Employment-Based Permanent Residence Petitions

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas yearly. These available visas are divided into five preference categories. Most employment-based permanent residence petitions require the submission of USCIS Form I-140. The following is a general introduction to the five preference categories.

The First Employment-based Preference for “priority workers”(EB-1)

Priority Workers receive 28.6 percent of the annual worldwide limit (about 40,000 visas). All Priority Workers must be the beneficiaries of an approved Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Foreign Workers.

There are three sub-groups in this category:

    1. EB-1(a): Persons of “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business, and athletics. To qualify as “extraordinary”, applicants in this category must submit extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in their field of expertise. Such applicants do not have to have a specific job offer so long as they are entering the U.S. to continue work in the field for which they are recognized to have extraordinary ability. A labor certification is also not required. The applicant (alien) may petition on his or her own behalf.
    2. EB-1(b): Outstanding Professors and Researchers. To qualify as an Outstanding professor/researcher, the applicant must have at least three years’ experience in teaching or research and must be recognized internationally as outstanding in his/her field of endeavor. No labor certification is required for this classification, but the prospective employer (universities or private employers that have established research departments) must provide a job offer and serve as the petitioner in the I-140 petition.
    3. EB-1(c): Certain executives and managers subject to an international transfer to the United States. The applicant must have been employed for at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of aU.S. employer. The applicant must be coming to work in a managerial or executive capacity. No labor certification is required for this classification, but the prospective employer must provide a job offer and serve as the petitioner in the I-140 petition.

For a detailed discussion about qualifying for permanent residence in the first employment-based preference, please see EB-1.

The Second Employment-Based preference (EB-2)

There are two subgroups within this category: Professionals holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree) or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years’ progressive experience in the profession; and Persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business. Exceptional ability means having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered within the field. This preference receives 28.6 percent of the yearly worldwide limit (about 40,000 annual visas, plus any unused Employment First Preference visas.) PERM Labor Certification and a job offer are required for this category unless the job offer is waived by the USCIS in the national interest, the job fits in a Schedule A designation, or the alien establishes that he/she qualifies for one of the deficient occupations in the Labor Market Information Pilot Program which will be discussed later in this article,


  • Official academic record showing that you have a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning relating to  your area of exceptional ability
  • Letters documenting at least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation
  • A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation
  • Evidence that you have commanded a salary or other remuneration for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability
  • Membership in a professional association(s)
  • Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations
  • Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.

Family of EB-2 Visa Holders

Your spouse and children under the age of 18 may be admitted to the United States in E-21 and E-22 immigrant status, respectively. During the process where you and your spouse are applying for permanent resident status (status as a green card holder), your spouse is eligible to file for an Employment Authorization Document (EAD).