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Which Employment Visa is Right for You

Countless immigrants wish to enter the U.S. every year to pursue their careers and earn a living for themselves and their families. Though this may seem as straightforward as applying for a visa and entering the country, the process is often far more complex and overwhelming than anticipated. Below, our Sherman OaksĀ immigration team outlines each type of employment visa and how to obtain one.

Priority Workers: EB-1 Visas

EB-1 visas are available to individuals with extraordinary abilities, professors and researchers, or multinational executives/managers, otherwise known as priority workers. While there is not a need for labor certification, there are certain standards that need to be met depending on one’s occupation.

Executives & Managers

These applicants must have held a managerial or executive position at an international corporation for at least one year. This period also must immediately precede the three years prior to submitting the application for this visa.

The applicant’s employment must have been with the same employer, an affiliate, or subsidiary of their original employer, or an employer in the United States.

Professors & Researchers

These individuals must also hold international recognition for their achievements, but they must be held in a particular field of academics. They also need at least three years of teaching or research experience and must be entering the United States to pursue tenure, a tenure track, or a similar research position at an institution of higher learning.

This subcategory does, however, require an offer of employment from a U.S. university, an institution of higher education, or by a private employer.

Individuals with Extraordinary Ability

These are individuals with extraordinary skills in fields such as the sciences, fine arts, business, or athletics. These applicants must hold achievements that have been nationally or internationally recognized through extensive documentation in order to qualify for this visa.

Unlike other visas, there is no need for an offer of employment, but applicants must prove they are entering the United States to pursue work within their occupation.

EB-1 visas are limited to 40,000 given out each year, with excess applications given first priority if other categories fall below their quotas.

Advanced Degree: EB-2 Visas

These visas are given to individuals who hold advanced degrees or hold exceptional ability in sciences, arts, or business. One additional benefit of this visa is the opportunity for its recipients to gain a green card faster than other applicants due to the small number of people able to qualify for it.

Individuals with Advanced Degrees

Advanced degrees, or their equivalents, are bachelor’s degrees with an additional five years of continuous work experience in their given field.

Adequate proof documents for this visa include:

  • Official academic records confirming a U.S. advanced degree or foreign equivalent
  • An official academic record showing a U.S. bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent, and letters from a current or former employer proving at least five years of work experience after earning the degree

Individuals with Exceptional Abilities

Individuals applying under this category must be able to prove exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, which stand to benefit:

  • The U.S. economy
  • Cultural or educational interests, or
  • Welfare in the future

The definition of exceptional ability, in this case, means “a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.”

40,000 EB-2 visas are available each fiscal year, along with any extra EB-1 applications. This has the potential to be a strategic choice if the prerequisites are met, as it typically has been in less demand than other visas.

Professionals, Skilled Workers, & Unskilled Workers: EB-3 Visas

These visas are given to professionals, skilled workers, & unskilled Workers. Applicants are required to obtain a permanent, full-time job offer from a U.S. employer. The beginning of the application process rests on the employer by obtaining an approved labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, confirming the employer’s recruitment of American workers for the position, but was unable to find a qualified or willing applicant.

Labor certification is required for each of the three EB-3 applicant subcategories. These workers include:

  • Professional workers - architects, lawyers, physicians, engineers, and teachers holding university degrees no higher than a bachelor’s degree and less than five years of work experience.
  • Skilled workers - workers in occupations that do not normally need a college degree, but require at least two years of experience or training. This includes computer and technical workers, stonemasons, and journalists.
  • Unskilled workers - This subcategory covers any job not mentioned above. This includes housekeepers, nannies, farmers, garden workers, and custodial workers.

40,000 visas are also designated to EB-3 applicants every year, with 10,000 visas set aside solely for unskilled workers. Any unused visas leftover from the EB-1 or EB-2 quotas can also be used by outstanding EB-3 applicants.

Special Immigrants: EB-4 Visas

Individuals applying for this visa are categorized as “special immigrants” who may be eligible for a Green Card based on specific visa categories that are listed in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Here is a brief list of eligible applicants:

  • Religious workers
  • Physicians
  • Broadcasters
  • Panama Canal Company Employees, Canal Zone Government Employees, or U.S. Government in the Canal Zone Employees
  • Translators who have worked with United States armed forces
  • Afghanistan nationals who worked for or on behalf of the U.S. government or the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan

Immigrant Investors: EB-5 Visas

The final category of employment visas, EB-5 visas, are given to foreign investors. They allow these applicants to obtain permanent residency when they enter the U.S. upon making a specified minimum investment into the economy through the creation of a business. These individuals must also have a direct role in the company, but they are not required to run it or own it.

The specific amount of the minimum investment has fluctuated in past years, but is usually between $900,000 to $1.8 million. The final requirement to obtain this visa is proof that it will create at least ten full-time permanent jobs for American workers.

There are only 10,000 visas available to EB-5 applicants every year, though this quota has never actually been met. There are certain countries from which large amounts of individuals have applied, such as China, India, and Vietnam, for which these countries have been created a waitlist.

Do You Need Help With Your Employment Visa?

From the application process to finally entering the country, we know how complex gaining a visa can be. Our team can you from the start of the application process to minimizing delays and get you the visa you need.

If you would like to learn more about how we may be able to help you obtain an employment visa, don’t hesitate to contact us today through our online contact form, or give us a call at (818) 600-6322 today!