For many people born outside the United States, immigration through employment offers an easier route to permanent residence and a green card. Generally speaking, employment-based immigration can take significantly less time than immigration via family ties. Plus, you usually have the benefit of a large corporation’s legal department, and deeper pockets. Both of those can factor into how quickly approval of an immigration application happens.

However, we would be remiss if we implied that employment-based immigration was “easy.” The U.S. government is well aware of the attractive benefits associated with permanent residence here in the U.S. Not just anyone will be granted a green card via employment. In fact, there is a list of “preference categories” which put more weight behind applicants with a specific job or career.

Put another way? Individuals with specific skill sets will have a much better chance of being approved for immigration through employment.

What Are The “Preference Categories” For Immigration Through Employment?

The five different categories classify jobs by the amount of education necessary to adequately fulfill the roles and responsibilities. Take a computer programmer as an example. At an entry level, you likely only need a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science. There are quite a few more people out there with Bachelor’s in CS than there are, say, with a Master’s or Doctorate in Physics. The more rare and difficult degree accompanies an equally rare position: nuclear physicist. In this example, the nuclear physicist has a much better chance of successful employment-based immigration than the entry-level computer programmer.

First Preference Category

To meet the criteria for an employment-based, first preference visa (EB-1) you might be one of the following:

  • Outstanding professors and researchers Requires documentation of extraordinary ability Example: Stephen Hawking and Albert Einstein
  • Multinational manager or executive Requires sponsoring corporation and additional documentation of extraordinary ability Example: Jeff Bezos
  • Other extraordinary ability Pulitzer or Nobel prizes, Olympic medals, etc. Example: Gymnastics coach Bela Karolyi

Sound like you? If so, you qualify for first preference and likely have immediate access to an immigrant visa and, eventually, a green card. This is probably the category our hypothetical nuclear physicist falls into.

Not you? Needless to say, this does not include your average individual, so don’t worry. You can still qualify under second preference standards.

Second Preference Category

This category has a slightly longer wait than first preference but is still quite quick. The second category includes:

  • Advanced degree Required documentation such as transcripts or other official records.
  • Exceptional ability Requires documentation of professional licenses, employer references, over 10 years of experience in your profession, etc.
  • National interest waiver This is a bit of a gray area, but if your employment is or was “of great benefit to the nation” then you are in. Examples might be Afghan/Iraqi interpreters, Iraqi who assisted the U.S. government, religious workers

Third Preference Category

This category has longer wait times, but far more realistic expectations. This is where our entry-level computer programmer likely falls.

  • Skilled workers Requires two years of job experience and documentation of a full-time job offer.
  • Professionals with a U.S. degree or equivalent Must be performing work in which there is a shortage of qualified U.S. workers. Job offer also required.
  • Unskilled workers Petition must be filed on their behalf. Must work in a non-seasonal industry. Job offer also required.

Still have questions? Interested in learning about the fourth and fifth categories for immigration through employment? You don’t have to find answers about immigration through employment on your own. Contact the Lee Law Firm now and get the answers you need about immigration through employment today.