Immigrant Visas

Immigrant Visas / Permanent Residents

Each year approximately 140,000 immigrant visas are issued for foreign nationals (and their spouses and children) who are immigrating to the United States through employment based immigration.  There are five employment based preference categories.  If you have the right combination of skills, education, and/or work experience and are otherwise eligible, you may be able to live permanently in the United States. The five employment-based immigrant visa preferences (categories) are listed below.   Due to the numerical limitations on employment based visas, there may not be a visa immediately available in the category in which you are sponsored.  You can check the current availability of visa at the monthly visa bulletin at

Labor Certification

For most employment sponsored immigration for permanent residency, your employer must obtain an approved Labor Certification from the US Department of Labor (DOL).  Before approving the Labor certification, the DOL verifies that there are insufficient available, qualified and willing US workers to fill the position being offered at the prevailing wage and hiring a foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers.

Immigrant Visa Categories

First Preference EB-1 –persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors or researchers; and multinational executives and managers.  No Labor Certification Required.

Second Preference EB-2 –persons who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or for persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business.  Labor Certification required unless applicant can obtain a national interest waiver

Third Preference EB-3 – professionals, skilled workers, and other workers. These positions require at least two years of experience or a Bachelor’s degree.   Labor Certification is required

Fourth Preference EB-4 – reserved for “special immigrants,” which includes certain religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, retired employees of international organizations, alien minors who are wards of courts in the United States, and other classes of aliens. No Labor Certification Required.

 Fifth Preference EB-5 – reserved for business investors who invest $1 million or $500,000 (if the investment is made in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers.  No Labor Certification Required.