An immigrant visa is a document issued by a U.S. consular officer abroad that allows you to travel to the United States and apply for admission as a legal permanent resident (LPR). An immigration inspector of U.S. Customs and Border Protection of the Department of Homeland Security makes the final decision as to whether or not to admit you as an LPR. Once you are admitted as an LPR, you generally have the right to live and work in the United States permanently. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services of the Department of Homeland Security will mail your permanent resident card (often called a “green card”) to your new address in the United States, usually within three months of your entry into the United States. Please see 22 CFR 42.11 (PDF -115kb) for a list of immigrant visa classification symbols and a brief description of each.
Visit the U.S. State Department site to learn more about family immigration.