Many aliens would like to achieve the goal of permanent residence, the status of being lawfully given the privilege of permanently residing in the US as an immigrant, leading also to naturalization as a US citizen. In most cases, an immigrant petition must first be filed in one of the four BCIS service centers, namely the Vermont , Nebraska , Texas or California service centers.
To begin the process of family sponsored immigration, a close family member in the US usually files a Form I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. An employer in the US may originate an employment based case by filing Form I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. In employment cases, the INA requires that the employer, prior to filing the I-140, must first receive a labor certification from the US Department of Labor (DOL).
After a family member petition or employer petition has been approved, the alien can then apply for an immigrant visa. Aliens who are not in the United States must apply at a US consulate aboard. An alien in the United States may apply for adjustment of status at one of the approximately 69 District Offices of the BCIS in the US , Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands.
The procedure of obtaining an immigrant visa at a US consulate is referred to as “visa processing”. Other aliens including winners in the DV diversity immigration program also apply for immigrant visas through visa processing.
BCIS forwards approved petitions to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth , NH , unless the alien is in the US and will apply for adjustment of status with the BCIS. NVC, when indicated, coordinates with the alien, his agent when designated, and the consular post involved for the preparation and review of documents, payments of fees, medical examination, and otherwise assists in preparing the case for the visa interview and, when successfully completed, issuance by the consular post of the immigrant visa.