Historically, immigrants have come to the United States seeking freedom and safety from persecution. They have also, of course, sought employment. Every year, approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are granted to qualified applicants under U.S. immigration law. These are distributed according to five categories of employment visas.

E1  Employment First Preference

More than 25 percent of employment-based visas distributed in this country annually are in this category. They cover individuals in three subcategories:

  • Those with extraordinary ability in arts, education, sciences, business or athletics
  • Outstanding professors and researchers
  • Multinational managers or executives

In spite of the similarities among these subcategories, each requires that its applicants meet distinctive criteria:  

Individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics must provide wide-ranging evidence of enduring national and/or international acclaim and recognition in their area of expertise. Though it is not necessary that they present specific job offers, they must provide documentation verifying that they are entering the U.S. to continue to work in their field.

Outstanding professors and researchers must at least 3 years of experience in teaching and/or research, and must also be able to prove international recognition. Individuals applying for this category of employment-based visa must prove that they are coming to the U.S. to pursue tenure-track teaching or to assume a research position at a university or other institution of higher learning. Individuals in this subcategory must also provide evidence that they have been offered a job in the United States.

Multinational managers or executives who want to reside in the U.S. for an extended period of time have to:

  • Have been employed for at least 1 of the 3 preceding years by an overseas branch office, overseas affiliate, parent company, or subsidiary of a U.S. company
  • Have occupied a managerial or executive position at home and be coming to work in a similar capacity in the U.S.
  • Must provide proof of a job offer by a prospective employer

E-2   Employment Second Preference

In order to obtain an E2 visa, an applicant must be able to provide evidence of a verifiable job offer in addition to proving that he/she is a professional of exceptional ability who holds an advanced degree is his/her area of expertise or who holds a baccalaureate degree plus 5 years of advanced experience. Exceptions may be made for an employee designated as favorable to the national interest, in which case he or she may self-petition for a National Interest Waiver. E-2 visas represent more than a quarter of employment-based immigrant visas distributed annually.

E3  Employment Third Preference

To meet the requirements for an E3 visa, applicants must have labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. More than a quarter of annual employment-based immigrant visas distributed are in this category. The subcategories of third preference applicants are:

  • Skilled workers (not temporary or seasonal) whose jobs require at least 2 years of training or experience
  • Professionals whose occupations require at least a baccalaureate degree from a U.S. or foreign institution of higher learning
  • Unskilled workers (not temporary or seasonal) whose positions require less than 2 years of training or experience

E4  Employment Fourth Preference

Although E4 visas are used by a great number of subgroups, they are only distributed to about 7 percent of employment-based immigrants annually. Subcategories eligible for E4 visas include, among other groups:

  • Broadcasters in the U.S. employed by International Broadcasting Bureau of Governors
  • Religious leaders and workers
  • Foreign employees of the U.S. government abroad
  • Iraqi and Afghan interpreters or translators
  • Iraqi/ Afghan nationals who have faithfully served while employed by the the U.S.
  • Retired international organization employees, their surviving spouses and children
  • Immigrant juveniles
  • Recruits from outside the U.S. who have enlisted or served in the U.S. Armed Forces
  • Retired NATO-6 civilians, their unmarried children and surviving spouses
  • Beneficiaries of petitions filed prior to 9/11 whose petitions were voided by the attack

E5  Employment Fifth Preference

Because of the wide variety of employment-based immigrant visas, and the complexities involving their requirements, it is essential that you have the professional assistance of a capable employment based immigration attorney, like Laura Talamantes, of Talamantes Immigration Law Firm, APC, when you seek such a visa. Talamantes Immigration Law Firm, who will always treat you with dignity and compassion, can be reached at 619.916.4570. Talamantes Immigration Law Firm works with clients in Chula Vista, Lemon Grove, National City, San Ysidro, Imperial Beach and Bonita.