Employment-Based Immigration

Employment-based Immigration entails using an employment opportunity to enter and stay in the United States legally. Every year, approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are available to qualified applicants. US Immigration law also allows the spouses and children of the applicants to accompany the employment-based immigrants.

Employment-based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories.

  • EB-1 – Priority workers. (First Preference)
  • EB-2 – Professionals holding exceptional degrees and persons of exceptional ability. (Second Preference)
  • EB-3 – Skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers. (Third Preference)
  • EB-4 – Certain special immigrants. (Fourth Preference)
  • EB-5 – Immigrant Investors. (Fifth Preference)

Employment First Preference (EB1): Priority Workers:

There are three sub-groups within this category:

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    1. Persons with Extraordinary Ability: This category entails persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Extensive documentation must be provided showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in their fields of expertise. These applicants may enter the United States without specific job offers, but they must have intention of continuing work in the field where they have the extraordinary ability. No Alien Worker petition is necessary here.
    2. Outstanding Professors and Researchers: This category includes outstanding professionals with at least three years of experience in teaching or research. These individuals must also who are recognized internationally. Applicants in this category must be coming to the U.S. to pursue tenure, tenure track teaching, or a comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education. The prospective employer must provide a job offer and file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with the USCIS.
    3. Multinational Managers or Executives: This category includes multinational managers and executives who have been employed for at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer. The applicant’s employment outside of the U.S. must have been in a managerial or executive capacity, and the applicant must be coming to work in a managerial or executive capacity. The prospective employer must provide a job offer and file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with the USCIS.


Employment Second Preference (EB2): Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability:

An immigrant who pursues employment-based immigration in the second preference to obtain a Visa to enter the United States must generally have a labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. A job offer is required and the U.S. employer must file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker on behalf of the applicant.

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Applicants must also apply for a National Interest Waiver, which is a petition that the work will be in the nation’s best interest. In this case, the applicant may self-petition by filing the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, along with evidence of the national interest.

There are two subgroups within this category:

    1. Professionals Holding an Advanced Degree: These professionals must have an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years progressive experience in the profession.
    2. Persons with Exceptional Ability: These are persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability means that person must have a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.


Employment Third Preference (EB3): Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers:

These applicants must have an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, filed by the prospective worker. Third preference applicants require labor certification approved by the Department of Labor.

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There are three subgroups within this category:

    1. Skilled workers: Skilled workers are persons whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years training or work experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
    2. Professionals: Professionals are members of the professions whose jobs require at least a baccalaureate degree from a U.S. university or college or its foreign equivalent degree.
    3. Unskilled workers (Other workers): Unskilled workers are persons capable of filling positions that require less than two years training or experience that are not temporary or seasonal.


Employment Fourth Preference (EB4): Certain Special Immigrants:

An immigrant who pursues Employment-based Immigration in the fourth preference must be the beneficiary of an approved Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant with the exception of Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad (see number 3 below). Labor certification is not required for Fourth Preference Employment-based Immigration.

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Subgroups within this category may include:

    • Broadcasters in the U.S. employed by the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or a grantee of such organization;
    • Former Employees of the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone;
    • Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government on April 1st, 1979;
    • Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad;
    • Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government;
    • Iraqi and Afghan interpreters/translators who have worked directly with the United States armed forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator/interpreter for a period of at least 12 months and meet requirements.
    • Iraqi and Afghan nationals who have provided faithful and valuable service while employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq for not less than one year after March 20th, 2003 or in Afghanistan for not less than one year after October 7th, 2001, and have experienced an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of that employment;
    • Foreign Medical Graduates (Adjustments Only);
    • Retired International Organization Employees;
    • Unmarried Sons and Daughters of International Organization Employees;
    • Surviving Spouses of deceased International Organization Employees;
    • Special Immigrant Juveniles (no family member derivatives; Adjustments Only);
    • Persons Recruited Outside of the United States Who Have Served or are Enlisted to Serve in the U.S. Armed Forces;
    • Retired NATO-6 civilians;
    • Unmarried Sons and Daughters of NATO-6 civilians;
    • Surviving Spouses of deceased NATO-6 civilian employees;
    • Persons who are beneficiaries of petitions or labor certification applications filed prior to September 11th, 2001, if the petition or application was rendered void due to a terrorist act on September 11th, 2001;
    • Ministers of Religion; and
    • Religious Workers.


Employment Fifth Preference (EB5): Immigrant Investors:

The Employment-based Fifth Preference category includes Immigrant Investor visa categories for capital investment by foreign investors in new commercial enterprises in the United States, which provide job creation.

***Note*** Based on your approved petition, your spouse and minor unmarried children, younger than 21, may apply for immigrant visas with you. Like you, they must also fill out required application forms, obtain required civil documents, pay the required fees, and undergo medical examinations.

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