Foreign nationals may also be sponsored for permanent residency by a potential employer in the United States. Employment-based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories, are subject to annual visa limits (quotas), and may require a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the filing of a petition with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (US CIS). As with the non-immigrant work visas, employment-based sponsorships for permanent residency are dependent upon the position which is being offered as well as the applicant’s qualifications for the proffered position.
The availability of a visa depends on the preference category in which the petition falls. The preference categories are as follows:
EB1 – First Preference
- Persons of Extraordinary Ability – similar requirements to the non-immigrant O-1 category
- Outstanding Professors and Researchers – similar requirements to the non-immigrant category of O-1
- Multinational Executives and Managers – similar requirements to the non-immigrant category of L1-A
No Labor Certification with the DOL is necessary under these categories.
EB2 – Second Preference
- Members of Professions holding Advanced Degrees—advance degrees generally meaning higher than a Bachelor’s degree; or
Aliens of Exceptional Ability in the sciences, arts or business and will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural, or educational interests or welfare of the United States.
Generally, beneficiaries under this category must have a job offer and the Petitioner must complete the labor certification process. However, if the individual can show that his/her entry is in the national interest, the job offer and labor certification requirements can be waived.
EB3 – Third Preference
- Skilled Workers, Professionals and other Workers
Skilled workers are those whose positions require a minimum of two years of training or experience. Professionals must possess a bachelor degree in the field and must establish that a bachelor degree is the normal requirement for entry into the profession. Other Workers refers to other unskilled workers.
Visa holders under normal circumstances must have a job offer and the employer must complete the labor certification process.