Permanent employment-based immigration is set at a rate of 140,000 visas per year, and these are divided into 5 preferences, each subject to numerical limitations. The employment-based preference system is available for:
- Persons of “extraordinary ability” in the arts, science, education, business, or athletics; professors and researchers, some multinational executives. 40,000 visas
- Members of the professions holding advanced degrees, or persons of exceptional abilities in the arts, science, or business. 40,000 visas
- Skilled shortage workers with at least two years of training or experience, professionals with college degrees, or “other” workers for unskilled labor that is not temporary or seasonal. 40,000; Other” unskilled laborers restricted to not more than 10,000
- Certain “special immigrants” including religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, former U.S. government employees and other classes of aliens. 10,000 visas
- Persons will invest $500,000 to $1 million in a job-creating enterprise that employs at least 10 full time U.S. workers. 10,000 visas
In addition to the numerical limits placed upon the various immigration preferences, the INA also places a limit on how many immigrants can come to the United States from any one country. Currently, no group of permanent immigrants (family-based and employment-based) from a single country can exceed 7% of the total amount of people immigrating to the United States in a single year. This is not a quota that is set aside to ensure that certain nationalities make up 7% of immigrants, but rather a limit that is set to prevent any immigrant group from dominating immigration patterns to the United States.
To enter the United States lawfully as a nonimmigrant to work temporarily in the United States, your prospective employer must generally file a nonimmigrant petition on your behalf with USCIS. The main nonimmigrant temporary worker classifications are listed in the table below. For more information about the filing requirements for particular nonimmigrant classifications, see the specific classification links under “Temporary Workers” at the following website: http://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/temporary-nonimmigrant-workers
Temporary Non-Immigrant Work Visas
Spouses and Children Seeking Dependent Nonimmigrant Classification
Spouses and children who qualify for dependant nonimmigrant classification of a temporary worker and who are outside of the United States should apply directly at a U.S. consulate for a visa.
Spouses and children requesting a change of status or extension of stay in a dependent nonimmigrant classification must file Form I-539, Application to Extend/Change Nonimmigrant Status. Please see the Form I-539 instructions for further information on filing procedures for this application.
- CW-1: CNMI-Only Transitional Worker
- E-1 Treaty Traders
- E-2 CNMI Investor
- E-2 Treaty Investors
- E-3 Certain Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia
- H-1B Specialty Occupations and Fashion Models
- H-1C Registered Nurse
- H-2A Agricultural Workers
- H-2B Non-Agricultural Workers
- H-3 Nonimmigrant Trainee
- I Representatives of Foreign Media
- L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
- L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge
- O-1 Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
- P-1A Internationally Recognized Athlete
- P-1B Member of Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group
- P-2 Performer or Group Performing under Reciprocal Exchange Program
- P-3 Artist or Entertainer Part of a Culturally Unique Program
- Q Cultural Exchange
- R-1 Temporary Religious Workers
- TN NAFTA Professionals TN-1 or TN-2 (Canadians and Mexicans under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA))
NONIMMIGRANT CATEGORIES: For a complete list of all Categories, please go to http://www.state.gov/documents/organization/87170.pdf
Summary List of Nonimmigrant Visas
A-1. Ambassadors, public ministers, or career diplomats, and their spouses and children.
A-2. Other accredited officials or employees of foreign governments, and their spouses and children.
A-3. Attendants, servants, or Personal employees of A-1 and A-2 visa holders, or Immediate Family
B-1 Business visitors.
B-2. Visitors for pleasure or medical treatment.
B-1/OCS: For crewmembers working on Outer Continental Shelf (B-1/OCS) and yachts (B-1)
B-1/B-2: For general business purposes (e.g., meetings, short-term training); for tourism, visit to relatives and friends, or similar reasons
C-1. Foreign travelers in immediate and continuous transit through the U.S.
C-2 Foreign national in transit to the United Nations
C-3 Foreign government official, Immediate Family, Attendant, Servant or Personal Employee in Transit
D-1. Crew members (sea or air) who need to land temporarily in the U.S. and who will depart aboard the same ship or plane on which they arrived.
E-1. Treaty trader, working for a U.S. trading company that does 50% or more of its business with the trader’s home country, and their spouses and children.
E-2. Treaty investors working for a U.S. company with 50% or more of its investment capital coming from the investor’s home country, and their spouses and children.
E-2C Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands Investor, Spouse or Child
E-3. Australian Treaty Foreign National coming to the United States to perform services in a specialty occupation (similar to an H-1B) Spouses and children may accompany the E-3 visa holder.
E-3D Spouse or child of E-3
F-1. Academic or language students.
F-2. Spouses and children of F-1
F-3. Citizens or Mexican national commuter students in academic or language training program
G-1. Principal Representatives of foreign governments coming to the U.S. to work for an international organization, their Staff or Immediate Family.
G-2. Other Representatives of recognized Foreign Government coming to the U.S. to work for an international organization, Staff or Immediate Family
G-3. Representatives of Non-recognized Foreign Government to International organization, or Immediate Family
G-4. Officers or employees of international organizations or Immediate Family
G-5. Attendants, servants, and personal employees of G-1 through G-4 visa holders, and their spouses and children.
H-1B Persons working in specialty occupations requiring at least a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent in on-the-job experience, and distinguished fashion models.
H-1C Nurses who will work for up to three years in health professional shortage area.
H-2A Temporary agricultural workers performing agricultural services unavailable in U.S
H-2B. Temporary workers performing other services unavailable in the U.S
H-3 Temporary trainees coming for on-the-job training unavailable in their home countries.
H-4. Spouses and children of H-1, H-2, or H-3 visa holders.
I-1 Representatives of the foreign information media, spouse and children
J-1 Exchange visitors coming to the U.S. to study, work, or train as part of an exchange program officially recognized by the U.S. Department of State.
J-2 Spouses and children of J-1 visa holders.
K-1. Fiancés or fiancées of U.S. citizens coming to the U.S. for the purpose of getting married.
K-2. Minor, unmarried children of K-1 visa holders.
K-3. Spouses of U.S. citizen petitioners awaiting availability of an immigrant visa,
K-4. Unmarried children of K-3 visa holders.
L-1. Intercompany transferees (Executive, Managerial, and Specialized Knowledge Personnel Continuing Employment with an International Firm or Corporation)
L-2. Spouses and children of L-1 visa holders.
M-1. Vocational or other nonacademic students, other than language students.
M-2. Spouses and children of M-1 visa holders.
M-3. Canadian or Mexican national commuter student (Vocational student or other nonacademic student)
N-8. Parents of certain special immigrant classified as SK-2 or SN3
N-9. Children of N8 or of SK1, SK2, SK4, SN1, SN2 or SN4
NATO-1, NATO-2, NATO-3, NATO-4, and NATO-5. Representatives, officials, and experts coming to the U.S. under applicable provisions of the NATO Treaty, and their immediate family members.
NATO-6. Member of civilian component accompanying a Force entering in accordance with the Provisions of the NATO Status of Forces Agreement.
NATO-7. Attendants, servants, or personal employees of NATO-1 through NATO-6 visas holders, and their immediate family members.
O-1. Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
O-2. Essential support staff of O-1 visa holders.
O-3. Spouses and children of O-1 and O-2 visa holders.
P-1. Internationally recognized athletes and or member of internally recognized entertainment group.
P-2. Artist or Entertainer coming to perform in a reciprocal exchange program
P-3. Artists and entertainers coming to the U.S. in a culturally unique program
P-4. Spouses and children of P-1, P-2, and P-3 visa holders.
Q-1. Exchange visitors coming to the U.S. to participate in international cultural exchange programs.
Q-2. (Walsh visas) Participants in the Irish Peace Process Cultural and Training Program
Q-3. Spouses and children of Q-1 visa holders.
R-1. Ministers in a religious occupation to work
R-2. Spouses and children of R-1 visa holders.
S-5. People coming to the U.S. to supply information to U.S. authorities about a criminal organization or enterprise.
S-6. People coming to the U.S. to provide information to U.S. authorities relating to Terrorism
T-1. Victims of severe form of trafficking in persons.
T-2, T-3. Spouses and children of victims of trafficking.
P-4 Parent of T-1
TN NAFTA Professional Trade visas for Canadians and Mexicans.
TD Spouse or Child of NAFTA Professional
U-1 Victim of criminal activity. For foreign nationals who have suffered “substantial physical or mental abuse” as a result of certain U.S. criminal violations including domestic violence and who are assisting law enforcement authorities.
U-2, U-3 Spouses and children of U-1 visa holders.
U-4 Parent of U1 under 21 years of age
U-5 Unmarried Sibling under the age of 18 of U-1 under 21 years of age
V-1 Spouse of lawful permanent resident awaiting available visa number
V-2 Child of lawful permanent resident awaiting available visa number
V-3 Child of V-1 or V-2
Green Card Through Job Offers
U.S. law provides employers with several limited ways to bring foreign workers into the U.S. on a temporary or permanent basis. A permanent employment visa (commonly referred to as a “green card”) allows a foreign national to work and live lawfully and permanently in the United States. Lawful permanent residents are subject to fewer restrictions than temporary workers (nonimmigrants), and generally may apply for U.S. citizenship after five years. In most cases, the individual’s employer must file a petition with USCIS. An immigrant visa number must be available before a person can apply for a ‘green card’.
What Kind of Work Visas Are There?
A U.S. employer may sponsor a prospective or current foreign national employee who is inside or outside the United States and who may qualify under one or more of the employment-based (EB) immigrant visa categories. These EB visa categories are organized by occupational priorities as mandated by Congress.
The first four of these EB visa categories are available to otherwise eligible foreign nationals sponsored by U.S. employers:
Priority Workers EB-1 –: There are noncitizen foreign nationals who have
- Extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; and workers granted a national interest waiver. These workers are not required to have a job offer and may self-petition (the worker does not need an employer to sponsor them). Individuals of extraordinary ability are considered to be the best of the best in their field and it is an eligibility category that applies to very few individuals. Examples of who may be considered an immigrant include Nobel Prize winners, notable athletes, and others who have achieved great successes in their field.
- Outstanding professors and researchers;
- Multinational executives and managers.
Professionals With Advanced Degrees or Persons With Exceptional Ability – EB-2: This category is for noncitizen foreign nationals who, have:
- Exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, whose services will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural, or educational interests or welfare of the United States; or
- Aliens who are members of professions holding advanced degrees or the equivalent.
Professional or Skilled Workers EB-3 – This category is for:
- Professionals with a baccalaureate degree;
- Aliens capable of performing skilled labor (requiring at least 2 years of training or experience) for which qualified workers are not available in the United States;
- Aliens capable of performing unskilled labor for which qualified workers are not available in the United States. Jobs that fall in this category generally require less than 2 years’ experience. There are only 10,000 visas available worldwide in this category.
Special Immigrants — EB-4 –
- Afghan/Iraqi Translator
- International Organization Employee
- Iraqi Who Assisted the U.S. Government
- NATO-6 Nonimmigrant
- Panama Canal Employee
- Physician National Interest Waiver
- Religious Worker
Green Card through Investment
Entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) who make an investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and who plan to create or preserve ten permanent full time jobs for qualified United States workers, are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence).
Up to 10,000 visas may be authorized each fiscal year for eligible entrepreneurs.
You must invest $1,000,000, or at least $500,000 in a targeted employment area (high unemployment or rural area). In return, USCIS may grant conditional permanent residence to the individual.
For more information, see Section 203(b)(5) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and 8 CFR 204.6.
Eligibility Criteria: You may be eligible to receive permanent residence based on investment if:
- You have an approved Form I-526, Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur
- You are admissible to the United States
- An immigrant visa is immediately available