Each year, hundreds of thousands of people apply for employment-based immigrant visas in the United States with the hope of achieving the American dream. However, as with all immigration matters, the process can be confusing. Numbers are limited, and there are often questions about which category of visa a worker should apply for. That’s why we’ve created this quick guide to employment-based immigration to give a quick glimpse into a complicated process.
Types of Employment-Based Immigrant Visas
The United States has several classifications for those looking to obtain an employment visa. All employment visas fall into four categories that get different preferences based on skill. Around 140,000 total employment-based visas are issued each fiscal year, which falls between October 1st and September 30th. Because the number is limited, preference is given to those with exceptional skills or abilities that would prove beneficial to the United States.
EB-1 – Priority Workers
Employees in this classification get high priority due to their high level of skills. Classified as EB-1, these workers include those who have made extraordinary contributions in their field (science, athletics, education, etc.), outstanding researchers and professors, or multinational business executives. First preference is given to workers in the EB-1 category, they receive over 35% of employment-based visas for each year.
EB-2 – Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Persons with Exceptional Ability
The second tier on the preference list includes EB-2 workers. To attain an EB-2 visa, one must possess exceptional skills that would benefit the economy, educational interests, or culture of the United States. That can include workers with abilities in science, art, or education that exceed the norm. Less than 30% of all employment-based visas go to EB-2 workers.
EB-3 – Professional or Skilled Workers
Third preference goes to professionals or skilled workers, accounting for under 30% of all worldwide employment-based immigration visas. Employees in this category must have experience performing skilled or unskilled labor in areas which can’t be filled by U.S. workers. That can include specialized professions that have no qualified domestic workers.
EB-4 – Special Immigrants
Lastly, special immigrants in this category don’t require labor certification, but must meet other qualifications. Employees who are considered special immigrants include religious workers, certain physicians, employees of the Panama Canal, and others. Special immigrants get fourth preference overall for employment-based immigration visas, receiving just over 7% of all total employment-based visas.
How Do You Get an Employment Visa in the United States?
The first step to obtaining an employment visa is to file for labor certification approval with the Department of Labor. Next, the employer must file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (I-40) Form with the exception of workers in the EB-1 category. The petition is essentially a job offer, proving to the government that the employer intends to hire that worker on arrival. Wait times vary by priority level and waiting list, although some workers are permitted to enter immediately depending on circumstances. Then, the employee or employer must pay fees, provide documentation, and potentially attend an interview before arriving in the United States.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Obtain an Employment-Based Immigrant Visa?
Obtaining a visa requires filling out forms correctly and precisely. You might also have other questions regarding which category a worker falls under. In many cases, an immigration lawyer can provide you with assistance in obtaining an employment visa for yourself or an employee.
If you want expert advice in all areas of immigration, the team at CoxEsq., PC is here to help. We have experience with assisting clients around the world with a variety of immigration services. Schedule a consultation today to learn more about how we can assist you with securing an employment visa.