Help Wanted: How Employment-Based Visas Work in the United States

As immigration continues to be a hot topic, now is a great time for a refresher on the various employment-based visas that allow thousands of non-citizens to work and live in the United States. For some professions, these are easier to obtain than in others. And for many, it is a wait of several years.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website acknowledges “there are many other visas available in First (Priority Workers) and Second (Workers with Higher Education or Exceptional Abilities) based on employment. …”

Occupation-based (EB) “immigrant preference” categories include:


Immigrants with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding teacher or researcher; or certain leaders or managers of multinationals. Each occupational category has certain requirements that must be met.

• Extraordinary Ability: Must be able to demonstrate extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics through sustained national or international recognition. There is a list of 10 criteria, and applicants must meet three or provide proof of an internationally recognized major award – Pulitzer, Oscar, Olympic medal – as well as evidence showing that they will continue to work in the field of expertise.

• Outstanding Professor and Researchers: Must demonstrate international recognition for outstanding achievement in a particular academic field. Applicants must have at least three years of teaching or research experience in this academic field and are entering the United States to pursue tenure-track or tenure-track teaching or a comparable research position at a university, a higher education institution or a private employer. They must meet at least two of the six criteria and provide a job offer from the potential US employer. The private employer must demonstrate documented accomplishments and employ at least three full-time researchers.

• Certain executives or managers of multinational corporations: must have been employed outside the United States for at least one year in the three years prior to the application or last legal nonimmigrant admission if already working for the applicant U.S. employer . The U.S. petitioner must have done business for at least 1 year, have a qualifying relationship with the entity the nominee worked for outside of the United States, and intend to employ the nominee in a management or of management.

• Numbers: Based on year received, total number of applications: 24,170, 12,268 approved, 2,531 denied and 9,371 pending for 2019. Base filing fee is $700.


Immigrants may be eligible for an employment-based second-preference visa if a member of the professions holds an advanced degree or its equivalent, or has exceptional ability, including national interest waiver requests. Below are the professional categories and requirements.

• Advanced degree: the job applied for must require an advanced degree and the candidate must possess such a degree or its foreign equivalent – ​​a bachelor’s degree or equivalent foreign degree plus five years of progressive post-baccalaureate work experience in the field. Applicants must meet all other requirements specified on the applicable employment certificate as of the priority date.

• Exceptional Ability: Applicants must be able to demonstrate exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business. Exceptional ability “means a degree of expertise significantly above that usually encountered in the sciences, arts, or business”. They must meet all the requirements specified on the labor certification, if applicable, and three of the seven criteria identified.

• Certificate of Employment and Ability to Pay: Petitions must generally be accompanied by a certified request for a certificate of permanent employment from the Department of Labor (DOL) on Form ETA 9089; however, the DOL provides global Schedule A labor certification for those with international reputation and recognition or certain professional nurses and physical therapists – in certain situations. An employer must be able to demonstrate their ability to pay the offered wage from the priority date until the applicant obtains lawful permanent resident status.

• Numbers: Based on year received, total number of applications: 78,209, 65,042 approved, 1,123 denied and 12,044 pending for 2019. Base filing fee is $700.


This category is described as skilled workers, professionals or other workers. The EB-3 has the longest wait time of the employment-based green cards. The process can take several years.


Comments are closed.