Employment-Based (E) Visas
Immigration and Nationality Act provides for approximately 140,000
employment-based immigrant visas which are divided into five preference
categories. To be considered for an immigrant visa under some of the
employment-based categories below, the applicant’s prospective employer or
agent must first obtain a Labor Certification approval
from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Once approval is received (if required), the employer then
files an I-140 Immigrant Petition for
Alien Worker with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in the
Department of Homeland Security (USCIS). (NOTE: Persons with extraordinary abilities in the Employment
First preference category are able to file their own petitions.)
Immigration requirements can also be found on the Department of State’s website
and on the USCIS Permanent Workers webpage.
Employment First Preference (E1): Priority Workers
Most Priority Workers must have an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker, normally filed by the employer in the U.S. with USCIS. Labor certification is not
required for any of the Priority Worker subgroups. There are three subgroups within this category:
- People of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Applicants must have extensive documentation showing national or international acclaim and recognition in their field of expertise. They do not have to have a specific job offer as long as they are
entering the U.S. to continue work in the fields in which they have
extraordinary ability, and they can file their own petition with the DHS.
- Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years of experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally. Applicants in this
category must be coming to the U.S. to pursue tenure, tenure track teaching, or
a comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher
education. No labor certification is required for this classification, but the prospective employer must provide a job offer and file a petition with USCIS.
- Multinational executives and managers who have already been employed overseas by a U.S. company’s affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch for at least one of the three preceding years. The applicant’s
employment outside of the U.S. must have been in a managerial or executive
capacity, and the applicant must be coming to work in a managerial or executive
capacity. No labor certification is required, but the prospective employer must provide a job offer and file a petition with USCIS.
Employment Second Preference (E2): Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability
All applicants must have a labor certification, or establish that they qualify for one of the shortage occupations. A job offer is required and the U.S. employer must file an I-140 petition on behalf of the applicant. There are two subgroups within this category:
- 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. Exceptional ability
means having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily
encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.
Employment Third Preference (E3): Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)
All applicants require an approved Form I-140 petition filed by the prospective employer. All require a labor certification or evidence that they qualify for one of the shortage occupations. There are three subgroups within this category:
- Skilled workers are persons whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years
training or work experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
- Professionals are members of the professions whose jobs require at
least a baccalaureate degree from a U.S. university or college or its foreign
- Unskilled workers (Other workers) are persons capable of filling positions that require
less than two years training or experience that are not of a temporary or seasonal nature.
Employment Fourth Preference (E4): Certain Special Immigrants
Special E4 Immigrants must be the beneficiary of an approved I-360, Petition for Special Immigrant, except overseas employees of the U.S. Government who must use Form DS-1884. Labor certification is not required for any of the Certain Special Immigrants subgroups. There are many subgroups within this category. Please see the Department of State’s website for additional information.
Employment Fifth Preference (E5): Immigrant Investors
Immigrant Investor visa categories are for capital
investment by foreign investors in new commercial enterprises in the United
States which provide job creation. Please see Immigrant
Investor Visas to
learn more about this employment-based category.