Temporary Employment-Based Visa Classifications
One of the key principles guiding the U.S. immigration system has been admitting foreign workers with skills that are valuable to the U.S. economy. Current U.S. immigration law provides several paths for foreign workers to enter the United States for employment purposes on a temporary or permanent basis. There are many different temporary employment-based visa classifications.
Temporary employment-based visa classifications permit employers to hire and petition for foreign nationals for specific jobs for limited periods. Most temporary workers must work for the employer that petitioned for them and have limited ability to change jobs. In most cases, they must leave the United States if their status expires or if their employment is terminated.
Employers must pay filing fees and may need to pay additional fees in order to petition for foreign workers. Table 2 provides information on the various fees associated with key visa classifications. Processing employers’ petitions can take several months. Most employers may file a Request for Premium Processing Service (Form I-907) and pay a filing fee of $1,225 for petition processing within fifteen days of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receiving the petition. The election of the premium processing service does not provide the petitioner with any advantage with regard to categories with annual numerical limits.
We will arrange a free consultation to determine which employment visa category is most appropriate in your case taking into account many factors including your academic qualifications, experience, employer, immigration history etc.
Permanent Employment-Based Immigration
Lawful permanent residency allows a foreign national to work and live lawfully and permanently in the United States. Lawful permanent residents (LPRs) are eligible to apply for nearly all jobs (i.e., jobs not legitimately restricted to U.S. citizens) and can remain in the country even if they are unemployed. Immigrants who acquired lawful permanent resident status through employment may apply for U.S. citizenship after five years.
The adjustment of status to permanent residency based on employment generally involves a three-step process:
- First, employers seeking to petition on behalf of foreign workers are commonly required to obtain certification from the Department of Labor (DOL), establishing that there are no U.S. workers available, willing, and qualified to fill the position at a wage that is equal to or greater than the prevailing wage generally paid for that occupation in the geographic area where the position is located.
- Second, the employer is required to petition USCIS for the foreign worker. Immigrants can petition for themselves under limited circumstances.
- Third, a foreign worker who is already in the United States in a temporary visa classification may apply for “adjustment of status” to permanent residence upon the approval of the employer’s petition, if there is a visa number available. If these conditions have been met and the individual is outside the United States, or is in the United States but chooses to apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, the individual files an immigrant visa application, which is processed by a U.S. consular officer.
Most foreign nationals who obtain permanent residency are already in the United States.
Labor certification is not required for the first preference category. This category includes:
- (EB-1-1) aliens of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, and athletics;
- (EB-1-2) outstanding professors and researchers; and
- (EB-1-2) multinational executives.
Labor certification is not required for the fourth preference (“special immigrants”) and fifth preference (investors).
If you are not sure under which category you may be eligible, please call us today for a free evaluation.