Every fiscal year, the government issues around 140,000 employment visas to those who qualify. To get one of these, you have to fall into one of the five preference categories. As their names suggest, these categories dictate what priority these visas take.
It’s a good idea to contact an immigration lawyer to make sure you’re taking the proper steps in obtaining an employment-based immigration visa. Below, we’ll cover the overview of each category, so you get a better idea of where you stand.
Employment First Preference (E1): Extraordinary Ability
The government issues E1 visas to those who fall into one of these three sub-categories.
- People with extraordinary ability in arts, science, athletics, business, etc. To fall into this category, you’ll have to have documents that show you’re at the top of your field. Unlike other categories, you don’t need a job offer if you fall into this group
- World-class professors and researchers who are internationally acclaimed also fall into this category. For this qualification, you must be entering the US to work at a university in your field
- International executives who have been employed by a US affiliate, branch, or subsidiary for at least one out of the last three years. These applicants need to be working in a managerial or executive position when they come to the US.
Employment Second Preference (E2): Exceptional Ability
This category is usually limited to those who fall just short of E1 visa consideration. Most E2 visa applicants have advanced degrees or exceptional ability in their field. You’ll have to have a job offer, and your future company will need to file a petition on your behalf. With the help of an immigration lawyer, you can file a self-petition as well.
Employment Third Preference (E3): Other Workers
E3 visas are where most of the rest of the applicants land. Skilled workers, professionals, and unskilled workers will all apply for E3 visas. To get one of these, you’ll have to have your prospective employer fill out an application on your behalf and obtain a labor certification from the Department of Labor.
Employment Fourth Preference (E4): Special Immigrants
The E4 visa covers special circumstances, such as former US employees who worked abroad. This category includes Iraqi and Afghan interpreters, as well as those who have helped the US armed forces in other capacities. These individuals must have been employed by the US for at least a year between 2003 and 2013.
Several other circumstances fall under the E4 visa, including those who the US has recruited to fight in our armed services. Religious workers and surviving spouses of deceased international employees can also apply for an E4 visa.
Employment Fifth Preference (E5): Immigrant Investors
The E5 category is much more narrow. If you’re applying for an E5 visa, chances are you already have a competent immigration attorney on your payroll. This category is reserved for immigrants who seek to make investments in enterprises in the US, creating jobs in the process.
Have any more questions about getting an employment-based immigration visa? Call Colavecchio and Colavecchio Law Office to schedule an appointment.