Immigrant visas: EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4 & EB-5
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- The first preference priority workers (EB-1) are further divided into three subcategories:
- Persons of extraordinary ability;
- Outstanding professors and researchers; and
- Multinational executives and managers.
Available visas are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.
The Second Preference (EB-2)
The second preference category (EB-2) is for members of the profession holding advanced degrees or individuals of exceptional ability.
- This category is divided into two subcategories:
- Workers who hold advanced degrees or their equivalent for their profession, and
- Workers who because have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, and can greatly benefit the national economy, cultural /educational interests, or welfare of the country.
The EB-2 classification includes athletics.
The Third Preference (EB-3)
The third preference workers are for professionals, skilled workers and other workers.
- This category is divided into three subcategories:
- Workers who are considered skilled and have two years' experience minimum
- Professionals who have a baccalaureate degree
- Any other workers who may have under two years of experience
There is a significant backlog in EB-3 visas for noncitizens from every country in the world. Visa alternatives should be considered before seeking EB-3 classification. It may be necessary to file two immigrant petitions instead, such as an EB-1 worker and an EB-2 worker petition, as the regulations don't limit the amount of petitions you have filed on your behalf at any time, maximizing your opportunities for approval.
The Fourth Preference (EB-4)
This preference is for “special immigrant” visas. The categories include religious workers, Panama Canal Treaty employees, Amerasian children, some employees of U.S. foreign-service posts abroad, some retired employees of international organizations admitted to the U.S. under the G-4 non-immigrant visa, and dependents of juvenile courts.
The Fifth Preference (EB-5)
This preference is for employment-creation or investor visas. It provides conditional residency for those who, after November 29, 1990, invest $1 million in a new commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers. Conditional residency means that the beneficiary receives temporary residency for a two-year period, at which time an application is made to remove the condition and grant permanent residence. Within 90 days of the anniversary of the grant of conditional resident status, the person may request that the condition be removed so that he or she will become an Lawful Permanent Resident. In order to receive permanent residence, the applicant must have substantially met the capital investment requirement.
A lesser investment of $500,000 may qualify the investor if the investment is in one of the targeted employment areas. These include rural areas with populations of less than 20,000, or locations that have experienced unemployment at 150 percent of the national average.
Under the Departments of Commerce, Justice, and State, the Judiciary, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 1993, a pilot investor program was established that relaxes the standards for the investor. The pilot program permits investments through “regional centers” with a relaxed job-creation requirement. The regional centers apply to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), demonstrating how the program will promote economic growth. Upon approval, a foreign investor’s investment in one of these centers may qualify him or her for the immigrant visa. Of the 10,000 EB-5 visas available annually, 5,000 are set aside for those who apply under the pilot program.