Employment-based (EB) visas can be a great option for people who are interested in immigrating to the United States. This path to citizenship allows people to get their lawful permanent resident (green) card so they can legally live and work in the United States until they become citizens.

EB visas are coveted and difficult to get. Though many people can qualify on paper, only a limited number of EB visas are issued each year, and getting one can be a long, complicated process. Here’s what you need to know about qualifying for an EB visa so you can decide on your next steps.

What Are the Categories of EB Visas?

Because the government prefers to issue work visas to people who will provide value to the American economy, EB visas are issued based largely on a person’s abilities and education. If you have an in-demand skill set and an advanced degree, you will be more likely to have your application for a permanent visa accepted.

There are five tiers or categories of EB visas:

  • EB-1–People with “extraordinary” abilities in a range of disciplines, like science, art, athletics, and business.
  • EB-2–People with advanced degrees or equivalent work experience, especially in any in-demand fields.
  • EB-3–People who hold a bachelor’s degree or laborers with an offer of permanent employment.
  • EB-4–People with special, miscellaneous designations, ranging from certain religious workers to wards of the court.
  • EB-5–People who have the means and intent to fund a new organization employing at least 10 people.

Many EB visa categories require employer sponsorship. This means that you must already have a job offer in the United States. Only EB-1 applicants can petition on their own behalf.

What Do Employers Need to Prove?

For EB visas requiring an employer petition, the visa applicant’s sponsor must prove that they have done their due diligence in recruiting and found that they are unable to find a suitable U.S. candidate for the position. This is known as labor certification and its purpose is to give U.S. residents preference in the hiring process. Employers must also show that they can afford to hire the visa applicant for at least a year.

Is it Worth Applying for an EB Visa?

Employer sponsorship is only the first step. Getting an EB visa is a challenging process for most people who apply. With only a limited number available and slow processing times, getting an employment-based visa isn’t always the most realistic option.

With that said, you might have other immigration options if you are unlikely to get an EB visa. It’s a good idea to talk with an immigration lawyer about the EB visa process and other alternatives if you want to move you and your family to the United States. To learn more, call our Hackensack, New Jersey law firm at (201) 883-9800 to speak with our experienced immigration attorney.