Permanent Workers Overview

Approximately 140,000 immigrant visas are available each fiscal year for aliens (and their spouses and children) who seek to immigrate based on their job skills. If you have the right combination of skills, education, and/or work experience and are otherwise eligible, you may be able to live permanently in the United States. There are five employment-based immigrant visa categories (listed below).

Labor Certification

Some immigrant visa preferences require you to already have a job offer from a U.S. employer. This employer will be considered your sponsor. For some visa categories, before the U.S. employer can submit an immigration petition to USCIS, the employer must obtain an approved labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL labor certification verifies the following:

·         There are insufficient available, qualified, and willing U.S. workers to fill the position being offered at the prevailing wage

·         Hiring a foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers

For more information see Labor Certification article.

Permanent Worker Visa Preference Categories

·     First Preference EB-1: This preference is reserved for persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors or    researchers; and multinational executives and managers. Labor certification is not required.

·      Second Preference EB-2: This preference is reserved for persons who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or for persons with exceptional ability in  the arts, sciences, or business. Labor certification is required unless applicant qualifies for a national interest waiver.

·         Third Preference EB-3: This preference is reserved for professionals, skilled workers, and other workers. Labor certification is required.

·      Fourth Preference EB-4: This preference is reserved for “special immigrants,” which includes certain religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, retired employees of international organizations, alien minors who are wards of courts in the United States, and other classes of aliens. Labor certification is not required.

·         Fifth Preference EB-5: This preference is reserved for business investors who invest $1 million or $500,000 (if the investment is made in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers. Labor certification is not required.

For more information see individual Preference Category articles.