This post provides a summary of employment-based nonimmigrant and immigrant visa classifications and other categories of aliens who are eligible for employment authorization.
There are two overarching visa categories available for workers:
Temporary workers - nonimmigrant visa, and
Permanent workers - immigrant visa.
TEMPORARY (NONIMMIGRANT) WORKERS
There are 22 different employment based nonimmigrant (temporary) visa available. This section will only discuss the most commonly applied for nonimmigrant visa. Go to USCIS to view the full list of visas.
H-1B Speciality Occupation - A Speciality Occupation is one that requires the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge; and attainment of a bachelor's or higher degree in the specific specialty (or its equivalent) as a minimum for entry into the occupation in the United States.
L-1A Intracompany Transferees in Managerial or Executive Positions - To qualify for L-1 classification in this category, the employer must:
Have a qualifying relationship with a foreign company (parent company, branch, subsidiary, or affiliate, collectively referred to as qualifying organizations); and
Currently be, or will be, doing business as an employer in the United States and in at least one other country directly or through a qualifying organization for the duration of the beneficiary’s stay in the United States as an L-1. While the business must be viable, there is no requirement that it be engaged in international trade.
L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge - To qualify the employer must satisfy the L-1A qualifications above plus:
Demonstrate special knowledge possessed by an individual of the petitioning organization’s product, service, research, equipment, techniques, management, or other interests and its application in international markets, or an advanced level of knowledge or expertise in the organization’s processes and procedures.
O-1 Extraordinary Ability in Sciences, Arts, Education, Business, or Athletics and Motion Picture or TV Production - must demonstrate extraordinary ability by sustained national or international acclaim and must be coming temporarily to the United States to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.
R-1 Religious Workers - Coming to the United States temporarily to work at least part time (an average of at least 20 hours per week) as a minister or in a religious vocation or occupation and be employed by a:
Non-profit religious organization in the United States;
Religious organization that is authorized by a group tax exemption holder to use its group tax exemption; or
Non-profit organization which is affiliated with a religious denomination in the United States.
To qualify, you must have been a member of a religious denomination having a bona fide non-profit religious organization in the United States for at least two years immediately before filing the petition.
PERMANENT (IMMIGRANT) WORKERS
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. The five employment-based immigrant visa preferences (categories):
PERMANENT WORKER VISA PREFERENCE CATEGORIES
EB-1: First Preference - an alien of extraordinary ability, are an outstanding professor or researcher, or are a certain multinational executive or manager.
EB-2: Second Preference - a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent, or a foreign national who has exceptional ability, or national interest waiver.
EB-3: Third Preference - skilled worker, professional, or other worker.
“Skilled workers” are persons whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years training or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature. The skilled worker must meet the educational, training, or experience requirements of the job opportunity. Relevant post-secondary education may be considered as training.
“Professionals” are persons whose job requires at least a U.S. baccalaureate or foreign equivalent degree and are a member of the professions.
The “other workers” subcategory is for persons performing unskilled labor requiring less than 2 years training, education, or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature.
EB-4: Fourth Preference - special immigrants including:
Special Immigrant Juveniles;
Certain retired officers or employees of a G-4 international organization or NATO-6 civilian employees and their family members;
Certain employees of the U.S. government who are abroad and their family members;
Members of the U.S. armed forces;
Panama Canal company or Canal Zone government employees;
Certain physicians licensed and practicing medicine in a U.S. state as of Jan. 9, 1978;
Afghan or Iraqi translators or interpreters;
EB-5: IMMIGRANT INVESTOR PROGRAM - Make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States ($1,800,000 or $900,000); and plan to create or preserve 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers.
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