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Employment-Based Immigration: An Introduction to the Various Visa Options

Posted by Kripa Upadhyay | Sep 16, 2021

Employment-Based Immigration: An Introduction to the Various Visa Options

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) offer approximately 140,000 employment-based visas each fiscal year to immigrant workers. Employment-based immigration visas offer foreign workers the opportunity to immigrate to the United States. While non-immigration visas offer temporary residency in the United States, employment-based immigration visas provide lawful permanent residency.

After five years of being a lawful permanent resident, immigrant workers can apply for U.S. citizenship. Some employment-based immigrant visas offer workers to bring their children and spouses with them into the United States. Eligible family members may become permanent residents of the U.S. through the worker's EB visa.  

The Five Employment-Based Preference Categories

There are five categories of employment-based visas, and the immigration qualifications and opportunities vary for each individual. For you to be considered for an EB visa, you'll need to find the specific category you fall under: 

Employment First Preference (EB-1)

The first preference visa is designated for priority workers that fall under three sub-groups:

  • EB-1A visa: For those with an extraordinary ability in athletics, education, business, arts, or science. An EB-1A applicant must have significant evidence showcasing that they have attained widespread recognition for their achievements.
  • EB-1B visa: If an individual is an outstanding researcher and professor, they can qualify for the EB-1B visa. The applicant must have international acclaim and at least three years of research or training before coming to the United States to pursue tenure.
  • EB-1C visa: The EB-1C visa is for multinational executives or managers that have been employed by the overseas parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of a prospective U.S. employer in a managerial or executive role for at least one of the prior three years.

According to the U.S. Department of State, EB-1 accounts for 28.6% of all employment-based visas each year. However, those with extraordinary ability or research need to provide extensive amounts of evidence proving their recognition. 

Employment Second Preference (EB-2)

For the second employment preference types, foreign workers that have advanced degrees or whose immigration is in the national interest fall under this category:

  • Professionals holding an advanced degree: If an immigrant has beyond a baccalaureate degree or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years progressive experience in the profession, they are eligible for an EB-2 immigrant visa. 
  • Persons with exceptional ability: People with exceptional abilities in the sciences, arts, or business can qualify for the EB-2 visa. The ability needs to be significantly above the average person in that specific category of sciences, arts, or business.
  • Aliens seeking a national interest waiver: A person must show that their immigration to the United States will benefit the country's cultural or educational interests, economy, or welfare. 

Foreign nationals who qualify for the EB-2 visa must provide evidence of their degrees or abilities. Immigrants from China and India are currently backlogged due to the oversubscription of visa applicants. 

Employment Third Preference (EB-3)

For a foreign national to obtain permanent residency in the third preference category, they must acquire an individual Labor Certification certified by the U.S. Department of Labor, as well as an offer of full-time, permanent employment.

  • Professionals: Immigrants whose occupations require at least a baccalaureate degree from a U.S. university or college or its foreign equivalent degree.
  • Skilled workers: Individuals with two years of job training or work experience, not temporary or seasonal, can qualify for this visa. 
  • Unskilled workers: Those considered unskilled workers are people who are capable of filling non-seasonal occupations that require less than two years of job training or work experience.

While the requirements for the EB-3 visa are considerably less stringent than the previous two, the large backlog makes it difficult for immigrants to obtain this visa option.  

Employment Fourth Preference (EB-4)

The fourth preference is reserved for special immigrants. While most of these visas are filled with religious leaders, the following are some other examples of special immigrants: 

  • Broadcasters in the U.S.
  • Certain Foreign Medical Graduates
  • Certain Retired International Organization Employees
  • Special Immigrant Juveniles
  • Certain retired NATO-6 civilians
  • Certain Religious Workers

The EB-4 visa rarely meets its annual quota due to its underutilization. Near the end of the fiscal year, the EB-4 visas are distributed among the other employment-based visas. 

Employment Fifth Preference (EB-5)

For the final employment-based visa, the individuals who make up this category are designated to foreign investors. The requirements for the EB-5 visa depend on the track each investor divides to take. Currently, there are many changes in the process with this visa and limit those interested in the process. However, this preference works to boost the United States' economy through foreign capital and job creation. 

Contact a Dependable Washington Immigration Visa Lawyer at Orbit Law

Navigating the different employment visas and gathering the necessary documentation can be overwhelming. An experienced employment-based immigration lawyer at Orbit Law can offer you extensive knowledge and resources for your application. With laws and requirements changing all the time, it's a good idea to have a dependable attorney at your side. 

Call (206) 623-3352 or fill out our contact form for more information about our services. 

About the Author

Kripa Upadhyay

Kripa Upadhyay Founder/Attorney [email protected] EDUCATION Seattle University School of Law, Seattle, WA, Juris Doctor (JD)  May 2007 ADMISSIONS Washington State Bar Association: Admitted May 2008 U.S District Court for the Eastern District of Washington: Admitted 2009 U.S...