Business and Employment-Based Work Visas & Green Cards

immigration lawyer us work visa

Business and Employment-based Work Visas

The U.S. fiscal year begins October 1st and ends September 30th of the following calendar year. During this time, 140,000 work visas are available for issuance to candidates who meet the required qualifications. Five preference categories are used to organize and prioritize work visa applications. Children and spouses of the worker can also be granted a visa. Before applying to immigrate as an alien worker, the foreign citizen must first obtain approval from the Department of Labor.

People who possess an extraordinary ability in their field are given the highest preference for entrance. In addition, highly skilled and educated professionals are given the next highest preference for entrance. Temporary worker visas may also be issued and are based on country of origin and worker qualifications. Understanding what category you may eligible for, as well as how to most efficiently complete the application and employment verification process involves assistance from an immigration law firm.

Temporary Work Visas

There are many different temporary employment-based visa classifications, or work visas. Work visa categories have varying eligibility requirements, lengths of time, conditions for dependents such as spouse and minor children, and other factors. Below are some common work visa types that our law office provides representation for.

Work Visa TypeEligibility
E-1 VisasTreaty Traders that own or work for a company that conducts more than 50% of its worldwide trade with the United States, and specialized knowledge employees.
E-2 VisasTreaty Investors that own and operate a company in the United States based on significant investment, and specialized knowledge employees.
E-3 VisasAustralian specialty occupation workers in the United States
H-1B VisasSpecialty occupation workers in the United States
L-1 VisasIntra-company transferees that work in the United States as executives, managers, and specialized knowledge employees.
O-1 VisasPersons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, business, education, or athletics.
TN VisasWork Visas for Canadians and Mexicans for certain professional occupations under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

Permanent Employment-Based Preference System

Preference CategoryEligibilityAnnual Numerical Limit
EB-1 Priority WorkersPersons of extraordinary
ability” in the arts, science,
education, business, or
athletics; outstanding
professors and
researchers; multinational
managers and executives.
40,000* or 28.6%
EB-2 Professional with
Advanced Degrees or
Exceptional Ability
Members of the
professions holding
advanced degrees, or
persons of exceptional
abilities in the arts,
science, or business.
40,000** or 28.6%
EB-3 Skilled Workers,
Professionals, and
Unskilled Workers
Skilled workers with at
least two years of
training or experience,
professionals with college
degrees, or “other”
workers for unskilled
labor that is not
temporary or seasonal.
40,000*** or 28.6%
“Other” unskilled
laborers restricted to
EB-4 Certain Special
Certain “special
immigrants” including
religious workers,
employees of U.S. foreign
service posts, translators,
former U.S. government
employees, and other classes of noncitizens.
10,000 or 7.1%
EB-5 Immigrant InvestorsPersons who will invest

$500,000 to $1
million in a job-creating
enterprise that
employs at least 10 full-
time U.S. workers.
10,000 or 7.1%

*Plus any unused visas from the 4th and 5th preferences
**Plus any unused visas from the 1st preference
***Plus any unused visas the 1st and 2nd preference

Total Employment-Based Immigrants:   140,000 for principals and their dependents


Numerical Limits and Per-Country Limits

In addition to the annual numerical limit on the number of employment-based immigrant visas, each country is limited to 7% of the worldwide level of U.S. immigrant admissions, known as per-country limits. Because of numerical and per- country limits, and because in some preference categories there are more petitions each year than visas available, some individuals must wait a significant period of time to apply for adjustment of status (in the U.S.) or an immigrant visa (abroad) even after USCIS approves the employer’s petition.