Employment based immigration may include applications for non-immigrant visas to allow non-citizens to work legally in the U.S. followed by the PERM labor certification process or other visa petitions filed in an effort to obtain residence. Non-citizens seeking to permanently enter the U.S. workforce through employer sponsorship are generally not eligible for residence until such time as the U.S. Department of Labor certifies that he or she will not displace nor adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers who are similarly employed. There are exceptions to this rule for individuals of “extra-ordinary” ability or whose work is deemed to be in the “national interest.” Regardless of the process, employment based immigrants are subject to backlogs similar to those in the family based visa categories. The preference categories and numerical limitations as set forth on the Visa Bulletin from the U.S. Department of State are defined as follows:
First: Priority Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required for fourth and fifth preferences.
Second: Members of the Professions Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability: 28.6% of the worldwide employment-based preference level, plus any numbers not required by first preference.
Third: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers: 28.6% of the worldwide level, plus any numbers not required by first and second preferences, not more than 10,000 of which to “*Other Workers”.
Fourth: Certain Special Immigrants: 7.1% of the worldwide level.
Fifth: Employment Creation: 7.1% of the worldwide level, not less than 3,000 of which reserved for investors in a targeted rural or high-unemployment area, and 3,000 set aside for investors in regional centers by Sec. 610 of Pub. L. 102-395.
Immigration for employment based immigrants can take many years depending on the preference ranking and the country of birth. The most current online visa bulletin gives those who are waiting an idea of how long the wait is before they can apply for either adjustment of status in the United States or an immigrant visa. The link to the Visa Bulletin can be found on this website under “useful links.”