The United States is known for extending its welcome to workers from all over the world — 140,000 per fiscal year, to be exact. Before one can secure one of the four employment-based visas available in the U.S., he or she must first be sorted into one of five categories that determine eligibility. These categories include:

  • E-1: Employment first preference is granted to priority workers, which are those who hold “extraordinary ability.” This ability may be in one of the following areas: science, the arts, business, education, or athletics. Only 40,000 (or 28.6 percent) are accepted into this category yearly.
  • E-2: Employment second preference is granted to those who hold advanced degrees, or who have demonstrated outstanding skill in the arts, sciences, or in business. Only 40,000 (or 28.6 percent) are accepted into this category yearly.
  • E-3: Employment third preference is granted to skilled workers with a minimum of two years of experience, professionals who hold college degrees, and unskilled workers in non-seasonal industries. Only 40,000 (or 28.6 percent) are accepted into this category yearly, with the exception of unskilled laborers, for which the limit is 5,000.
  • E-4: Employment fourth preference is granted to “special immigrants.” This group includes religious workers, United States foreign post employees, translators, former and U.S. government employees. Only 10,000 (or 7.1 percent) are accepted into this category yearly.
  • E-5: Employment fifth preference is granted to investors of $500,000 to $1 million in a company responsible for creating 10 or more full-time U.S. jobs. Only 10,000 (or 7.1 percent) are accepted into this category yearly.

Depending on the category an individual falls under, he or she will be given a priority date in accordance with the level of preference. When that date comes, one can submit an application for an employment-based visa, including:

  • H-1B: Granted to those working in “specialty occupations,” with 85,000 being awarded per year — 65,000 for those without advanced degrees and 20,000 for those with a master’s degree or higher from the U.S. These visas are valid for up to three years, with the option to extend up to six.
  • H-2A: Granted to seasonal laborers in the field of agriculture, but only accepted from specified countries. Visas eligible for an extension for a maximum of three years.
  • H-2B: Workers in seasonal industries, excluding agriculture. Only 66,000 are awarded per year, each for a period of less than a year with the option to renew twice for a total of three years or less.
  • L-1A and L-1B: Granted to those who hold current foreign employment that holds a connection to a U.S. employer. These visas can be utilized for up to three years, with the option of extending L-1B visas for up to five years, and L-1A visas for up to seven years.

The process of coming to live and work in a new country (and more importantly, doing so legally) can often be difficult to navigate. For this reason, a Miami immigration attorney at Pimentel & Castillo ensures the client understands each intricate detail of the process involved by providing exceptional guidance every step of the way. This approach, coupled with unequaled knowledge of immigration laws, can be credited for the firm’s track record of successfully helping its clients seek work in the United States.

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