EB (EB-1, EB-2, NIW, EB-3, EB-4)
The employment-based visas in the “EB” classification are available to foreign nationals who are seeking to permanently relocate to the United States. As such, they are classified as immigrant visas (as opposed to nonimmigrant or dual intent visas) and obtaining an EB visa can put you on the path to obtaining a green card and eventually becoming a U.S. citizen, if desired.
Each year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues approximately 140,000 immigrant visas in the EB category. This includes visas issued to individuals who qualify based upon the work they intend to perform in the United States as well as their spouses and children. Eligibility conditions and requirements vary between the various EB visa types, and the number attached to an EB visa (e.g., EB-1 or EB-2) indicates the applicant’s preference status for obtaining one of the limited number of visas available.
First Preference EB-1
The first preference EB-1 visa is available to individuals who, “have an extraordinary ability, are an outstanding professor or researcher, or are a multinational executive or manager.” Within each of these three categories, there are specific requirements that must be met in order to successfully apply for an EB-1 immigrant visa. For example, individuals applying on the basis of extraordinary ability must provide evidence that they meet at least three of the ten applicable criteria (such as having a professional or trade publication), and professors and researchers must have at least three years’ experience and provide documentary evidence (such as publications or awards) of their international recognition.
Second Preference EB-2
Foreign nationals who are eligible for second preference EB-2 visas are those who are professionals holding an advanced degree or its equivalent (a baccalaureate degree plus five years of progressive work experience in the field), or who qualify based upon “exceptional ability” in the sciences, art or business. Similar to an application for an EB-1 visa based upon extraordinary ability, an application for an EB-2 visa based upon exceptional ability requires evidence of satisfaction of a minimum of three criteria. Examples include an exceptional academic record, 10 years of relevant work experience, a professional license, membership in professional associations, and industry or peer recognition.
National Interest Waiver (NIW) for EB-2 Immigrant Visas
Generally, in order to obtain an EB-2 visa, the applicant must present a Labor Certification from his or her U.S.-based employer. However, if it is in the interests of the United States for the applicant to immigrate without a Labor Certification, then he or she can apply for a national interest waiver (NIW).
Third-preference EB-3 visas are available to foreign nationals who are either (i) skilled workers with at least two years of training or experience and a full-time job offer, (ii) professionals with a U.S. baccalaureate degree or foreign degree equivalent and a full-time job offer in their field, or (iii) unskilled workers (or “other workers”) with a full-time job offer. As noted by USCIS, “[w]hile eligibility requirements for the third preference classification are less stringent, you should be aware that a long backlog exists for visas in the ‘other workers’ category.”
Fourth Preference EB-4
Fourth preference EB-4 visas are available to foreign nationals who qualify as “special immigrants” based upon their field of work. Those who may qualify for an EB-4 immigration visa include:
- Religious Workers
- Special Immigrant Juveniles
- G-4 International Organization or NATO-6 Employees and Their Family Members
- International Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad
- Armed Forces Members
- Panama Canal Zone Employees
- Certain Physicians
- Afghan and Iraqi Translators
- Afghan and Iraqi Nationals Who Have Provided Faith Service in Support of U.S. Operations
Speak With an Immigration Attorney in Confidence
If you need to apply for an EB visa or would like help determining if you qualify for an immigrant visa as a permanent worker, we encourage you to contact us for an initial consultation.