The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that as of 2022, the nation’s workforce had as many as 29.8 million foreign-born workers. The United States has long been a land of opportunity, attracting people from around the world seeking better job prospects and a higher quality of life.
If you are considering making the U.S. your new professional home, it is important to understand the various employment-based immigration options available to you.
The H-1B visa is one of the most popular employment-based visas in the U.S. It is for highly skilled workers in specialty occupations, often requiring at least a bachelor’s degree. To secure an H-1B visa, you typically need a job offer from a U.S. employer willing to sponsor you. These visas have an annual cap, and competition can be fierce.
The L-1 visa is for intracompany transferees, allowing multinational companies to transfer employees with specialized knowledge or executive/managerial roles to their U.S. offices. It is a valuable option for those already working for a multinational company abroad.
Employment-based immigrant visas, commonly referred to as EB visas, offer a pathway to permanent residency in the U.S. There are several categories, including EB-1 for individuals with extraordinary abilities, EB-2 for those with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities and EB-3 for skilled workers and professionals. EB visas typically require a job offer and labor certification.
The TN visa is available to Canadian and Mexican citizens under the North American Free Trade Agreement. It allows professionals in specific occupations to work in the U.S. for approved employers.
The O visa is for individuals with extraordinary ability or achievement in fields such as science, arts, education, business or athletics. To qualify, you must demonstrate a high level of expertise and recognition in your field.
The E visa is available to individuals from countries with specific trade treaties with the U.S. There are two categories: E-1 for treaty traders and E-2 for treaty investors. To qualify, you must have involvement in substantial trade or investment activities with the U.S.
Green card through employment
If your goal is to become a permanent resident of the U.S., employment-based green card options exist. These include the aforementioned EB visas as well as the EB-4 visa for certain special immigrants, such as religious workers or employees of international organizations.
Each employment immigration option has specific eligibility criteria, application processes and requirements. Navigating the U.S. immigration system can be complex and time-consuming, so preparing ahead of time for the option you choose is essential.