The Immigration and Nationality Act provides a yearly minimum of 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas which are divided into five preference categories. They may require a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the filing of a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (USCIS).
Employment First Preference (EB-1)
Priority Workers. All Priority Workers must be the beneficiaries of an approved Form I- 140, Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker, filed with USCIS.
Within this first preference there are three sub-groups:
- Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics: Applicants in this category must have extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in the field of expertise. Such applicants can file their own petition with the USCIS, rather than through an employer.
- Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally. No labor certification is required for this classification, but the prospective employer must provide a job offer and file a petition with the USCIS.
- Certain executives and managers who have been employed at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer. The applicant must be coming to work in a managerial or executive capacity. No labor certification is required for this classification, but the prospective employer must provide a job offer and file a petition with the USCIS.
Employment Second Preference (EB-2)
Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees, or Persons of Exceptional Ability in the Arts, Sciences, or Business. All Second Preference applicants must have a labor certification approved by the DOL, or Schedule A designation, or establish that they qualify for one of the shortage occupations in the Labor Market Information Pilot Program (later). A job offer is required and the U.S. employer must file a petition on behalf of the applicant.
There are two subgroups within this category:
- Professionals holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years progressive experience in the profession.
- Persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business. Exceptional ability means having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered within the field.
Employment Third Preference (EB-3)
Skilled Workers, Professionals Holding Baccalaureate Degrees and Other Workers. All such workers require a labor certification, or Schedule A designation, or evidence that they qualify for one of the shortage occupations in the Labor Market Information Pilot Program.
There are three subgroups within this category:
- Skilled workers are persons capable of performing a job requiring at least two years” training or experience;
- Professionals with a baccalaureate degree are members of a profession with at least a university bachelor’s degree; and
- Other workers are those persons capable of filling positions requiring less than two years” training or experience.
Employment Fourth Preference (EB-4)
Different types of special immigrants provided for under immigrant law are listed below:
- Broadcaster in the U.S. employed by the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or a grantee of such organization
- Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad;
- Employee of the Mission in Hong Kong
- Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government
- Certain Former Employees of the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone
- Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government on April 1, 1979
Employment Fifth Preference (EB-5)
Employment Creation Investors. All applicants must file a Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur with USCIS. To qualify, an alien must invest between U.S. $500,000 and $1,000,000, depending on the employment rate in the geographical area, in a commercial enterprise in the United States which creates at least 10 new full-time jobs for U.S. citizens, permanent resident aliens, or other lawful immigrants, not including the investor and his or her family.