What are Employment Based Immigration Visas?

Each fiscal year, there are about 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas made available to individuals who are qualified under the provisions of U.S. immigration law. These visas are divided into five preference categories. Continue reading below to learn more.

Employment First Preference (E1): Priority Worker and Persons of Extraordinary Ability

There are three sub-groups within this category, including:

  • Persons with extraordinary ability. This is within the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. These applicants must have extensive documentation showing national or international acclaim in their field. 
  • Outstanding professors and researchers. These individuals must have at least three years experience in teaching or research and must be internationally recognized. Applicants must be coming to the U.S. to pursue tenure, tenure track teaching, or a comparable research position at a university or institution of higher education.
  • Multinational managers or executives. These individuals must have been employed for at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer. Their employment must have been in managerial or executive capacity.

Employment Second Preference (E2): Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability

This applicant must generally have a labor certification approved by the Department of Labor and have a job offer in place. The U.S. employer must file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker on their behalf. The two subgroups of these categories are as follows:

  • Professionals holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years progressive experience in the profession
  • Persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business

Employment Third Preference (E3): Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers

This applicant must have an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker filed by the prospective employer. They are required to have labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. The subgroups of this category are:

  • Skilled workers are persons who have jobs that require a minimum of 2 years training or work experience that are not temporary or seasonal
  • Professionals that are members of the professions whose jobs require at least a baccalaureate degree from a U.S. university or college or its foreign equivalent degree
  • Unskilled workers are persons capable of filing positions that require less than two years training or experience that are not temporary or seasonal

Employment Fourth Preference (E4): Certain Special Immigrants

These applicants must be a beneficiary of an approved Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, with the exception of Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad. Labor certification is not required. The subgroups include:

  • Broadcasters in the U.S. employed by the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or a grantee or such organization
  • Ministers of religion
  • Certain employees or former employees of the U.S. Government abroad
  • Certain former employees of the Panama Canal or Canal Zone Government, the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone, or the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government on April 1, 1979
  • Iraqi and Afghan Interpreters/translators who worked directly with the U.S. armed forces or under Chief of Mission authority for at least 12 months and meet requirements
  • Iraqi and Afghan nationals who provided faithful and valuable service while employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government for at least one year on or after March 20, 2003 and before September 30, 2013, or in Afghanistan for not less than one year after October 7, 2001
  • Certain foreign medical graduates
  • Certain retired international organization employees
  • Certain unmarried sons and daughters of international organization employees
  • Certain surviving spouses of deceased international organization employees
  • Special immigrant juveniles
  • Persons recruited outside the U.S. who have served or are enlisted to serve in the U.S. armed forces
  • Certain retired NATO-6 civilians
  • Certain unmarried sons and daughters of NATO-6 civilians
  • Certain surviving spouses of deceased NATO-6 civilian employees
  • Persons who are beneficiaries of petitions or labor certification applications filed before September 11, 2001 if the petition was rendered void due to the terrorist act on this day
  • Certain religious workers

Employment Fifth Preference (E5): Immigrant Investors

These visa categories are for capital investment by foreign investors in new commercial enterprises in the U.S. which provide job creation. A new rule published by the Department of Homeland Security modernized the rule in 2019 by doing the following:

  • Providing priority date retention to certain EB-5 investors
  • Increasing the required minimum investment amounts to account for inflation
  • Reforming certain targeted employment area designations
  • Clarifying USCIS procedures for the removal of conditions on permanent residence
  • Making other technical and conforming revisions

Contact our Firm

The Law Offices of Cheryl R. David practices immigration law throughout NYC. Immigration is a sensitive issue, which is why you should consider a compassionate, experienced, and aggressive immigration attorney who will guide you every step of the way. If you have questions about your particular matters regarding immigration please do not hesitate to contact our office to discuss your circumstances and options.