Family and Employment Visas

Family Based Immigrant Visas

A foreign national may be petitioned by a family member for the purposes of obtaining a green card. There are two types of family based petitions, Immediate Relative Petitions and those subject to the visa bulletin waiting periods. 

Immediate relatives include unmarried children under the age of 21, spouses, and parents of United States citizens. Immediate relatives are not subject to any waiting periods or numerical limitations.  Eligibility for an immediate relative petition does not automatically transfer into eligibility for a green card. Therefore a consultation with an experienced attorney from LA Legal Advocates is recommendable to determine full eligibility for benefits.

All other classification for family based petitions fall under the visa bulletin.  Section 201 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) sets an annual minimum family-sponsored preference limit of 226,000.  The visa bulletin is divided under four preferences of different family classifications:

  •  First: (F1) Unmarried Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
  •  Second: Spouses and Children, and Unmarried Sons and Daughters of Permanent Residents

(F2A) Spouses and Children of Permanent Residents: 

(F2B) Unmarried Sons and Daughters (21 years of age or older) of Permanent Residents

  • Third: (F3) Married Sons and Daughters of U.S. Citizens
  • Fourth: (F4) Brothers and Sisters of Adult U.S. Citizens

Employment Based Immigrant Visas

The Immigration and Nationality Act provides a yearly minimum of 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas which are divided into five preference categories. They may require a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), and the filing of a petition with United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security (USCIS).

EB-1 Preference category consists of (1) persons of extraordinary ability, (2) outstanding professors and researchers and (3) executives and managers of multinational employers.

  • Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics must have extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in the 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 in which they have extraordinary ability. Such applicants can file their own petition with the USCIS, rather than through an employer.
  • For outstanding professors and researchers to qualify they require experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally. No labor certification is required for this classification, but the prospective employer must provide a job offer and file a petition with the USCIS
  • Certain executives and managers who have been employed at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer qualify under this category. 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 file a petition with the USCIS.

EB-2 Preference category consists of (1) persons of exceptional ability and (2) persons holding advanced degrees or its equivalent.

  •  All Second Preference applicants must have a labor certification approved by the DOL, or Schedule A designation, or establish that they qualify for one of the shortage occupations in the Labor Market Information Pilot Program. A job offer is required and the U.S. employer must file a petition on behalf of the applicant. Aliens may apply for exemption from the job offer and labor certification if the exemption would be in the national interest, in which case the alien may file the petition, Form I-140, along with evidence of the national interest.

EB-3 Preference category consists of (1) professionals, (2) skilled workers (3) unskilled workers. 

  • Skilled Workers, Professionals Holding Baccalaureate Degrees and Other Workers require an approved I-140 petition filed by the prospective employer. All such workers require a labor certification, or Schedule A designation, or evidence that they qualify for one of the shortage occupations in the Labor Market Information Pilot Program.

EB-4 Preference category consists of religious workers and other special immigrants

  • All such applicants must be the beneficiary of an approved I-360, Petition for Special Immigrant, except overseas employees of the U.S. Government who must use Form DS-1884. Certain spouses and children may accompany or follow-to-join the principal special immigrant.

EB-5 Preference category consists of investors

  • In order to qualify, an alien must invest between U.S. $500,000 and $1,000,000, depending on the employment rate in the geographical area, in a commercial enterprise in the United States which creates at least 10 new full-time jobs for U.S. citizens, permanent resident aliens, or other lawful immigrants, not including the investor and his or her family.