Foreign nationals who want to become U.S. Legal Permanent Residents have the option of doing so through a permanent, full-time, job offer in the United States. There are four categories for granting permanent residence to foreign nationals based upon employment:EB-1 (Priority Workers)
* For EB-1 priority workers, the foreign national or employer is not required to obtain a labor certification first, and can directly file Form I-140.EB-2 (Professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability)
- Foreign nationals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics
- Foreign nationals that are outstanding professors or researchers
- Foreign nationals that are managers and executives subject to international transfer to the United States
EB-3 (Skilled or Professional Workers)
- Foreign nationals of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business
- Foreign nationals that are advanced degree professionals
- Qualified alien physicians who will practice medicine in an area of the U.S. which is underserved
EB-4 (Special Immigrants)
- Foreign national professionals with bachelor’s degrees (not qualifying for a higher preference category)
- Foreign national skilled workers (minimum two years work experience)
* For EB-4 special workers, the foreign national or employer is not required to obtain a labor certification first, and can directly file Form I-360.Labor Certification
- Foreign national religious workers
- Employees and former employees of the U.S. Government abroad.
The EB-2 and EB-3 employment-based immigration categories require that the U.S. employer complete a labor certification request (also known as “PERM
”) for the applicant, and submit it to the U.S. Department of Labor, in order to show that there were no qualified U.S. workers to fill the position being offered. Once this is approved, then the U.S. employer files an immigrant visa petition, Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, for the person wishing to immigrate to the United States. After the I-140 is approved, the foreign national can apply for U.S. Legal Permanent Residency.
If the applicant is already in the United States, he or she can apply to adjust to permanent resident status after a visa number becomes available, based on their country of nationality, the date their case was filed and the category they are in. (Please refer to the “Resources
” on our site for the U.S. Department of State’s monthly Visa Bulletin.)
If the applicant is outside the United States, then when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he or she will be notified and must complete the process at his or her local U.S. Consulate.Non-Immigrant Employment VisasH-1B Professional Workers
- Only 65,000 new H-1B visas will be available for the upcoming fiscal year!
- We urge all employers who wish to sponsor a foreign professional to contact our office now!
The H-1B nonimmigrant visa category allows foreign workers in specialty occupations (and fashion models and foreign medical graduates) to seek temporary employment in the United States. The foreign worker must be “sponsored” by the U.S. employer and must possess a minimum equivalent to a U.S. Bachelor’s Degree.
There is an annual cap of 65,000 H-1B visas per year. (6,800 of those are set aside for foreign workers from Chile and Singapore.) However, foreign workers possessing an advanced degree (Master’s Degree or higher) from a U.S. university have a separate cap of 20,000 visas per year. The cap does NOT apply to those foreign workers already in H-1B status who are seeking to extend status or change employers. The cap also does NOT apply to those foreign workers being sponsored by an institution of higher education; a nonprofit organization or entity related to or affiliated with an institution of higher education; or a nonprofit research organization or governmental research organization.
Significantly, all of the H-1B visas are normally used up during the week of April 1st and then a lottery is conducted to determine who will receive them for that year. Therefore we urge all employers who wish to sponsor a foreign professional to contact our office far in advance of the April 1st filing date.
Spouses and children (under the age of 21 years old) of the foreign worker are eligible for an H-4 visa, which is valid for the duration of the principal applicant’s H-1B status.
Other alternatives to the H-1B visa include, but are not limited to, the TN (Canadian or Mexican nationals only), E-3 (Australian nationals only), L (multi-national executives or managers, or those employees with specialized knowledge) or E (treaty-trader or treaty-investor) visa.
E-3 (Australian Nationals Specialty Occupation Workers)
This is a new visa category, similar to the H-1B visa, but specifically for Australian nationals to perform specialty occupation services in the United States. The period of admission is 2 years, with up to 2 years per extension, with NO maximum number of extensions.
TN (Mexican and Canadian National Professionals Pursuant to NAFTA)
This visa is reserved for Mexican or Canadian nationals who intend to enter the United States on a temporary 1 year basis in an occupation enumerated under the North American Free Trade Agreement. This visa may be extended in 1 year increments, but the foreign worker CANNOT have intent to immigrate.
L-1A / L-1B (Multi-National Executives / Managers or Employees with Specialized Knowledge)
L-1A: This category is utilized when a foreign company’s executive or manager will be transferred to a U.S. branch, subsidiary or affiliate company. The executive or manager must have worked for the foreign entity for 1 out of the past 3 years. The period of admission is up to 3 years (those coming to open a new office in the U.S. are usually only granted 1 year to start), with extensions not to exceed a total period of stay of 7 years.
L-1B: This category is limited to “specialized knowledge employees” who have worked for the foreign company abroad for at least 1 year in the last 3 years, and will be placed at a U.S. branch, subsidiary or affiliate office. The employee must possess either: special knowledge of the company product and its application in international markets, or has an advanced level of knowledge of processes and procedures of the company. The period of admission is up to 3 years (those coming to open a new office in the U.S. are usually only granted 1 year to start), with extensions not to exceed a total period of stay of 5 years.
This category is utilized by U.S. companies and institutions in order to bring foreign nationals to the U.S. to participate in an existing training program, which is unavailable in the foreign national’s home country. The training program may not last for more than 2 years in duration, and the trainee may not engage in productive employment. The training of the foreign national cannot be used with the intention of employing them in the United States.
J-1 Trainee Visas
The J-1 Trainee Visa program exists to allow qualifying individuals to live, work and learn in the United States for a limited amount of time. Only those companies that receive designation by the Department of State as a J-1 visa program sponsor are eligible to act as a host company for J-1 Visa recipients. It is necessary to find a sponsor organization which can issue a Certificate of Eligibility for J-1 Training after a thorough review of the training program proposed by the host company; this process can take 1-2 months.