Visa and Immigration Services
Immigrant Visa (Green Card) for Non-American Citizen Family Members
The U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act (the “INA”) provides American citizens the ability to seek Immigrant Visas (which lead to U.S. Legal Permanent Residency Status or ‘green cards’) for certain close relatives so those relatives can join the family in the United States. Immigrant Visas for immediate relatives (spouse, parent, minor child or stepchild) are not subject to quotas; visas for other relatives are limited by annual quotas established by Congress.
For usual cases, the process is outlined as follows:
- The U.S. citizen files a Petition with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Citizenship Services Bureau (USCIS)
- USCIS forwards the approved Petition to the National Visa Center, which in turn forwards it to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate responsible for the country or region where the foreign relative resides
- The Embassy or Consulate receives the approved petition and provides the relative with instructions and a visa appointment schedule
- The relative applies for an Immigrant Visa at that Embassy or Consulate based on the approved petition
- The relative travels and enters the U.S. using the Immigrant Visa, and thus becomes a U.S. Legal Permanent Resident
Terminology Note: In a lot of information about the immigration process, the U.S. Citizen who files a petition is referred to as the petitioner or the sponsor; his relative is the beneficiary or the applicant.
The regional office of USCIS covering Slovakia is located at the U.S. Embassy in Vienna, Austria.