Employment Based Visas
The following information excerpted from DHS USCIS public information provides a basic explanation of the various employment based visas. Do you have an offer of permanent employment in the U.S. or possess an extraordinary ability? One way to becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States is permanent employment. We can help you with Employment Based immigration visas and related immigration concerns. We also assist corporations and employers seeking to hire foreign workers and file labor certification requests and petitions for non-documented workers or sponsor foreign workers, and we complete all other steps necessary to legally hire foreign national workers.
Employment-Based Immigration: First Preference EB-1
You may be eligible for an employment-based, first-preference visa if you have an extraordinary ability, are an outstanding professor or researcher, or are a multinational executive or manager. Each occupational category has certain requirements that must be met:
You must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics through sustained national or international acclaim. Your achievements must be recognized in your field through extensive documentation. No offer of employment is required.
You must meet 3 of 10 criteria that establishes your qualifications, or provide evidence of a one-time achievement (i.e., Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic Medal)
Outstanding professors and researchers
You must demonstrate international recognition for your outstanding achievements in a particular academic field. You must have at least 3 years’ experience in teaching or research in that academic area. You must be entering the United States in order to pursue tenure or tenure track teaching or comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education…. requires an offer of employment.
Multinational manager or executive
You must have been employed outside the United States in the 3 years preceding the petition for at least 1 year by a firm or corporation and you must be seeking to enter the United States to continue service to that firm or organization. Your employment must have been outside the United States in a managerial or executive capacity and with the same employer, an affiliate, or a subsidiary of the employer.
Your petitioning employer must be a U.S. employer. Your employer must have been doing business for at least 1 year, as an affiliate, a subsidiary, or as the same corporation or other legal entity that employed you abroad.
Employment-Based Immigration: Second Preference EB-2
You may be eligible for an employment-based, second preference visa if you are a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent, or a foreign national who has exceptional ability. Below are the occupational categories and requirements:
Advanced degree or equivalent
The job you apply for must require an advanced degree and you must possess such a degree or its equivalent (a baccalaureate degree plus 5 years progressive work experience in the field).
Documentation, such as an official academic record showing that you have a U.S. advanced degree or a foreign equivalent degree, or an official academic record showing that you have a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent degree and letters from current or former employers showing that you have at least 5 years of progressive post-baccalaureate work experience in the specialty.
You must be able to show exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability “means a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.”
National Interest Waiver
Aliens seeking a national interest waiver are requesting that the Labor Certification be waived because it is in the interest of the United States. Though the jobs that qualify for a national interest waiver are not defined by statute, national interest waivers are usually granted to those who have exceptional ability (see above) and whose employment in the United States would greatly benefit the national. Those seeking a national interest waiver may self-petition (they do not need an employer to sponsor them) and may file their labor certification directly with USCIS along with their Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.
You must meet certain criteria and demonstrate that it is in the national interest that you work permanently in the United States.
Note: Employment-based, second-preference petitions must generally be accompanied by an approved individual labor certification from the Department of Labor.
Family of EB-2 Visa Holders …Your spouse and children under the age of 18 may be admitted to the United States in E-21 and E-22 immigrant status, respectively. During the process where you and your spouse are applying for permanent resident status (status as a green card holder), your spouse is eligible to file for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).
Employment-Based Immigration: Third Preference EB-3
You may be eligible for this immigrant visa preference category if you are a skilled worker, professional, or other worker.
“Skilled workers” are persons whose job requires a minimum of 2 years training or work experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature
“Professionals” are persons whose job requires a minimum U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent and are a member of the professions
The “other workers” subcategory is for persons performing unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature.
You must be able to demonstrate at least 2 years of job experience or training
You must be performing work for which qualified workers are not available in the United States. Labor certification and a permanent, full-time job offer required.
You must be able to demonstrate that you possess a U.S. baccalaureate degree or foreign degree equivalent, and that a baccalaureate degree is the normal requirement for entry into the occupation
You must be performing work for which qualified workers are not available in the United States. Education and experience may not be substituted for a baccalaureate degree
Labor certification and a permanent, full-time job offer required.
Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)
You must be capable, at the time the petition is filed on your behalf, of performing unskilled labor (requiring less than 2 years training or experience), that is not of a temporary or seasonal nature, for which qualified workers are not available in the United States. Labor certification and a permanent, full-time job offer are required.
Note: While eligibility requirements for the third preference classification are less stringent, you should be aware that a long backlog exists for visas in the “other workers” category.
Family of EB-3 Visa Holders
Your spouse may be admitted to the United States in E34 (spouse of a “skilled worker” or “professional”) or EW4 (spouse of an “other worker”). During the process where you and your spouse are applying for permanent resident status (status as a green card holder), your spouse is eligible to file for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). Your minor children (under the age of 18) may be admitted as E35 (child of a “skilled worker” or “professional”) or EW5 (child of an “other worker”).
Employment-Based Immigration: Fourth Preference EB-4
You may be eligible for an employment-based, fourth preference visa if you are a special immigrant. The following special immigrants are eligible for the fourth preference visa:
- Religious Workers
- Iraqi/Afghan Translators
- Iraqis Who Have Assisted the United States
- International Organization Employees
- Armed Forces Members
- Panama Canal Zone Employees
- Retired NATO-6 employees
- Spouses and Children of Deceased NATO-6 employees
- Petitioning for an Employment-Based Fourth Preference Immigrant
Family of EB-4 Visa Holders
Your spouse may also be admitted to the United States. Your children, unmarried under the age of 21, may be admitted to the United States.
Broadcaster means a reporter, writer, translator, editor, producer or announcer for news broadcasts; hosts for news broadcasts, news analysis, editorial and other broadcast features; or a news analysis specialist.
The International Broadcasting Bureau of the United States Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), or a grantee of the BBG, may petition for an alien (and the alien’s accompanying spouse and children) to work as a broadcaster for the BBG.
Employment-Based Immigration: Fifth Preference EB-5
USCIS administers the Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5,” created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a pilot immigration program first enacted in 1992 and regularly reauthorized since, certain EB-5 visas also are set aside for investors in Regional Centers designated by USCIS based on proposals for promoting economic growth.
All EB-5 investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise, which is a commercial enterprise:
Established after Nov. 29, 1990, or
Established on or before Nov. 29, 1990, that is:
- Purchased and the existing business is restructured or reorganized in such a way that a new commercial enterprise results, or
- Expanded through the investment so that a 40-percent increase in the net worth or number of employees occurs
Commercial enterprise means any for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business including, but not limited to:
- A sole proprietorship
- Partnership (whether limited or general)
- Holding company
- Joint venture
- Business trust or other entity, which may be publicly or privately owned
This definition includes a commercial enterprise consisting of a holding company and its wholly owned subsidiaries, provided that each such subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business.
Note: This definition does not include noncommercial activity such as owning and operating a personal residence.
Job Creation Requirements
Create or preserve at least 10 full-time jobs for qualifying U.S. workers within two years (or under certain circumstances, within a reasonable time after the two-year period) of the immigrant investor’s admission to the United States as a Conditional Permanent Resident. Create or preserve either direct or indirect jobs:
Direct jobs are actual identifiable jobs for qualified employees located within the commercial enterprise into which the EB-5 investor has directly invested his or her capital.
Indirect jobs are those jobs shown to have been created collaterally or as a result of capital invested in a commercial enterprise affiliated with a regional center by an EB-5 investor. A foreign investor may only use the indirect job calculation if affiliated with a regional center.
Note: Investors may only be credited with preserving jobs in a troubled business.
A troubled business is an enterprise that has been in existence for at least two years and has incurred a net loss during the 12- or 24-month period prior to the priority date on the immigrant investor’s Form I-526. The loss for this period must be at least 20 percent of the troubled business’ net worth prior to the loss. For purposes of determining whether the troubled business has been in existence for two years, successors in interest to the troubled business will be deemed to have been in existence for the same period of time as the business they succeeded.
A qualified employee is a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or other immigrant authorized to work in the United States. The individual may be a conditional resident, an asylee, a refugee, or a person residing in the United States under suspension of deportation. This definition does not include the immigrant investor; his or her spouse, sons, or daughters; or any foreign national in any nonimmigrant status (such as an H-1B visa holder) or who is not authorized to work in the United States.
Full-time employment means employment of a qualifying employee by the new commercial enterprise in a position that requires a minimum of 35 working hours per week. In the case of the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, “full-time employment” also means employment of a qualifying employee in a position that has been created indirectly from investments associated with the Pilot Program.
A job-sharing arrangement whereby two or more qualifying employees share a full-time position will count as full-time employment provided the hourly requirement per week is met. This definition does not include combinations of part-time positions or full-time equivalents even if, when combined, the positions meet the hourly requirement per week. The position must be permanent, full-time and constant. The two qualified employees sharing the job must be permanent and share the associated benefits normally related to any permanent, full-time position, including payment of both workman’s compensation and unemployment premiums for the position by the employer.
Capital Investment Requirements
Capital means cash, equipment, inventory, other tangible property, cash equivalents and indebtedness secured by assets owned by the alien entrepreneur, provided that the alien entrepreneur is personally and primarily liable and that the assets of the new commercial enterprise upon which the petition is based are not used to secure any of the indebtedness. All capital shall be valued at fair-market value in United States dollars. Assets acquired, directly or indirectly, by unlawful means (such as criminal activities) shall not be considered capital for the purposes of section 203(b)(5) of the Act.
Note: Investment capital cannot be borrowed.
Required minimum investments are:
- General, The minimum qualifying investment in the United States is $1 million.
- Targeted Employment Area (High Unemployment or Rural Area). The minimum qualifying investment either within a high-unemployment area or rural area in the United States is $500,000
- A targeted employment area is an area that, at the time of investment, is a rural area or an area experiencing unemployment of at least 150 percent of the national average rate.
- A rural area is any area outside a metropolitan statistical area (as designated by the Office of Management and Budget) or outside the boundary of any city or town having a population of 20,000 or more according to the decennial census