For individuals with lawful employment in the U.S., job offers from prospective U.S. employers, or — in some cases — those with no job offers who would like to work in the U.S. permanently there may be employment-based permanent resident options for you! In total, there are 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas available every year in the U.S. and these visas are divided into five-preference categories. This thread is the first of a series regarding employment-based categories. Let’s get started!

The First Employment-based Preference category is for “priority workers,” known as EB-1. EB-1 Workers receive about 40,000 of the annual worldwide limit of employment-based visas (28.6 percent) and are divided into three sub-groups:

EB-1(a): Persons of “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business, and athletics. To qualify as “extraordinary”, an applicant must show the government that they have sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in their field of expertise. If you fall within this category, you don’t need a job offer to apply for an EB-1; however, you do need to be entering the U.S. to continue working in your field of “extraordinary ability.” No labor certification is required for this category and the applicant may petition on his or her own behalf. An EB-1(a) example might be the following: German players from the recent world cup champion team may petition themselves for an EB-1 if the players were looking to live permanently in the U.S. and work and play for Major League Soccer (MLS). A doubtful scenario but perhaps a doable “feet”!

EB-1(b): Outstanding Professors and Researchers. To qualify as an outstanding professor/researcher, the applicant must be recognized internationally as outstanding in their field and have at least three years of experience. Again, no labor certification is required, but unlike the applicants with “extraordinary ability,” the potential employer must provide a job offer and serve as the petitioner. An EB-1(b) example might be a university with a solid research department petitioning the French “Carl Sagan” to help their struggling astronomy department!

EB-1(c): Certain executives and managers who need an international transfer to the United States. This category is one utilized often by persons in the U.S. on an L-1A (a temporary visa for intra-company executive transferees coming to work in the United States) but EB-1(c) is not exclusive to just them! To qualify, the applicant must have been employed for at least one of the previous three years by a U.S. company’s overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary or branch. Furthermore, the applicant must be coming to work in the U.S. as a manager or executive. Again, no labor certification is required for this classification but the potential employer must provide a job offer and serve as the petitioner. An EB-1(c) example might be a Vietnamese executive working for at least one of the past three years for Nike in Ho Chi Minh City and looking to work for Nike as an executive in Beaverton, OR.

The road to an employment-based green card is difficult. Always talk to a qualified immigration attorney before you begin your journey toward an employment-based green card. Check back soon for a discussion on the four remaining Employment-based Preference categories!