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Immigration Through Employment

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As with almost any area of law, employment-based immigration is a very complicated area. So I will only generally summarize this area. Note, this post does not discuss non-immigrant visas (for temporary work or training).

For those who qualify, an employment-based immigration might be the way to a green card. For this and other reasons, I thoroughly examine my clients about all aspects of their lives, such as their education and schooling, even if they assume they were only eligible for another form relief.

Like family-based visas (for non-immediate relatives), there is an employment-based preference system (please see current visa bulletins). Each category under this system has its own allotment. These are the EB 1 through 5. “C” means current.

Employment- BasedAll Chargeability Areas Except Those ListedChina – mainland bornINDIAMEXICOPHILIPPINES
Other Workers01OCT1201OCT1201OCT0301OCT1201NOV07
Certain Religious WorkersCCCCC
Regional Centers
and Pilot Programs
 *May 2014 Visa Bulletin


EB1, or Priority worker, apply to 1) people at the very top of their professions (or with “extraordinary ability”), 2) outstanding professors and researchers; and 3) executives and managers of multi-national companies. “Extraordinary” is a very, very high standard, and usually involve international-recognition (or close to it). A professor or researcher in this category usually needs be very published and recognized, plus 3 years of teaching or researching experience. Also, EB1 does not need labor certification described below. Generally speaking, there are more allotment than there are applicants in this category. Most likely because there are so few people that actually qualify this category. Therefore on the employment preference system, this category is “current”.

EB2, or Professionals and Exceptional Ability Immigrants, are 1) Professionals with Advanced Degrees and 1) Persons of Exceptional Ability. The intending immigrant must have a job offer in the U.S. and must obtain labor certification (a foreign worker must prove that their occupation is not already saturated by U.S. Workers).  Labor certification requires stringent requirements, including adhering to recruitment process (subject to potential audit by Department of Labor) and prevailing wage requirements. The exception to the labor certification and job offer requirements is if one can show “national interest”. “Exceptional” ability is different and a lower standard from “extraordinary” ability described above in EB1. Currently, this category is “current” except for immigrants from China and India.

EB3 are for 1) Professionals with Bachelor’s degrees 2) Skilled Workers and 3) Unskilled Workers. An employer must also sponsor and apply for people in this category. Most applicants must also supply labor certification (except for nurses and physical therapists). Currently, all countries under this category are backlogged, with India being the most backlogged.

EB4, or Special Immigrant Religious Workers, are for ordained or authorized ministers; religious professionals; and religious vocational and occupational workers.  Currently, this category is current for all countries.

EB5, or commonly referred to as “Investor Visa”, is the most complicated of the 5 (and deserves it’s own post later). Generally speaking, the intention behind this category is to help create new jobs in the U.S.  In general, the main requirements are 1) create 10 full-time jobs and 2) investment of one million dollars or $500,000 in designated high unemployment areas.

Also, as in my other post about family-based immigration, the immigrant must also not be inadmissible for some other reason (or must apply for a waiver, if able to).

About Charlotte Lin

Charlotte is a trusted lawyer by day, and legal ninja by night. In her spare time she enjoys slashing tickets with nunchucks.