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U.S. Department of State 
95/08/01 Visas: Employment-Based Visas 
Bureau of Consular Affairs 
 
 
                             EMPLOYMENT-BASED VISAS 
 
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides a yearly minimum of 140,000 
employment-based immigrant visas which are divided into five preference 
categories.  They may require a labor certification from the U.S. 
Department of Labor (DOL), and the filing of a petition with the 
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS). 
 
CATEGORIES 
 
Employment First Preference (E1) 
 
Priority Workers receive 28.6 percent of the yearly worldwide limit.  
All Priority Workers must be the beneficiaries of an approved Form I-
140, Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker, filed with INS.  Within this 
preference there are three sub-groups: 
 
--  Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, 
business, or athletics.  Applicants in this category must have extensive 
documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and 
recognition in the field of expertise.  Such applicants do not have to 
have a specific job offer so long as they are entering the U.S. to 
continue work in the field in which they have extraordinary ability.  
Such applicants can file their own petition with the INS, rather than 
through an employer; 
 
--  Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years 
experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally.  
No labor certification is required for this classification, but the 
prospective employer must provide a job offer and file a petition with 
the INS;  and 
 
--  Certain executives and managers who have been employed at least one 
of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, 
subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer.  The applicant must be 
coming to work in a managerial or executive capacity.  No labor 
certification is required for this classification, but the prospective 
employer must provide a job offer and file a petition with the INS. 
 
Employment Second Preference (E2) 
 
Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees, or Persons of Exceptional 
Ability in the Arts, Sciences, or Business receive 28.6 percent of the 
yearly worldwide limit, plus any unused Employment First Preference 
visas.  All Second Preference applicants must have a labor certification 
approved by the DOL, or Schedule A designation, or establish that they 
qualify for one of the shortage occupations in the Labor Market 
Information Pilot Program  (later).  A job offer is required and the 
U.S. employer must file a petition on behalf of the applicant.  Aliens 
may apply for exemption from the job offer and labor certification if 
the exemption would be in the national interest, in which case the alien 
may file the petition, Form I-140,  along with evidence of the national 
interest.  There are two subgroups within this category: 
 
--  Professionals holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate 
degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years progressive 
experience in the profession;  and 
 
--  Persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business.  
Exceptional ability means having a degree of expertise significantly 
above that ordinarily encountered within the field. 
 
Employment Third Preference (E3) 
 
Skilled Workers, Professionals Holding Baccalaureate Degrees and Other 
Workers receive 28.6 percent of the yearly worldwide limit, plus any 
unused Employment First and Second Preference visas.  All Third 
Preference applicants require an approved I-140 petition filed by the 
prospective employer.  All such workers require a labor certification, 
or Schedule A designation, or evidence that they qualify for one of the 
shortage occupations in the  Labor Market Information Pilot Program.  
There are three subgroups within this category: 
 
--  Skilled workers are persons capable of performing a job requiring at 
least two years' training or experience; 
 
--  Professionals with a baccalaureate degree are members of a 
profession with at least a university bachelor's degree;  and 
 
--  Other workers are those persons capable of filling positions 
requiring less than two years' training or experience. 
 
Employment Fourth Preference (E4) 
 
Special Immigrants receive 7.1 percent of the yearly worldwide limit.  
All such applicants must be the beneficiary of an approved I-360, 
Petition for Special Immigrant, except overseas employees of the U.S. 
Government who must use Form DS-1884.  There are six subgroups: 
 
--  Religious workers coming to carry on the vocation of a minister of 
religion, or to work in a professional capacity in a religious vocation, 
or to work for a tax-exempt organization affiliated with a religious 
denomination; 
 
--  Certain overseas employees of the U.S. Government; 
 
--  Former employees of the Panama Canal Company; 
 
--  Retired employees of international organizations; 
 
--  Certain dependents of international organization employees;  and 
 
--  Certain members of the U.S. Armed Forces.  
 
Employment Fifth Preference (E5) 
 
Employment Creation Investors receive 7.1 percent of the yearly 
worldwide limit.  All applicants must file a Form I-526, Immigrant 
Petition by Alien Entrepreneur, with the INS.  To qualify, an alien must 
invest between U.S. $500,000 and $1,000,000, depending on the employment 
rate in the geographical area, in a commercial enterprise in the United 
States which creates at least 10 new full-time jobs for U.S. citizens, 
permanent resident aliens, or other lawful immigrants, not including the 
investor and his or her family. 
 
LABOR CERTIFICATION 
 
A person whose occupation requires a labor certification must have 
prearranged employment in the United States. 
 
Individual Labor Certification 
 
The applicant must complete DOL Form ETA-750B, Statement of 
Qualifications of Alien, and send this completed form to the prospective 
employer who completes Form ETA-750A, Application for Alien Employment 
Certification, Offer of Employment.  The prospective employer submits 
both forms to the local office of the State Employment Service in the 
area in the United States where the work will be performed.  The 
employer will then be notified by the appropriate regional office of the 
DOL of its approval or disapproval. 
 
Schedule A Designation 
 
The Department of Labor has made a schedule of occupations for which it 
delegates authority to the INS to approve labor certifications.  
Schedule A, Group I, includes physical therapists and nurses.  Schedule 
A, Group II includes aliens of exceptional ability in the sciences and 
arts (except performing arts).  To apply for Schedule A designation, the 
employer must submit a completed, uncertified Form ETA-750 in duplicate 
to the INS along with the   I-140 petition. 
 
Labor Market Information Pilot Program 
 
The Immigration Act of 1990 provides for the DOL to establish a Labor 
Market Information Pilot Program which will define up to ten 
occupational classifications in which there are labor shortages.  For 
aliens within a listed shortage occupation, a labor certification will 
be deemed to have been issued for purposes of an employment-based 
immigrant petition.  The INS can provide further information. 
 
PETITION 
 
All intending immigrants who plan to base their immigrant visa 
application on employment in the United States must obtain an approved 
immigrant visa petition from the INS.  If a necessary labor 
certification is granted, the employer may then file a Form I-140, 
Petition for Prospective Immigrant Employee, with the INS for the 
appropriate employment-based preference category. 
 
VISA INELIGIBILITY / WAIVER 
 
The immigration laws of the United States, in order to protect the 
health, welfare, and security of the U.S., prohibit the issuance of a 
visa to certain applicants.  Examples of applicants who must be refused 
visas are those who:  have a communicable disease, or have a dangerous 
physical or mental disorder;  have committed serious criminal acts;  are 
terrorists, subversives, members of a totalitarian party, or former Nazi 
war criminals;  have used illegal means to enter the U.S.;  or are 
ineligible for citizenship.  Some former exchange visitors must live 
abroad for two years.  Physicians who intend to practice medicine  must 
pass a qualifying exam before receiving immigrant visas.  If found to be 
ineligible, the consular officer will  advise the applicant of any 
waivers. 
 
OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION 
 
Documents  for Visa Application 
 
All applicants must submit certain personal documents such as passports, 
birth certificates, police certificates, and other civil documents, as 
well as evidence that they will not become public charges in the United 
States.  The consular officer will inform visa applicants of the 
documents needed as their applications are processed. 
 
Medical Examinations 
 
Before the issuance of an immigrant visa, every applicant, regardless of 
age, must undergo a medical examination.  The examination will be 
conducted by a doctor designated by the consular officer.  The applicant 
must pay for the examination. 
 
Visa Fees 
 
The cost of each formal immigrant visa application is U.S. $170 for 
application and $30 for issuance.  Fees must be paid for each intending 
immigrant, regardless of age, and are not refundable.  Local currency 
equivalents are acceptable.  Fees should not be sent to the consular 
office unless requested specifically.  The INS charges additional fees 
for filing petitions. 
 
Numerical Limitations 
 
Whenever there are more qualified applicants for a category than there 
are available numbers, the category will be considered oversubscribed, 
and immigrant visas will be issued in the chronological order in which 
the petitions were filed until the numerical limit for the category is 
reached.  The filing date of a petition becomes the applicant's priority 
date.  Immigrant visas cannot be issued until an applicant's priority 
date is reached.  In certain heavily oversubscribed categories, there 
may be a waiting period of several years before a priority date is 
reached.  For the latest priority dates, call (202) 663-1541. 
 
Miscellaneous 
 
Since no advance assurances can be given that a visa will be issued, 
applicants are advised not to make any final travel arrangements, not to 
dispose of their property, and not to give up their jobs until visas 
have been issued to them.  An immigrant visa can be  valid for four 
months from issuance date. 
 
With few exceptions, a person born in the United States has a claim to 
U.S. citizenship.  Persons born in countries other than the U.S. may 
have a claim, under United States law, to U.S. nationality if either 
parent was: 
 
--   Born or naturalized in the U.S., or  
--   A U.S. citizen at the applicant's birth. 
 
Any applicant believing he or she may have a claim to United States 
citizenship should not apply for a visa until his or her citizenship has 
been determined by the consular office. 
 
FURTHER INQUIRIES 
 
Further information about the specific categories of immigrant visas 
listed above and which category a potential employee may fall under can 
be obtained from your local INS office.  Questions on the visa 
application procedures at the American consular office overseas should 
be addressed to that consular office. 
 
 
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF STATE 
PUBLICATION 10071 
Bureau of Consular Affairs 
Visas Services Directorate 
August  1995 


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