Employment-based immigrant visas

There are five employment-based immigration preference categories.

Each year roughly 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are made available. These visas are available to people with particular job-related skills. Below is a summary of the five types of employment-based immigrant visas.

Employment-based immigration: first preference (EB-1)

This first preference category is reserved for persons of "extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics." It also includes "outstanding" researchers or professors as well as executives and managers of multinational corporations and businesses. A labor certification is not required for this preference category.

Employment-based immigration: second preference (EB-2)

This second preference category is reserved for people who are engaged in jobs for which advanced degrees are required. It is also for people with "exceptional ability" in the arts, sciences or business. For this preference category, a labor certification is generally required.

Employment-based immigration: third Preference (EB-3)

This third preference category is reserved for "professional" or "skilled" workers. Skilled workers are those performing work for which there are not already qualified workers in the United States. A skilled worker must be able to prove at least two years of on-the-job work or experience.

Professional workers must also be performing work for which there are not already qualified workers in the United States; however, unlike skilled workers, professional workers must prove that they have a college degree which is required for entry into a particular profession. A degree is required for professional workers and work experience or training cannot be used as a replacement.

For people seeking entry in this category, a labor certification is required.

Employment-based immigration: fourth preference (EB-4)

This fourth preference category is reserved for "special immigrants." According to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, special immigrants include:

  • Certain religious workers
  • Employees of U.S. foreign service posts
  • Retired employees of international organizations
  • Alien minors who are wards of courts in the United States
  • Other specific classes of aliens

A labor certification is not required for this preference category.

Employment-based immigration: fifth preference (EB-5)

This fifth preference category is reserved for "business investors." An investor qualifies as a "business investor" if the investment totals $1 million or, if made in a targeted employment area, $500,000. The investment must also be made in a new commercial enterprise and no less than 10 full-time U.S. workers must be employed. A labor certification is not required for this preference category.

Speak to an employment immigration attorney

Employment-based immigration can be a confusing process and waiting periods can vary widely. It is important that technical requirements are followed strictly. If you are a U.S. employer and have questions about employing foreign workers, it is critical to work with an experienced immigration lawyer who can provide you with the guidance you and your business require. To schedule a meeting with an attorney, please call 210-544-5105 or contact us through our website.