Every year approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are made available to qualified applicants under the provisions of U.S. immigration law. These visas are divided into five preference categories:
E-1: Priority Workers: Persons with Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding Professors and Researchers, Multinational Managers or Executives
E-2: Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability (An E-2 applicant must generally have a labor certification approved by the Department of Labor, see below.)
E-3: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)
E-4: Certain Special Immigrants, includes broadcasters in the U.S., ministers of religion, former employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government, Iraqi and Afghan translators and interpreters, certain retired NATO-6 civilians, and more.
E-5: Immigrant Investors
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U.S. employers must check to make sure all employees, regardless of citizenship or national origin, are allowed to work in the United States. individuals who are not citizens or permanent residents may need to apply for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) to prove they may work in the United States. USCIS issues Employment Authorization Documents (EAD) in the following categories:
- EAD: This document proves you are allowed to work in the United States
- Renewal EAD: You cannot file for a renewal EAD more than 120 days before your original EAD expires.
- Replacement EAD: This document replaces a lost, stolen, or mutilated EAD. A replacement EAD also replaces an EAD that was issued with incorrect information, such as a misspelled name.
PERM | Labor Certifications
To be considered for an immigrant visa under some of the employment-based categories below, the applicant’s prospective employer or agent must first obtain a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor. In general, the Department of Labor (DOL) works to ensure that the admission of foreign workers to work in the U.S. will not adversely affect the job opportunities, wages and working conditions of U.S. workers. Once a permanent labor certification application has been approved by the DOL, the employer will need to seek the immigration authorization from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The H1-B visa allows a foreign national to enter the United States lawfully to temporarily live and work. Spouses and children of H1-B holders may join them; however, spouses will not be allowed to work. The visa is limited to 3 years and may be extended to 6 years. U.S. businesses use the H-1B program to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialized fields, including but not limited to: scientists, engineers, or computer programmers.
The EB-2 immigrant visa category for professionals with advanced degrees and individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business generally requires a job offer and a labor certification issued by the Department of Labor (DOL). The labor certification process exists to protect U.S. workers and the U.S. labor market by ensuring that foreign workers seeking immigrant visa classifications are not displacing qualified U.S. workers.
EB-5 Immigrant Investor
The Immigrant Investor Program, also known as “EB-5,” was created by Congress in 1990 to stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors. Under a pilot immigration program first enacted in 1992 and regularly reauthorized since, certain EB-5 visas also are set aside for investors based on proposals for promoting economic growth.
All EB-5 investors must invest in a new commercial enterprise. The required investment amount is $1,000,000, or at least $500,000 in a targeted employment area (high unemployment or rural area). In return . Up to 10,000 visas may be authorized each fiscal year for eligible entrepreneurs.
USCIS may grant conditional permanent residence to the individual
Green Card Through Investment
Entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) who make an investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and who plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified United States workers, are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence).
L Intra-Company Transferee Visa
The L-1A nonimmigrant classification enables a U.S. employer to transfer an executive or manager from one of its affiliated foreign offices to one of its offices in the United States. This classification also enables a foreign company which does not yet have an affiliated U.S. office to send an executive or manager to the United States with the purpose of establishing one. The family members, spouses and children under the age of 21 of the L-1A immigrant may accompany the employee. The spouses can apply for work authorization and can also work lawfully in the United States.
To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must:
- Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
- Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.
To qualify, the named employee must also:
- Generally have been working for a qualifying organization abroad for one continuous year within the three years immediately preceding his or her admission to the United States; and
- Be seeking to enter the United States to provide service in an executive or managerial capacity for a branch of the same employer or one of its qualifying organizations.
For foreign employers seeking to send an employee to the United States as an executive or manager to establish a new office, the employer must also show that:
- The employer has secured sufficient physical premises to house the new office;
- The employee has been employed as an executive or manager for one continuous year in the three years preceding the filing of the petition; and
- The intended U.S. office will support an executive or managerial position within one year of the approval of the petition.