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Employment-based Permanent Residency

Employment-based Permanent Residency

The United States has been built, in part, by the collective efforts of immigrants. As our country values the contributions made by foreign citizens who choose to live and work in America, U.S. immigration law provides a pathway to permanent residency through employment. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), there are roughly 140,000 immigrant visas available each fiscal year for foreign workers and their spouses and children. These visas will allow foreign workers to travel to and enter the U.S., where they can later obtain their green cards, or permanent resident status, which will allow them to live and work in the country on a permanent basis.

Worker Visa Categories

There are five categories of permanent worker visa preference classifications under which foreign workers or their employers can file petitions to immigrate. These categories are organized by the type of skills, education and work experience of eligible foreign citizens.

First Preference EB-1

First-preference classifications are reserved for individuals who have exemplified extraordinary abilities in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, outstanding professors or researchers and multinational executives and managers.

Second Preference EB-2

Individuals who are members of professions with advanced degrees will fall into the second-preference category. This classification is also reserved for persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business.

Third Preference EB-3

EB-3 preference is given to professionals, skilled workers, and other workers. In order to qualify, applicants must demonstrate at least two years of job experience or training, perform work for which qualified U.S. workers are not available, and / or possess a U.S. baccalaureate degree or foreign equivalent.

Fourth Preference EB-4

Fourth preference is available for “special immigrants,” which includes certain religious workers, employees of U.S. Foreign Service posts, retired employees of international organizations, alien minors who are wards of courts, and broadcasters, among others.

Fifth Preference EB-5

Fifth preference is reserved for business investors. Eligible applicants must invest $1 million or $500,000 (if the investment is made in a specific sector) in a new commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers.

Labor Certification

Second-preference EB-1 and third-preference EB-3 applicants must already have a job offer from a U.S. employer, who will be considered their sponsor. Some visa categories will require the employer to obtain an approved labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) before submitting an immigration petition. The DOL labor certification verifies that: 1) there are insufficient available, qualified, and willing U.S. workers to fill the position being offered, and 2) hiring a foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

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