigrant visa application can proceed.)
Parent of a U.S. Citizen
(Note: The U.S. citizen petitioner must be 21 years of age or older.)
Step-parent or child of a U.S. Citizen
(Note: The step-parent/step-child relationship must be established before the stepchild's 18th birthday.)
Spouse of a deceased U.S. Citizen
(Note: Such petitions must be filed within 2 years of the death of the U.S. citizen.)
Please note that grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.
There are no numerical limitations for immigrant visas in this category.
Family-Based Preference Categories
Persons seeking to immigrate in one of the family-based preference categories will qualify for immigrant status if they have the necessary relationship to a U.S. citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident (LPR) as described below.
- Unmarried Son or Daughter over the age of 21 of a U.S. Citizen
- Spouse or Unmarried Son or Daughter of a Lawful Permanent Resident
- Married Son or Daughter of a U.S. Citizen
Brother or Sister of a U.S. Citizen
(Note: The U.S. citizen petitioner must be 21 years of age or older.)
Again, please note that grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins, and in-laws cannot sponsor a relative for immigration.
This category of immigrants is subject to numerical limitations.
Special Notice Regarding Family Preference Visa Issuance for January 2010
The U.S. Embassy Consular Section urgently informs all Immigrant Visa applicants that the availability of visa numbers for the following Family Preference visa classifications will retrogress significantly on January 1, 2011, as follows:
|Family Relationship Category||Visa Classification||December 2010 Priority Date||January 2011 Priority Date|
|Unmarried Son/Daughter of U.S. citizen||F1||15 Feb 2006||01 Jan 2005|
|Spouse/Child of Legal Permanent Resident||F2A||01 Aug 2010||01 Jan 2008|
|Unmarred Son/Daughter of Legal Permanent Resident||F2B||01 Jun 2005||15 Apr 2003|
|Married Child of U.S. Citizen||F3||01 Jun 2002||01 Jan 2001|
If the priority date of your immigrant visa petition is later than the January 2010 priority date for your visa classification, and you have not yet been issued an immigrant visa, you must provide any missing documents by December 31, 2010. If not, we will be unable to issue you a visa until your immigrant visa petition becomes current again.
In general, a specific offer of employment from a U.S.-based employer is required for immigration in the employment-based preference categories described below.
- Priority Workers
Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, arts, business or athletics; outstanding professors and reserarchers; and certain multinational executives and managers.
- Persons With Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts, and Business
Defined as a member of a "profession" holding an advanced degree or qeuivalent, or baccalaureate degree plus at least 5 years of progressive experience in the specialty, and persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, and business.
U.S. law defines "profession" as including but not limited to architects, engineers, lawyers, physicians, surgeons, and teachers in elementary or secondary schools, colleges, academies, or seminaries, as well as any occupation for which a U.S. baccalaureate degree (or foreign equivalent) is the minimum requirement for entry into the occupation.
A person who holds a baccalaureate degree and who is a member of a profession, as defined above.
- Skilled and Unskilled Workers
Skilled workers with at least two years training or experience, and unskilled workers whose skills are in short supply in the United States. (Note: The Embassy does not keep a list of those jobs for which skilled workers are in short supply in the United States.)
- Special Immigrants
Certain religious workers and ministers of religion, certain international organization employees and their immediate family members, qualified and recommended current and former employees of the U.S. government, and returning U.S. residents.
Persons who will create employment for a certain number of unrelated persons by investing money in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. above a certain threshold.
Diversity Immigrant Visa Program
The Congressionally-mandated Diversity Immigrant Visa Program makes available 50,000 permanent resident visas annually, drawn at random from all persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States who participate in the diversity visa lottery. U.S. law does not restrict who may participate in the lottery.
If you have questions about immigration or immigrant visas, you may call the Consular Section at the U.S. Embassy in Praia during information hours, which are every Wednesday and Thursday between 3:00 and 4:30 (238 260-8900). Alternatively, you may e-mail the Consular Section at email@example.com.