Employment-Based Immigration


Many people want to acquire permanent residency status in the U.S. because permanent residents enjoy a variety of rights and privileges. One of the most widely-used methods to obtain permanent residency in U.S. is the Employment-Based immigration category. You are eligible to apply for permanent residency under this category if:

  • You have an opportunity to work permanently in the U.S.
  • You have an employer in the U.S. who wants to sponsor you for lawful permanent residency (LPR) in the U.S.

The general procedure to apply for an Employment-Based Visa is:

  1. Your employer in the U.S. must first determine if you are eligible for lawful permanent residency (LPR) according to the norms set by United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  2. In most cases, your employer must submit a completed labor certification request (Form ETA-750) for you, to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training Administration. The DOL will either grant or deny the certification request.

Note : Qualified alien physicians who will practice medicine in an area certified as ‘underserved’ by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services do not need a Labor Certification.

  1. Once the Labor Certification is granted, your employer will submit an immigrant visa petition (Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker) at a USCIS service center on your behalf. USCIS must approve the petition. The employer acts as the sponsor (or petitioner) for you (the beneficiary).
  2. Once the petition is approved, the Department of State (DOS) gives you an Immigrant Visa Number (even if you are already in the U.S.), indicating that an immigrant visa will be assigned to you soon. You can check on the status of your visa number in the Visa Bulletin published by the DOS.
  3. After you get your visa number:
    • If you are already residing in the U.S., you must apply for a change to Permanent Resident status.
    • If are outside the U.S., you will be notified and must complete the process at your local U.S. Consulate office.

There are five categories for employment-based immigration. Please click on the category that best suits you on the menu to the side for more details regarding eligibility and procedures.

The EB-1 category is open to:

  • Individuals with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, business or athletics.
  • Outstanding professors or researchers.
  • Managers and executives soon to be transferred to the United States.

Individuals with Extraordinary Ability

USCIS defines foreign nationals with extraordinary skills as “individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation.” This category is for people who have received the Nobel Prize or similar awards. However, as there are very few people who receive these awards, there are other ways of proving your own extraordinary ability.

To apply under this category you must submit at least three of the following requirements as documentary evidence along with your application to USCIS:

  1. Receipt/ Proof of lesser recognized prizes or awards for excellence.
  2. Membership in associations in your area, which demand outstanding achievement of their members.
  3. Articles published about you in major publications and other media.
  4. Proof that you have judged others’ works as an individual or on a panel.
  5. Proof that you have made original contributions to your field.
  6. Proof that you have published articles about your field in major publications and other media.
  7. Proof that your work has been showcased or displayed in exhibitions.
  8. Proof that you hold a leading or critical role in a distinguished organization.
  9. Proof that you receive high payments for your work in relation to your peers.
  10. Proof of commercial success in the performing arts.

Outstanding Professors and Researchers (E12 Immigrants)
In order to be classified as an outstanding professor or researcher, you:

  • Should be internationally recognized in your field.
  • Should have at least three years experience in research or teaching in your field.
  • Should have a job offer from an accredited university/ institution for higher education to work in a tenure-track teaching/comparable research position in your field.
  • Your job offer can also be for a permanent research position with a private institution, provided the department/division/ institute has employed at least three full-time researchers and has documented accomplishments in your academic field.

To apply under this category, you must submit any two of the following documents as evidence along with your application to USCIS:

  1. Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement.
  2. Membership in associations in your area, which demand outstanding achievement from their members.
  3. Articles about you that have appeared in major publications.
  4. Proof that you, have judged work of others in the same area or allied academic field, either as an individual or on a panel.
  5. Proof that you have made original scholarly contributions to your field.
  6. Proof that articles written by you have been published in major publications
  7. Proof that you have authored books on a subject in your area of expertise.

For Managers and Executives (E13 immigrants)

The Eb-1 category allows many multinational companies to transfer their executives or managers to the United States from their parent/affiliate/ subsidiary/branch offices outside the US.
In order to apply under this category, you must have documents to prove that:

  • You have worked as a manager or executive in an overseas office of your U.S. Sponsor for at least one out of the three years preceding the transfer to the United States.
  • You will be joining the same/affiliate/subsidiary/parent company in the U.S. as an executive or manager. You may already be in the U.S. with a non-immigrant visa status (under the L-1A or one of the E visa classifications).
  • The U.S. Company (your sponsor) must show that it has been a parent/subsidiary/affiliate/branch office of the company overseas and conducting business with it for at least one year.

Procedure for Applying for an EB-1 Visa

Individuals with extraordinary ability do not need an employer to file for their visa. You can file for the visa yourself (self-petition). All other EB-1 petitions have to be filed by the employer.
Note: Labor certification is not required for EB-1 petitions.

In order to apply under the EB-1 category, you have to submit a completed application (USCIS Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker) along with all the supporting documents at a USCIS Regional Service Center, which has jurisdiction over the area of your proposed employment.

The EB-2 classification is open to:

    • Individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business.
    • Professionals with advanced degrees.
    • Physicians intending to practice medicine in underserved areas.

Individuals with Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts or Business

USCIS has specified “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts, or business as “a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered” (USCIS)

To apply under this EB-2 category, USCIS regulations recommend that you prove such exceptional ability by submitting at least three of the documents mentioned below as evidence along with your application to USCIS:

    1. Proof of your academic achievements in the area of your exceptional ability, including diplomas, degrees or certificates from colleges, universities or other institutions.
    2. Proof that you have at least ten years of full-time experience in your field.
    3. A license to practice your profession or certification in a particular profession or occupation.
    4. Proof that you have received a worthy salary or remuneration for your exceptional abilities.
    5. Proof that you are a member of professional associations.
    6. Proof that you have received recognition from peers, government officials, or organizations for achievements and significant contributions in your field.

If the above documentation requirements do not apply to your occupation, you can provide other comparable evidence for eligibility.

Your employer must obtain appropriate “Labor Certification (LC)” from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Professionals with Advanced Degrees

USCIS defines an advanced degree as “a professional or academic degree, given by a U.S. institution, beyond that of a baccalaureate” (USCIS). A foreign degree from an overseas institution is acceptable only if USCIS determines that the degree is equivalent to a U.S. degree.

To apply under this EB-2 category, USCIS regulations recommend that you provide documentation to prove that:

    • You have an advanced degree given by a U.S. institution or an equivalent foreign degree; or
    • You have a U.S bachelor’s degree or it’s foreign equivalent along with letters from your current or former employers showing that you have five years of employment experience, involving incremental responsibility in the profession. This is provided the position offered requires the advanced degree.

A petition for an applicant holding an advanced degree can be made when a position requiring an advanced degree becomes available in the U.S. The labor certification must indicate that the available employment position offered requires the advanced degree that you have to perform the job.

Qualified physicians

If you are a qualified physician who will be practicing medicine in an area in the U.S. which has been certified as “underserved” by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), you can apply under the EB-2 category.

To apply under the EB-2 category, you must have the following documents:

    • A job offer in the profession for which you are academically prepared (e.g.: if the profession as a rule requires a doctoral degree, your job offer and the credentials must indicate/reflect it).
    • This category does not require a labor certification.

National Waiver

If you are a worker with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, you may apply to waive the requirement of a job offer and labor certification requirement, if a waiver would be in the national interest.

Section 203(b)(2)(B)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act states that any physician may petition for a national interest waiver to waive the labor certification requirement. While the statutory language says ‘any physician’, the Service notes that DHHS currently limits physicians in designated shortage areas to the practice of family or general medicine, pediatrics, general internal medicine, obstetrics/gynecology, and psychiatry. Unless DHHS establishes shortage areas in other fields of medicine, only the fields of medicine mentioned above are covered by this rule.

The EB-3 category includes:

  • Individuals with at least two years experience as skilled workers.
  • Professionals with a bachelor’s degree.
  • Unskilled laborers who possess less than two years of experience with work for which U.S. workers are not available .

Documents required for an EB-3 visa

To apply under this category, you require the following documentation:

  • A job offer from your U. S. employer which states that he is hiring you for an occupation for which you have received training/education, or a closely related occupation.
  • Labor Certification (Form ETA-750) from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Note: All EB-3 applications must include a Labor Certification and a job offer. There are no exceptions. The type of job and your background determines you being classified as “skilled” “unskilled,” or “professional”.

In addition to the above, to qualify under:

  • The Skilled worker option for the E-3 category, you must show evidence of capability in an occupation that requires at least two years of training or experience in your skill set.
  • The Professionals option for the E-3 category, you must show as evidence a U.S. bachelor’s degree (or its foreign equivalent) as a minimum requirement in order to join the profession. Experience and education cannot be substituted for the degree.
  • The Other workers option for the E-3 category, you must show that you have less than two years of higher education, training, or experience.

Note : Due to a large backlog under this category, you may have to wait many years before being granted a visa.

Procedure to apply for an EB-3 visa

In order to apply through the EB-3 category:

  • Your employer must obtain an approved Labor Certification (Form ETA-750), from the U.S. Department of Labor, which must mention that the position offered needs the education, training or experience that you have acquired in your field.
  • After the Labor Certification has been approved, your employer must submit Form I-140 (Petition for Alien Workers) on your behalf at a USCIS Regional Service Center that has jurisdiction over the location of your employment in the United States.

The EB-4 category is for special immigrant religious workers.

To qualify under this category:

  • You must be a member of a religious organization that has a non-profit religious unit in the U.S.
  • You must have been working in the religious organization for at least two years before applying to the U.S. for immigration.
  • You must be entering the U.S. to work in one of the following capacities:
    • As a minister or priest of a religious organization.
    • In a religious vocation or occupation for a religious organization that requires you to have a bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent.
    • In a religious vocation or occupation for a religious organization or its non-profit affiliate. The term religious vocation refers to cantors, missionaries, religious instructors, etc.

Documents required for an EB-4 visa

If you are applying as a religious worker in the E-4 category, along with submitting Form I-360, you are required to provide the following documents:

  1. Proof that your religious organization is a non-profit organization.
  2. An official letter from your religious organization in the U.S. stating:
    • That you have been a member of the denomination for at least two years.
    • That you have at least two years experience in your vocation or occupation.
    • How you will be paid for your work.
    • That you do not intend to supplement your income with a second job, or depend on charity for support.
    • Details of your proposed employment (explained in the table below).
Type of Job The letter should state
1. If you are a Minister: That you have been authorized to perform religious duties in general and should specify which duties you are authorized to perform.
2. If you are a Religious Professional: That you have a U.S. bachelor’s degree or the foreign equivalent that is required for your religious profession. You must also submit an official academic record.
3. If you are applying to work in the U.S. in    another religious vocation or occupation: That you are qualified to work in that religious vocation or occupation. For example, if you are applying to work as a nun or a monk, you will need to provide evidence that you are a nun or a monk.
4. If you are applying to work in the U.S. in a     non-ministerial or non-professional capacity    for a religious organization affiliated with a    religious denomination: How the religious organization is affiliated with the denomination.

Under U.S. immigration law, qualified individuals seeking permanent residence on the basis of their engagement in a new commercial enterprise can do so by applying for investor visas (EB-5 visas).

Permanent resident status based on EB-5 eligibility is available to investors, either alone or coming with their spouse and unmarried children. Eligible application will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Establishment of a business.
  • Active involvement in the business.
  • Investment of at least $1 million in the business ($500,000 is acceptable in certain designated areas) which can be in cash, equipment, inventory, etc.
  • Engagement in business that benefits the U.S. economy.
  • Creation of full-time employment for not fewer than 10 U.S. workers.

Qualified EB-5 investors are subject to “conditional” permanent residence for a two-year period. During this conditional period, the EB-5 investor must continuously meet the legal requirements for such investors. Ninety days before the second anniversary of the EB-5 investor’s admission to the U.S. as a conditional permanent resident, Form I-829 must be filed to remove this provisional condition.