Employment-based visas (EB visas) allow foreign nationals to live and work in the United States with permanent residency. These visas are divided into five preference categories, each with their own qualifications. EB visas are different from other visas because each preference category is specific to certain industries, skill sets, and types of employment.
Every fiscal year (October 1st – September 30th), approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are made available to qualified applicants. If you are interested in applying for employment-based immigration, reach out to an immigration attorney for more information and to schedule your consultation to begin the process of applying for any of the EB visas.
First Preference: EB-1 Visa
There are three subgroups for who can apply for an EB-1 visa. The first applies to persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. To apply within this category, you must have extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in your field of expertise. You don’t have to have a specific job offer to apply, so long as you are entering the US to continue work in the field which you have extraordinary ability.
The second subgroup is for outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years experience teaching or research, and who are recognized internationally. To apply within this category, you must be coming to the US with the intent of pursuing tenure, tenure-track teaching, or a comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education.
The third subgroup is for multinational managers and executives. You must have been employed within the company for at least one to three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the US employer. Your employment outside of the US must have been in a managerial or executive capacity, and you must be coming to the US to work in a managerial or executive capacity.
Second Preference: EB-2 Visa
The EB-2 visa is for professionals holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability. There are two sub-groups within this preference category. The first is for professionals holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years of progressive experience in the profession.
The second subgroup is for persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability is defined as having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.
Third Preference: EB-3 Visa
The EB-3 visa is for skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers or other workers. There are three sub-groups in this preference category. Skilled workers are persons whose job requires a minimum of two years of training or work experience that are not temporary or seasonal. Professionals are members of the professions whose job requires at least a baccalaureate degree from a US university or college or its foreign equivalent degree. Unskilled or other workers are persons capable of filling positions that require less than two years training or experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
Fourth Preference: EB-4 Visa
The EB-4 visa is for certain special immigrants compared to other EB visas. There are many subgroups within this category including; broadcasters in the US employed by the International Broadcasting Bureaus of Broadcasting Board of Governors or grantee of such organization, ministers of religion, certain employees or former employees of the US government abroad, certain former employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government, to name a few.
Fifth Preference: EB-5 Visa
The EB-5 visa is for immigrant investors who are investing capital in new commercial enterprises in the United States, which will provide ten new jobs for American workers. This investment has a minimum threshold of $1,000,000.
The Application Process for EB Visas
The first steps toward applying for an employment-based visa require the employer or agent to obtain a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor. Once received, the employer must then file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140 with USCIS. Persons with extraordinary abilities applying for the first preference category are able to file their own petitions.
Once USCIS approves the petition, it is then sent to the National Visa Center (NVC). When they receive the application they will instruct the applicant when to complete Form DS-261, Choice of Address and Agent. Appropriate fees must be paid, and then NVC will request the applicant submit the necessary immigrant visa documents, including application forms, civil documents, and more. All employment-based visas are issued in the chronological order in which the petitions were filed until the annual numerical limit for the category is reached.
After this, NVA will schedule an interview at the US Embassy or Consulate in the applicant’s country. Before the interview, the applicant must undergo a medical examination which is performed by an authorized panel physician. This interview will determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive an immigrant visa in accordance with US immigration law.