03. Employment Based Visas
Foreign workers can permanently immigrate to the United States with an Employment-Based Immigrant Visa (EB Visa). Approximately 140,000 employment based visas are made available to immigrant workers each year by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Unlike non-immigrant visas, employment-based immigrant visas give applicants the basis to apply for lawful permanent residency in the United States. After five years of being a lawful permanent resident, foreign nationals may apply for U.S. citizenship. Therefore, foreign workers, their children, and their spouses may be eligible to permanently live and work in the United States if they qualify for one of five employment based visa categories.
The five EB visa categories are Employment First Preference (EB-1 visa), Employment Second Preference (EB-2 visa), Employment Third Preference (EB-3 visa), Employment Fourth Preference (EB-4 visa), and Employment Fifth Preference (EB-5 visa). The processing times for each of these categories vary on a case-by-case basis.
Employment First Preference visas (EB-1 visas) are reserved for those designated as priority workers. There are three sub-groups of EB-1 visas.
EB-1A visas are for those with extraordinary ability in athletics, education, business, arts, or science. EB-1A applicants must have ample evidence demonstrating that they have attained widespread acclaim for their achievements and expertise.
EB-1B visas are for outstanding researchers and professors. EB-1B visa applicants must have international recognition and at least three years of research or training. They must be coming to the United States to pursue tenure.
EB-1C visas are for multinational executives or managers. EB-1C applicants must have been employed by the overseas parent, branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of the prospective U.S. employer in a managerial or executive role for at least one of the prior three years.
EB-1 priority worker visas account for 28. 6 percent of all employment based visas each year. EB-1 visas rarely exceed their allotted amount and, as a result, the category rarely becomes backlogged.
Employment Second Preference visas (EB-2 visas) are reserved for foreign workers who have advanced degrees, exceptional ability, and/or whose immigration is in the national interest.
Professionals holding an advanced degree or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years of progressive experience are eligible for the EB-2 visa.
Professionals with exceptional ability must have a degree of expertise significantly above the ordinary.
Aliens seeking a national interest waiver must demonstrate that his/her immigration to the U.S. will prospectively benefit the economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare of the United States because of his/her exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.
Approximately 28.6 percent of employment- based visas are reserved for EB-2 visa applicants. Applicants from China and India are backlogged in the EB-2 category because of oversubscription.
Employment Third Preference visas (EB-3 visas) are for unskilled workers, skilled workers, and professionals. These terms are defined as:
Professionals are persons whose occupations require at least a four year college or university degree
Skilled workers are persons who have two years of job training or work experience
Unskilled workers are persons who will fill non-seasonal occupations that require less than two years of job training or work experience.
All EB-3 applicants must obtain Labor Certification with the U.S. Department of Labor (PERM). As with EB-1 and EB-2 visas, 28.6 percent of all employment based visas are reserved for the EB-3 visa category. There is a considerable backlog of visas for EB-3 applicants.
Employment Fourth Preference visas (EB-4 visas) are designated for special immigrants. Most of these visas are allocated towards religious workers. However, EB-4 visas are also designated for broadcasters, Iraqi or Afghan translators, physicians, military members, international organization workers, Panama Canal Zone employees, Iraqis who have assisted the United States, and retired NATO employees. Approximately 7.1 percent of all worldwide employment based visas are reserved for EB-4 special immigrants. EB-4 visas are underutilized and the EB-4 quota is rarely met. In fact, many EB-4 visas are distributed among the other employment-based visa categories near the end of the fiscal year so that they are not lost.
Employment Fifth Preferences visas (EB-5 visas) are designated for foreign investors. EB-5 visa applicants must make either a $500,000 or $1 million capital investment in a U.S. business entity that creates at least 10 full-time jobs. The mandatory capital requirement depends on where the U.S. company receiving the investment is located. EB-5 investors have the option to invest in business entities called regional centers which receive USCIS designation to manage EB-5 investment projects. The USCIS reserves 10,000 visas for EB-5 applicants each year. Of these visas, 3,000 are reserved for foreigners who invest in EB-5 Regional Centers.