Employment-Based (E) Visas
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 theU.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the filing of a petition with theDepartment of Homeland Security (DHS).
Employment First Preference (E1)
Priority Workers must have an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker, normally filed by the employer in the U.S. with the DHS. They include:
- People of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Applicants must have extensive documentation showing national or international acclaim and recognition in their field of expertise. They do not have to have a specific job offer, and can file their own petition with the DHS.
- Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally. No labor certification is required for this classification, but the prospective employer must provide a job offer and file a petition with the DHS; and
- Executives and managers who have already been employed by a U.S. company’s affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch. No labor certification is required, but the prospective employer must provide a job offer and file a petition with the DHS.
Employment Second Preference (E2)
Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees, or Persons of Exceptional Ability in the Arts, Sciences, or Business. All applicants must have a labor certification, or establish that they qualify for one of the shortage occupations. A job offer is required and the U.S. employer must file a petition on behalf of the applicant.
Employment Third Preference (E3)
Skilled Workers, Professionals Holding Baccalaureate Degrees and Other Workers. All applicants require an approved Form I-140 petition filed by the prospective employer. All require a labor certification or evidence that they qualify for one of the shortage occupations.
Employment Fourth Preference (E4)
Special E4 Immigrants must be the beneficiary of an approved I-360, Petition for Special Immigrant, except overseas employees of the U.S. Government who must use Form DS-1884.
Employment Fifth Preference (E5)
Employment Creation Investor applicants must file a Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, with the USCIS. To qualify, the applicant must invest between U.S. $500,000 and $1,000,000, in a commercial enterprise which creates at least 10 new full-time jobs for U.S. citizens, permanent resident aliens, or other lawful immigrants, not including the investor and his or her family.
A person whose occupation requires a labor certification must have prearranged employment in the United States.
Individual Labor Certification and Petition for Employment Based Immigration
The prospective employer will coordinate with the prospective employee to file the appropriate forms for the Labor Certification in the United States where the work will be performed. The employer will be notified by the Department of Labor (DOL) when it is approved or disapproved. If a labor certification is granted, the employer may then file a Form I-140, Petition for Prospective Immigrant Employee, with the DHS for the appropriate preference category.
Step One - File the Immigrant Visa Petition
All intending immigrants who plan to base their immigrant visa application on employment in the United States must obtain an approved immigrant visa petition, filed by their prospective employer, from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). If a labor certification is granted, the employer must first obtain that and then file a Form I-140, petition for Prospective Immigrant employee. The DHS will forward the approved petition to the National Visa Center, which will contact the intending immigrant with further information.
Step Two - Gather the Required Documents and Prepare for the Immigrant Visa Interview
Once you have received the "Instruction Package for Immigrant Visa Applicants", the intending immigrant must follow the instructions regarding the visa fees and documentation. Once NVC has received your immigrant visa fee, it will send you the immigrant visa application (Form DS-230, part I) along with further instructions.
STEP THREE: The Immigrant Visa Interview
Once the American Embassy in Paris has received your immigrant visa case from the National Visa Center, the Immigrant Visa Unit will schedule your visa interview.
- Appointments are necessary for immigrant visa interviews. Everyone applying for immigration must appear in person, that includes the principal applicant (prospective employee) and eligible accompanying family members.
- You will need to have a medical exam. The fee for the medical exam is in addition to fees paid directly to the US government. You pay this fee, in euros, to the doctor directly.
- Applicants may be found ineligible in accordance with immigrantvisa law. For example, if you have a communicable disease, have committed criminal acts, or you are likely to become a public charge you will be found ineligible. The two years foreign residency requirement for former exchange visitors is also applicable. If you are found ineligible, the consular officer will advise you if the law provides for a waiver.
Step Four - After the Visa is Approved and Issued
Once you have received your immigrant visa, you must enter the United States within 6 months of visa issuance to obtain an alien registration receipt or "green" card (Form I-151 or I-551) that will allow you to live and work in the United States.
- At the port of entry DHS officials will assign you an "alien number."
- They will stamp your passport with this number and make a notation that you are registered for an alien registration card.
- It normally takes several months for DHS to process and send the alien registration card to you.
- In the interim, the passport stamp, valid for a year, permits employment and travel while you await your card. You may depart and return to the U.S. before you receive the alien registration receipt card, as long as the DHS stamp in you passport has not expired.
- Should you wish to leave the U.S. and your stamp has expired and you have not yet received your alien card, you should contact DHS in the U.S. before departure to obtain permission to return to the U.S.
- If, in the future, you plan to live outside the U.S. for more than 12 months, you must apply for a re-entry permit (Form I-131) in the U.S. BEFORE departure. The maximum validity of this document is two years. If the relocation is permanent, you should formally abandon your permanent resident status. Without a re-entry permit, any absence from the U.S. of 12 months or longer, or any residence established outside the U.S., is considered grounds for loss of permanent resident status.