Permanent Residence through
One of the most common methods for obtaining permanent resident status in the United States is through an offer of permanent employment by a U.S. employer. Before applying for permanent resident status (either at a U.S. consulate abroad or at the local Immigration office), an immigrant visa petition must first be filed with and approved by the regional office of the Department of Homeland Security's - Citizen & Immigration Service (CIS).
This web page provides a basic summary of the various categories for employment sponsorship.
The law provides strict guidelines as to the specific requirements necessary for an offer of employment to fall within each of the categories. The alien must also meet certain criteria to qualify for a particular category.
First Preference Category
(labor certification is NOT required):
- Outstanding professors and researchers.
- Although the labor certification process altogether can be avoided , the alien has to
- prove that either he/she is found best qualified ( in the case of a tenured teaching
- professor ) or he/she was the minimally qualified worker available under the normal
- labor certification process ( in the case of other professors and researchers ).
- Further requirements are :
- - being "outstanding": That means that the alien must fulfill two out of six requirements
- given by a list.
- - having teaching or research experience for at least three years.
- - presenting a job offer for an appropriate position.
- Individuals of "extraordinary ability" in the arts, sciences, education, business, or athletics.
- For this category, neither a labor certification nor a job offer is required. The individual
- has just to show his/her "extraordinary ability":
- That means that he/she must belong to that small percentage of persons who are at the
- very top of the field of endeavor, e.g. having received a major, internationally recognized
- award, like the Nobel Prize.
- Certain multinational executives and managers.
- This type of visa doesn't require a labor certification or specific educational credentials
- at all. It is just demanded that the alien permanently worked with a U.S. business' parent,
- subsidiary, affiliate, or home office abroad for at least one year within the preceding
- three years as executive or manager.
Second Preference Category
(labor certification required, unless waived in the national interest):
- Individuals with "exceptional ability" in the sciences, arts, or business.
- This "exceptional ability" can again be shown by fulfilling three requirements given in a special
- list of six.
- Professionals holding advanced degrees, a degree beyond a four-year baccalaureate).
- For this category it should be noted that the CIS allows work experience as a substitute for an
- advanced degree; however, a U.S. baccalaureate or a foreign equivalent remains necessary.
- s sufficient work experience, five years of progressive work in the specialty may be enough.
Waiver in the national interest
The job offer requirement and, therefore, the labor certification can be waived in the national interest. It has to be considered on the facts of each case, if an alien comes to the U.S. for the purpose of working in the national interest. The definition of 'national interest' is quite complicated and has been the focus of several lawsuits.
Third Preference Category
(labor certification required):
- Professionals holding a minimum of a bachelor's degree;
- Skilled workers with at least two years of training or experience;
- Unskilled workers with less than two years of training.
Fourth Preference Category
This category is quite complicated and is rarely used, it includes:
- Religious workers;
- Other 'special' immigrants.
Fifth Preference Category
- Investors in new commercial enterprises. (No offer of employment is required for this category. It is dependent upon a direct investment in the U.S. economy of $1,000,000, or $500,000 if invested in a targeted area.)
- Besides, the following requirements are established for this category:
- - creating at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. citizens or immigrants ( five if an
- investment of $500,000 is considered to be sufficient ).
- - having a "commercial enterprise": This allows any kind of business organization like
- corporation, general or limited partnership, joint venture etc.
- - having a "new" business: This includes the creation of an original business, the
- purchase, restructure or reorganization of an existing business or even the expansion if
- it results in a 40% increase.
- - having invested with lawfully acquired money, but not necessarily money from
RO:09/95 - CA:08/97 - NZ/KC:08/01 - FC/PW:09/07
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