The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues approximately 140,000 immigrant visas every year to foreign employees. Immigrant visas permit employees to work for a U.S. employer and obtain a green card, making them permanent U.S. residents. A different procedure is used for certain foreign employees to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis. If you are an employer or an employee, contact your Cambridge immigration lawyer to determine which type of visa is appropriate for your situation.
Five preference categories
As a Cambridge immigration attorney will advise you, employment-based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories. Each category has its own annual number of visas, requirements, and processing times.
Employment-based immigrant visas are issued in the order in which the petitions were filed until the annual limit for the category is reached. In certain overcrowded categories, the waiting period for a visa may be several years.
EB-1: Priority Workers
- Persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
- Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years’ experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally.
- Multinational managers or 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.
EB-2: Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability
- Professionals holding an advanced degree, or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years progressive experience in the profession.
- Persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.
EB-3: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)
- Skilled workers are persons whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years training or work experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
- 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.
- Unskilled workers (other workers) are persons capable of filling positions that require less than two years training or experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
EB-4: Certain Special Immigrants
- Labor certification is not required for any of these subgroups. Some of these groups include:
- Religious ministers
- Certain employees or former employees of the U.S. government abroad
- Certain former employees in the Panama Canal Zone
- 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.
- Persons recruited outside of the US to serve in the U.S. armed forces.
- Certain retired NATO-6 civilians.
EB-5: Immigrant Investors
- Immigrant investors are people who invest in new commercial enterprises that create U.S. jobs.
Other eligibility requirements
The visa application also requires certain documentation, proof that you can support yourself, a medical examination, vaccinations, and an interview. You may be ineligible if you were involved in drug trafficking, you overstayed a previous visa, or you submitted fraudulent documents.
Labor certification and petition
To obtain an immigrant visa under most of the preference categories, the applicant’s employer will need to obtain a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor. Then the employer will need to file a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Individuals with extraordinary ability in the first preference category can file their own petitions.
A Cambridge immigration attorney at Ionson Law can help you determine which preference category you should file under and can work with you and your employer to make sure all necessary paperwork is completed and filed correctly. For help with employment immigrant visas, call us at (781) 674-2562 to arrange a free consultation.