When people hear about visas to enter the United States, tourist visas may come to mind. However, there are other nonimmigrant and immigrant visas that the United States issues, with employment-based (EB) visas being a vital component to the economy. Not all employment-based visas are the same, though.
EB visa categories for Permanent Residence (Green Cards)
There are five separate categories of EB visas, with the first two categories (EB-1 & EB-2) dealing with immigrants who have “exceptional abilities.” Someone with an advanced degree in the sciences who understands high-end computer programming could be eligible for first or second preference EB visas. Researchers, as well as positions that will be in the national interest of the US, are also included in EB-2 National Interest Waiver (NIW) cases.
The third preference (EB-3) involves a somewhat general category. Applicants could be people with special skills, and these workers may or may not have a degree. The visa also applies to those who perform “unskilled” work, as demand for their services may exist. Certain EB-2 and all EB-3 visas will first require an approved Labor Certification (LCA) under the PERM program to go forward.
The fourth preference (EB-4) applies to certain professions, such as broadcasters and religious workers. The fifth preference (EB-5) involves investing, meaning the applicant must invest substantial money in a business venture and commit to creating and hiring at least 10 permanent jobs for U.S. workers.
Applying for the visas
Anyone interested in being approved for an EB visa must provide the necessary materials for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to review. The approval of EB visas may involve providing the required proof of education and experience.
However, those interested in receiving an EB visa cannot apply directly. The prospective employer must file the necessary paperwork on Form I-140. There could be a requirement to procure a Permanent Labor Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. Of course, there will be a filing fee associated with an EB visa petition.