Categories of Business Immigrant Visas
Employment 1st Preference (E1): Priority workers
A 1st Preference applicant must be the beneficiary of an approved Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker, Form I-140, filed with USCIS. Labor certification is not needed for any of the Priority Worker subgroups. Priority Workers obtain 28.6 percent of the annual worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas.
There are 3 sub-groups in this category:
- This group includes applicants with outstanding ability in the arts, education, sciences, business, or athletics, who must have extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in their areas of expertise. Once they are entering the U.S. to continue work in the areas in which they have extraordinary ability, such persons do not have to have specific job offers. They can file their own Immigrant Petitions for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS.
- Internationally recognized researchers and professors, who are outstanding in their fields and have at least 3 years experience in teaching or research. Persons in this subgroup must be coming to the U.S. to gain tenure, tenure track teaching, or a comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education, and the future employer must provide a job offer and file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS.
- This subgroup includes multinational managers or executives who have been employed for at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer. The person must be coming to work in a managerial or executive area, and their employment outside of the U.S. must have been in a managerial or executive area. The future employer is required to provide a job offer and file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS.
Employment 2nd Preference (E2): Professionals holding advanced degrees and persons of exceptional ability
A 2nd Preference applicant normally has a labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. The U.S. employer must file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, on behalf of the person, and a job offer is required. A National Interest Waiver is an exemption which applicants can apply for, from the job offer and labor certification. This applies if the exemption is in the national interest, in which case the person can file the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, along with proof of the national interest. Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability obtain any unused visas from the Employment First Preference category and also 28.6 percent of the annual worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas.
There are 2 types in this category:
- Professionals who have an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least 5 years progressive experience in their field of expertise.
- Applicants with outstanding ability in the arts, business, or sciences. Outstanding and exceptional ability means holding a degree of expertise significantly above that normally seen in the arts, business, or sciences.
Employment 3rd Preference (E3): Professionals, skilled workers and unskilled workers (other workers)
A 3rd Preference applicant is required to have an authorized Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, filed by the future employer. All such workers normally need labor certification authorized by the Department of Labor. Professionals, Skilled Workers and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers) obtain any unused visas from the Employment First Preference and Second Preference subgroups, and 28.6 percent of the annual worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas.
There are 3 types in this group:
- Skilled workers are persons whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years training or work experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
- Professionals whose jobs need at least a baccalaureate degree from a U.S. college or university or its foreign equivalent degree.
- Unskilled workers (Other workers) include people who are capable of filling positions that require less than 2 years experience or training that are not temporary or seasonal.
Employment 4th Preference (E4): Certain special immigrants
A 4th Preference applicant must be the beneficiary of an authorized Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, Form I-360. There is an exception for Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad (refer to number 3 below). Labor certification is not needed for the subgroups of the Certain Special Immigrants. Special Immigrants obtain 7.1 percent of the annual worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas.
In this section, there are many subgroups:
- U.S. Broadcasters employed by the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or a grantee of such organization
- Religious Ministers
- Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad – Must use Form DS-1884, Petition To Classify Special Immigrant Under INA 203(b)(4) As An Employee Or Former Employee of the U.S. Government Abroad
- Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government
- Certain Former Employees of the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone
- Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government on April 1st, 1979
- Afghan and Iraqi translators / interpreters who meet the requirements and have worked directly with the United States armed forces or under Chief of Mission authority for a period of at least 12 months. This category has an yearly limit of 50 visas.
- Afghan and Iraqi nationals who have given valuable service while employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq for not less than 1 year after March 20th, 2003 or in Afghanistan for not less than 1 year after October 7th, 2001, and have encountered a continuous serious threat as a result of that employment. The provision in U.S. law for Iraqi nationals created 5,000 special immigrant visas each fiscal year (FY) for 5 years, from FY2008 through FY2012, and for Afghan nationals created 1,500 special immigrant visas each fiscal year for 5 years from FY2009 through FY2013.
- Certain Foreign Medical Graduates (Adjustments Only)
- Certain Retired International Organization Employees
- Certain Unmarried Sons and Daughters of International Organization Employees
- Certain Surviving Spouses of deceased International Organization Employees
- Juvenile Court Dependents (no family member derivatives; Adjustments Only)
- Persons Recruited Outside of the United States Who Have Served or are Enlisted to Serve in the U.S. Armed Forces
- Certain retired NATO-6 civilians
- Certain Unmarried Daughters and Sons of NATO-6 civilians
- Certain Surviving Spouses of deceased NATO-6 civilian employees
- Applicants who are beneficiaries of petitions or labor certification applications filed before September 11th, 2001, if the petition or application was rendered void due to a terrorist act on September 11th, 2001
- Certain Religious Workers
Employment 5th Preference (E5): Immigrant Investors
A 5th Preference applicant must file an Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, Form I-526, with USCIS. Labor certification is not needed for Immigrant Investors. In order to qualify as an Immigrant Investor, a foreign national must invest between U.S. $500,000 and $1,000,000. This is dependent on the unemployment rate in the geographical area, in a commercial enterprise in the United States which creates at least 10 new full-time jobs for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or other lawful immigrants, not including the investor and his or her family. Immigrant Investors obtain 7.1 percent of the annual worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas.