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Not all US work visas created equally

Immigrating to the United States and beginning a career is a dream for people from all over the world. The U.S. economy is growing and unemployment is low. However, getting a job in America as a foreigner takes some work.

To qualify for most U.S. work visas, you usually must already have a job offer. But depending on your career field, your country of origin, or your education level, you might be privy to certain visas.

Employment-based immigrant visas

While H-1B, L-1, O-1, and P-1 non-immigrant visas are for people who intend to live in the U.S. temporarily, the EB category of visas is for those who plan to live in the U.S. permanently. About 140,000 EB visas are available each year.

Within the EB visa category, there are five subgroups, known as preferences.

EB-1 visa

The EB-1 visa gives first preference to highly-talented and renowned people. To qualify for an EB-1 visa, you must have "extraordinary ability," be a celebrated professor or researcher, or be a foreign executive for a multinational firm.

EB-2 visa

The EB-2 visa gives second preference to professionals holding advanced degrees (Masters or higher OR Bachelors with at least five years of experience in their field), and for people with "exceptional abilities in the sciences, arts or business."

To qualify for an EB-2 visa, you will likely need a labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. Alternatively, you may waive the labor certification and self-petition if your proposed endeavor would be in the "national interest."

EB-3 visa

The EB-3 visa gives third preference to skilled workers (those requiring at least two years of training and work experience for their jobs), professionals with at least a bachelor's degree or its foreign equivalent, and to unskilled workers.

To qualify for an EB-3 visa, you must already have a job offer in the U.S. and a labor certification. At least 28.6 percent of the annual employment visas go to EB-3s.

EB-4 visa

The EB-4 visa covers a wide variety of individuals in specific situations. It includes broadcasters, former employees of the Panama Canal Company, retired NATO civilians, religious ministers, and Iraqis and Afghans who served as translators for the U.S. military or provided other services, to name a few.

These special types of immigrants receive 7.1 of the yearly visas.

EB-5 visa

The EB-5 visa is for foreign investors building new business in the United States and emphasizes job creation.

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Washington, DC 20006

Phone: 202-798-7328
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