immigration in the USA

Who can apply?

Introduction  (link)

Family  (link)

Economic immigrants  (link)

Diversity visas (annual lottery)  (link)


The information on this website is updated periodically, but for full details and the latest updates, check the immigration site of the U.S. Department of State.

The annual number of immigrants in the U.S. (link):

  • Year 2007: 434,412
  • Year 2008: 470,100
  • Year 2009: 468,770
  • Year 2010: 482,053
  • Year 2011: 476,249

1. Family (external link):

(a) immediate relatives of a US citizen
This category includes the spouse, widow(er) and minor unmarried children of a U.S. citizen, and the parents of a U.S. citizen who is 21 or older.

There are no quotas for this category.

(b) extended family:

A minimum of 226,000 visas are annually available.
Family-based applications must be made on behalf of the applicant by a U.S. citizen by (1) providing an Affidavit of Support, and (2) filing the appropriate application form with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (=ISN).

This category is divided into four sub-categories:

  • first preference
    This category includes unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and children if any.
  • second preference
    This category includes spouses, children, and unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent resident aliens.
  • third preference
    This category includes married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and children.
  • fourth preference
    This category includes brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens, and their spouses and children, provided the U.S. citizens are at least 21 years of age

2. Economic immigrants, “employment-based immigrants” (link):

Approximately 140,000 visas are annually available.

These applicants fall into five categories, each of which has been allocated a minimum percentage of the annually available visas:

  • priority workers (class E1: 28.6%)
    This category includes persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics; outstanding professors and researchers; and certain multinational executives and managers.
  • members of the professions (class E2: 28.6%)
    This category includes professionals holding advanced degrees, and persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts and business.
    Applicants must obtain certificates from the Department of Labor that there are no qualified workers available for the proposed employment in the U.S.
  • professionals, skilled and unskilled workers (class E3: 28.6%)
    This occupational category includes perosns holding a at least a baccalaureate degree (‘professionals’), occupational categories with at least two years experience (‘skilled workers’), and other workers whose skills are in short supply in the U.S. (‘unskilled workers’ / ‘other workers’).
    Applicants must obtain certificates from the Department of Labor that there are no qualified workers available for the proposed employment in the U.S.
  • special immigrants (class E4: 7.1%)
    This category includes certain religious workers, ministers of religion, certain international organization employees and their immediate family members, and qualified, recommended current and former U.S. Government employees.
    Former U.S. employees must apply to the Secretary of State through a U.S. consular office abroad. All other special immigrants must file an application form with the ISN.
  • investors (class E5: 7.1%)
    This category includes persons who create employment for at least ten unrelated persons by investing capital in a new commercial enterprise in the United States. The minimum capital required is between USD 500,000 and USD 1,000,000, depending on the employment rate in the geographic area.

3. Diversity immigrant visa lottery (link):

A maximum of 55,000 visas are annually available for a random selection of persons from countries with a low rate of immigration into the United States. Applicants from such countries (usually including the Netherlands and many other European countries) must have at least:

  • a successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education
  • OR at least two years of work experience (in the five years immediately before the date of application) in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience to perform (the U.S. Department of Labor determines if the apllicant’s specific work experience is sufficient)

The entry form (Diversity Visa Entry Form) can be downloaded free of charge (link). Succesful candidates will be notified by letter (i.e. NOT by email).

For 2009 and 2010 there were respectively 9.1 and 13.6 million entries, for 2011 and 2012, the number of applicants was respectively 16.5 and 19.7 million. And for 2013, the number was 12.6 million. For the Netherlands, respectively 226 (out of 9441 applicants), 200 (out of 8125). 139 (out of 9453), 149 (out of 9889), and 109 (out of 9962) applicants were randomly selected.

The nearest embassy for visa enquiries is in Amsterdam:

US Consulate General
Immigrant Visa Unit
Museumplein 19
Fax number (31)(0)20-575 5389 (address to Immigrant Visa Services)
Website: click here