U.S immigrant visas have different categories based on the intent of immigration. These categories are:
- Family-Based Immigrant Visas for those who want to reunite with close family members;
- Employment-Based Immigrant Visas for those who have found jobs in the U.S;
- Diversity Visas for those with low rates of immigration to the U.S;
- Returning Resident Visas for those who have once held a U.S immigrant visa and want to return to the country again.
This article will go through the relevant information for Employment Based Immigrant Visas.
What Are Employment Based Immigrant Visas?
Employment based immigration is for people from foreign countries who have found jobs in the U.S. The employers sponsor the employee to stay in the U.S and work in their company.
With an immigrant work visa, you can work without an Employment Authorization Document (EAD). The EAD is only for those who are working in the U.S with non-immigrant work visas such as the H-1B visa or similar ones.
These types of visas allow you to live in the U.S and be a Legal Permanent Resident (LPR). You can enroll in school, own property, and get a driver’s license. You can also travel in and out of the U.S for short periods of time.
Since immigrant work visas are so attractive, many people want to get them. But the U.S government has limited them to 140,000 visas per year. This means that among all the types of employment visas, only 140,000 are available each year. Because of this, the waiting time to get these types of visas can be quite long. After U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) gives 140,000 visas, they process others in the next years.
What Are the Types of Immigrant Work Visas?
Since there are different jobs, there are also different types of work visas. The types of these visas are as follows:
EB-1 Visa for First Priority Workers
The EB-1 visas are for these groups of people:
- Outstanding professors and researchers
- People with extraordinary abilities in science, art, athletics, business or education
- Executive managers who have worked at a foreign branch of a U.S company for the past 3 years
EB-2 Visa for Second Priority Workers
The EB-2 type of visa is for:
- professionals with advanced degrees, and
- those who have extraordinary abilities in art, science, or business.
EB-3 Visa for Third Priority Workers
The EB-3 visa is for the following people:
- Skilled workers with more than 2 years of experience
- Professionals with a higher education degree
- Unskilled workers with less than 2 years of experience
The third group gets EW-3 visas, which is a subcategory of the EB-3 visa for the unskilled workers.
EB-4 Visa for Fourth Priority Workers
The EB-4 visa includes different occupations such as:
- those who work in religious organizations;
- in the public or governmental sector, or
- in international organizations.
EB-5 Visa for Fifth Priority Workers
This visa is for those who invest in the U.S economy. The investments must be between $500K to $1 million. They must create jobs and increase economic development. The EB-5 visa has four subcategories such as:
- C-5 visa for investors who create jobs outside of target areas
- T-5 visa for investors who create jobs in targeted rural or high unemployment areas
- R-5 visa for investors who participate in an Investor Pilot Program not in a target area
- I-5 visa for investors who participate in an Investor Pilot Program in a targeted area
The first 3 visas (EB-1, EB-2, and EB-3) each get 28.6% of the 140,000 yearly employment visas. This means that around 40,000 people get each visa every year. The EB-4 and EB-5 visas get 7.1% each of the total, or around 10,000 per type of visa.
What are the Requirements of Employment Visas?
Each of the five types of visas has different requirements. If you do not fill one of the requirements for the visa you are applying, you might end up getting rejected. This is because there is so much competition that it is very difficult to get the visa.
The most difficult requirements to meet are those for the EB-1 visa. Since the visa is for people with extraordinary abilities, some of the requirements include:
- Evidence that you have received international or national prizes/awards for your achievement;
- Evidence that you have published papers or contributed with high quality research recognized by the media;
- Evidence that you have evaluated other people’s work as an individual or in a panel;
- Evidence that you wrote articles that were published in trade journals or the media, etc.
There are many other requirements, which you can find in the EB-1 Visa article.
To qualify for the EB-2 visa you must prove that:
- You have an advanced educational degree (Bachelor’s Degree, Master’s Degree, etc.);
- You have at least 5 years of experience in your field of study after your Bachelor’s Degree;
- You have won awards, diplomas, or certificates in your field;
- You have licenses or certifications that show you have excelled in your field, etc.
This visa also has more requirements which you can find in the EB-2 Visa article.
For the EB-3 and EB-4 visas, the requirements are as follows:
- You must have a full time job offer from a U.S employer;
- You must meet the qualifications for the job based on your education and experience.
To sponsor you for the EB-3 and EB-4 visas, the employer must also meet these requirements:
- The employer must prove that they could not find a U.S worker for that position;
- The employer must be financially stable to sponsor the worker and pay the salary.
Finally, the requirements for the EB-5 visa are:
- Invest in a company established on or before November 29th, 1990;
- Increase the company net worth by 40% or the number of employees by at least 10 people in 2 years;
- Invest between $500K and $1M in the company.
How to Apply for Employment Based immigrant Visas?
All five categories of the employment based visas have a similar application procedure. This includes both the employer and the employee. Except in the case of the investor visa (EB-5), the application process must start from the employer. The steps to apply are as follows.
Step 1: Get the labor certification
To hire a foreign worker, U.S employers must show that they could not find a suitable U.S worker for the job. That is why they must file Form ETA750 to the Department of Labor. The form also proves that they will pay the foreign worker a non-discriminating salary. This step is not required for the EB-5 visa.
Step 2: File the petition
After getting the labor certification, the employer files the petition. This is Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker to USCIS. The investor for EB-5 files Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur instead. The petition informs USCIS that the employer wants to sponsor that specific employee and that they fulfill the criteria for the visa.
USCIS processes the petition and informs the employer and employee of the decision. If approved, the National Visa Center (NVC) will take over the case. They will assign a case number and invoice ID number.
When it is your turn for processing, the NVC sends a package with instructions. You as the employee must follow the instructions to apply.
Step 3: File Form DS-260 or 261
Depending on the instructions, you must file either Form DS-260 or DS-261. These are the official visa application forms for immigrants.
Step 4: Complete medical examination and vaccination
Based on the NVC package, you will have instructions on the types of medical exams you must do. You must complete these at a licensed doctor or hospital and keep the records.
Step 5: Compile the supporting documents file
Depending on the type of visa you are applying, you must attach supporting documents. They show that you meet the criteria for the visa. Examples of documents you should submit are:
- Your passport which must be valid for more than 6 months after you leave for the U.S;
- Your employment offer from the U.S employer;
- The approved labor certification;
- The approved petition;
- Your DS-260/261 confirmation page;
- Your signed medical and vaccine documents;
- Two photographs meeting the Photo Requirements;
- Academic achievements (diplomas and certificates), etc.
Depending on the case and the type of visa, the NVC might ask for other supporting documents.
Step 6: Attend visa interview
After processing, you will have the visa interview. The interview is at the U.S Embassy where you applied. The interviewer will ask you questions about your background and application. At the end, they will make a decision about your case.
Step 7: Receive NVC package and travel to the U.S
If you get the visa, the NVC will send you a package for your travel. You must not open this package, but take it with you when you travel to the U.S. The immigration officer at the U.S port of entry will open the package and decide whether to let you enter or not.
What Are the Employment Based Immigrant Visa Fees?
There are various fees that the employer or employee must pay to apply for the visas. These fees are as follows:
- DOL Labor Certification fee (employer)
- USCIS Form I-140 petition filing fee (employer) – $700
- USCIS Form I-526 petition filing fee (for EB-5) – $3,675
- Form DS-260/261 processing fee (employee) – $230
- Medical examination fees (employee)
- Fees to get supporting documents (employee)
- Any translation fees from foreign language to English (employee)
How Long is the Immigrant Work Visa Processing Time?
Since there are yearly limits to the number of employment visas, the processing times are also long. They can range from a few months to 3 or more years of waiting for the priority dates to become current. This all depends on how many people have applied before you.