ISG is a Washington, DC-based law firm helping businesses employ the best & brightest. ISG works with employers and indivduals to ensure access to qualified workers.
ISG partners with HR Executives of fortune 500 companies, multinational corporations, mid-sized and small businesses to provide immigration solutions and the exceptional preparation of H-1B, H-2B, E, L-1, O, TN and other temporary visa petitions and applications for permanent residence — incluing a host of policy guidance programs, strategic planning advice, I-9 compliance audits and in-house support.
Becoming a permanent resident based on employment can require a number of steps, including obtaining a labor certification from the receiving approval on a petition for alien worker from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) (Form I-140) and obtaining an immigrant visa from the Department of State (“consular processing”) or obtaining an immigrant visa while in the United States (“adjustment of status”). In addition, by law there are numerical limits on the number of people who can immigrate to the U.S. each year in most categories.
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides a yearly limit of 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas, which are divided into five preference categories . They usually require a labor certification from the US Department of Labor (DOL) and the filing of a petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
An immigrant is a foreign national who has been authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. If you want to become an immigrant based on the fact that you have a permanent employment opportunity in the United States, or if you are an employer that wants to sponsor someone for lawful permanent residency based on permanent employment in the United States, you must go through a multi-step process.
Step One: Foreign nationals (“aliens”) and employers must determine if the foreign national is eligible for lawful permanent residency under one of immigration service’s paths to lawful permanent residency.
Step Two: Most employment categories require that the U.S. employer complete a labor certification request for the applicant, and submit it to the Department of Labor (DOL).
Step Three: United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must approve an immigrant visa petition for Alien Worker for the person wishing to immigrate to the United States. The employer wishing to bring the applicant to the United States to work permanently files this petition. However, if a Department of Labor certification is needed the application can only be filed after the certification is granted. The employer acts as the sponsor (or petitioner) for the applicant (or beneficiary) who wants to live and work on a permanent basis in the United States.
Step Four: The State Department must give the applicant an immigrant visa number, even if the applicant is already in the United States. When the applicant receives an immigrant visa number, it means that an immigrant visa has been assigned to the applicant.
Step Five: If the applicant is already in the United States, he or she must apply to adjust to permanent resident status after a visa number becomes available. If the applicant is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he or she will be notified and must complete the process at his or her local U.S. consulate office.
The Five Employment-Based Categories
There are five categories for granting permanent residence to foreign nationals based on employment skills. In 1990, Congress created a priority system for granting permanent residence to aliens based on employment skills. Annually, 140,000 immigration visas are available for principal aliens who qualify under the following five employment-based (“EB”) preference categories:
First Preference “EB-1″: “Priority Workers”
- Aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics
- Outstanding professors or researchers
- Certain managers and executives transferred to the United States to work for their foreign employer or a U.S. affiliate or subsidiary firm
Second Preference “EB-2″: Advanced degree Professionals and Aliens of Exceptional Ability
- Aliens of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business.
- Members of the professions, if they hold an advanced degree (or the equivalent).
- National Interest Waivers
Third Preference “EB-3″: Skilled Workers, Professionals and other Workers
- Professionals with bachelor’s degrees (not qualifying for a higher preference category)
- Skilled workers (minimum two years training and experience)
- Unskilled workers (maximum 10,000 visas available per year, of which 5,000 have been dedicated to adjustees under the Nicaraguan Adjustment and Central American Relief Act (NACARA).
Fourth Preference “EB-4″: Special Immigrants; Religious Workers
This classification is comprised of all special immigrants as defined in INA § 101(a)(27), other than returning residents (§ 101(a)(27)(A)) and former U.S. citizens who are eligible to become citizens again under INA § 324(a) or 327 (§101(a)(27)(B)). This information, however, discusses only one subcategory: religious workers.
- Ministers (those authorized to conduct worship services and perform other duties assigned to the clergy of the religion);
- Religious workers in professional fields;
- Other religious workers.
Fifth Preference “EB-5″: Immigrant Investors
This category is limited to alien entrepreneurs whose new commercial enterprises will directly create 10 or more new jobs in the U.S.; 3,000 visas reserved for investors in targeted employment areas and 300 for Immigrant Investor Pilot Program.
If you are an employer wishing to sponsor a foreign national to work in the United States on a permanent basis, are unsure which employment category applies to the foreign national you wish to sponsor, or if you are a foreign national and want more information on which category matches your particular situation, contact us to schedule an appointment with an attorney.