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Immigration Rules and Laws #3: Employment-Based Visas

Visa Stamps

Immigration Rules and Laws #3 : Employment-Based Visas

Many people dream of working in the United States. Thankfully, there are several employment-based immigrant visas that can make that goal a reality.

However, each of the employment-based visa programs is complex, featuring its own rules and limitations. It’s crucial to understand the nuances, allowing those who wish to obtain an employment-based visa to navigate the landscape successfully.

If you want to learn more about employment-based immigrant visas in the U.S., here is an overview of the program.

Employment-Based Immigration Programs

There are two primary employment-based immigration programs in the U.S. One issues temporary work visas that last for a specific amount of time, providing limited work privileges and requiring the person to leave the U.S. if the visa expires and isn’t extended.

The other is permanent, allowing the person to stay in the United States long-term. Plus, it secures work and other privileges beyond what’s available through the temporary work visa program.

Temporary Work Visas

Temporary work visas are non immigrant visas. They are finite in nature, lasting for a set amount of time. Additionally, they are usually limited to a single employer.

With a temporary work visa, employer sponsorship is required. The employer files the petition on behalf of the worker, acting as a type of sponsor.

Additionally, the employer has to ensure certain conditions are met. For example, they have to demonstrate that bringing in the worker won’t displace a U.S. worker. This usually involves showing that the needed skills aren’t widely available in their area, making the need for outside talent clearer, though there can be other approaches, as well.

Along the way, different kinds of documentation are often necessary. This includes identity verification documents, proof of applicable skills, and similar types of information.

If approved, the temporary worker is allowed to enter or remain in the country lawfully for the stated time period. However, they will need to continue to meet the conditions of the visa, which usually means remaining employed at that company or in that field.

Once the approved amount of time passes, your employer may be able to request an extension on your behalf. However, employers aren’t required to request an extension. Additionally, even if they do, there is no guarantee it will be approved.

Permanent Employment-Based Visas

Immigrant employment-based visas allow a person to seek permanent residence in the U.S. on the basis of employability. Usually, the visa is based on being employed in a specific field or job category.

However, while the visa isn’t necessarily limited to working with a single employer, the person usually needs a job offer and a labor certification to be eligible for the program. Additionally, that employer will need to file a Form I-140: Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker on behalf of the worker to initiate the process.

In most cases, individuals who have skill sets that are in limited supply in the United States are most likely to qualify for either approach. However, there are a limited number of slots in each of the main permanent employment-based visa categories.

Each of the categories covers a specific level of capability. Additionally, they typically have subgroups that further define the worker’s abilities.

E1 – Priority Worker and Person of Extraordinary Ability

The E1 category mainly includes individuals with extraordinary abilities in key fields, including science, education, business, arts, and athletics. Extraordinary researchers and professors, as well as managers or executives with multinational experience, can also qualify.

E2 – Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability

For the E2 category, individuals with degrees above the baccalaureate level and five years of relevant experience, as well as those with exceptional skills in science, business, or art may qualify.

At times, those who wish to immigrate in the E2 category may be able to apply for an exemption to expedite entry. With a National Interest Waiver, a job offer and labor certification might be unnecessary, and the person can then submit a Form I-140 as a self-petitioner.

E3 – Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers

The E3 category includes workers in positions that typically require a minimum of two years of relevant training or experience, Bachelor’s degree holders, and workers who can fill jobs that require fewer than two years of training or experience, suggesting the position isn’t seasonal or temporary.

E4 – Certain Special Immigrants

In the E4 category, the person usually has to be a beneficiary of an approved Form I-360: Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. Specific broadcasters, ministers, medical graduates, religious workers, and more can fall into this group.

Additionally, certain current or former U.S. Government employees who worked abroad qualify and may be exempt from the Form I-360 requirement. This can include a wide range of professionals, as well as some family members of qualifying individuals.

E5 – Immigrant Investors

The E5 group includes foreign investors who are undertaking new commercial developments that lead to job creation.

Family Members of Employment-Based Immigration Visa Holder

If a person is approved for an employment-based immigrant visa, specific family members may also apply for entry. Spouses may apply with the original petitioner, as well as unmarried children who are under the age of 21.

Beyond that, family members are not eligible to apply with the original person at the time this visa is issued.

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