Many people become permanent residents through employment or an offer of employment. One of the most common ways is through labor certification. This process involves a U.S. employer sponsoring for an individual for residency by offering a job. For the labor certification to be issued, the Department of Labor must determine that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to fill the particular job and that employment of the individual will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of others similarly employed. Workers who have an extraordinary ability, are outstanding professors or researchers, and managers and executives subject to transfer to the U.S. are not required to obtain labor certification. They are admitted based on a preference system.
First Preference: Priority Workers
Individuals who fall under this category do not need to obtain labor certification. Priority workers are:
• Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. These individuals must have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation. They do not have to have a specific job offer, but must be seeking to enter the U.S. to continue working in the area of extraordinary ability.
• Outstanding professors and researchers recognized internationally. Individuals must have at least 3 years of experience in academic teaching or research. They must be coming to the U.S. to pursue a tenured or comparable position at a university or other institution of higher education, or to conduct research under certain restrictions.
• Multinational managers or executives. These individuals must have been employed for at least 1 of 3 preceding years by the overseas affiliate or subsidiary of the U.S. employer. They must be seeking to enter the U.S. to continue rendering services to the same employer or to a subsidiary or affiliate thereof in a managerial or executive capacity.
Second Preference: Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability
Individuals in this category must generally have a labor certification and a job offer, unless the job offer and labor certification are waived in the national interest for a person of exceptional ability. There are 2 groups in this category:
• Professionals holding an advanced degree or a baccalaureate degree and at least 5 years progressive experience in the profession. If a doctoral degree is customarily required by the specialty, the individual must have an actual U.S. doctorate or foreign equivalent.
• Persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability is a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in these fields.
Third Preference: Professionals, Skilled workers, and Unskilled Workers
Individuals must generally have a labor certification and a job offer. This category receives approximately 28% of the yearly worldwide limit of employment based visas plus any unused visas from the first and second categories. There are 3 groups in this category:
• Professionals are members of professions whose jobs require a bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent and do not qualify for the second preference
• Skilled workers fill positions that require a minimum of 2 years of training or work experience and perform work that is not temporary or seasonal for which there is a shortage of qualified U.S. workers
• Unskilled workers are capable of filling positions that require less than 2 years training or experience and perform work that is not temporary or seasonal for which there is a shortage of qualified U.S. workers
Fourth Preference: Special Immigrants
This category includes a number of specifically defined individuals. Labor certification is not required for this category. There are many groups, including but not limited to:
• Returning residents
• Persons applying for reacquisition of citizenship
• Religious workers
• Employees of the U.S. government abroad
• Certain foreign medical graduates
• Panama Canal Treaty employees
• Certain non-immigrant visa holders
• Immigrants who are dependents of a U.S. juvenile court
• Those who served honorably in the U.S. armed forces
• Iraqi who assisted the U.S. government
• Afghan who assisted the U.S. government
Contact us for more information on this category.
Fifth Preference: Investors
This category is for capital investment by foreign investors in new commercial enterprises in the U.S. which will benefit the U.S. economy and within 2 years create full-time employment for no less than 10 individuals. The following minimum qualifying capital must be invested:
• $1,000,000; or
• $500,000 in a targeted employment area
Up to 10,000 visas may be issued in this category each year.
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This information is provided by the USCIS. For more information about the Immigration Process visit the USCIS website.