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Immigrant visas

General Information on Immigrant Visas

To enter the United States to reside permanently, you need an immigrant visa, even if you do not plan to seek employment.  To obtain an immigrant visa, you must be sponsored by either:

  1. U.S. employer (employment-based immigrant visas), or
  2. close family relative who is an American citizen or a legal permanent resident (family-based immigrant visas).

Once a person enters the U.S. on an immigrant visa, he or she is issued a so-called “green card” by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which identifies the person as a legal permanent resident.  To maintain status as a legal permanent resident, a person generally cannot be outside the U.S. for more than one year at a time.

U.S. citizens living overseas are no longer be able to routinely file Forms I-130, Petitions for Alien Relative, with U.S. Embassies overseas. U.S. citizens living in Iceland who wish to file for immigration benefits for their non-U.S. citizen family members may do so as follows:

The Form I-130 must be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service

For information about how to file a Form I-130 with USCIS, please see the USCIS website at or contact USCIS by phone at 1-800-375-5283.

Locally filing of the Form I-130 Immigrant Visa Petition:

In order to qualify for local filing of an I-130 petition directly to the U.S. Embassy in Iceland, a case must meet one or more exceptional circumstances.

The following are examples of the types of exceptional circumstances where me may request exceptional authorization from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to accept I-130 petitions here at the Embassy:

(a)  U.S. Military deployment or transfer:  A U.S. service member overseas, assigned to non-military bases or on temporary duty orders, becomes aware of a new deployment or transfer with very little notice.  This should be an exception to the regular relocation process for most service members.

(b)  Medical emergencies:  A petitioner or beneficiary is facing an urgent medical emergency that requires immediate travel.  This includes if the petitioner or beneficiary is pregnant and delaying travel may create a medical risk or extreme hardship for the mother or child.

(c)  Threats to personal safety:  A petitioner or beneficiary is facing an imminent threat to personal safety. 

(d)  Cases close to aging out:  A beneficiary is within a few months of aging out of eligibility.

(e)  Cases where the petitioner has recently naturalized:  The petitioner and family have traveled for the immigrant visa interview but the petitioner has naturalized and the family member(s) require a new, stand-alone petition.

(f)   Adoption of a child:  A petitioner who has adopted a child locally and has an imminent need to depart the country. This exception should only be considered if the child has been in the petitioner’s legal and physical custody for at least two years and the petitioner has a full and final adoption decree on behalf of the child.

(g)  Short notice of position relocation:  A U.S. Citizen petitioner, living and working abroad, who receives a job relocation within the same company or subsidiary to the United States, or an offer of a new job in the United States with very little notice.

(h)  Other: Other emergency situations, as determined by the Consular Section. 

If you believe you have a case that meets one or more of the above exceptional circumstances, you are welcome request consideration for local filing of the I-130 petition by writing to the Consular section of the U.S. Embassy in Reykjavik, Iceland at with a full and detailed explanation of the circumstances of the case together with scan copies of any supporting documentation.

Please note that authorization to accept a local filing must be granted by the regional USCIS Field Office Director (or his/her designee).  If it appears that that case qualifies, we will contact the appropriate USCIS field office, providing the specifics of the reason for the exception request.  USCIS will have discretion to determine if the case can be processed using local filing procedures, or whether the case must be filed with USCIS in the United States.  

 Please contact the Consular Section at for further information.

Employment-based immigration

There are five categories of employment-based immigrant visas.  For a further description of each one, click here 

The Embassy cannot process these kinds of visas until a petition has been filed with and been approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Family-based immigration

The spouses, children, parents, brothers and sisters of U.S. citizens may be eligible for family-based immigrant visas.  Only the spouse and children of legal permanent residents, however, are eligible for such visas.

The Embassy cannot process these kinds of visas until a petition has been filed with and approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. more.

Please contact the Consular Section at for further information.