IMMIGRANT STATUS: EMPLOYMENT‑BASED
Generally either a close family relative or an employer must sponsor someone for immigration. The first method relies on a close tie to a U.S. citizen or permanent resident. If a foreign national does not have such a relative, he/she might qualify under one of the employment‑based categories. Currently the Immigration & Nationality Act sets an annual limit of 226,000 immigrant “preference” numbers for family‑based categories, and 143,949 immigrant “preference” numbers for employment‑based categories. The per-country limit for preference immigrants is now 25,896.
Outstanding Professors & Researchers Managers & Executives
Advanced Degree Professionals
Professionals (Bachelors degree)
Skilled Workers (two years training)
Other Workers (unskilled)
Special Immigrants (religious workers)
Employment-based First Preference
The first subgroup of the priority worker category is reserved for applicants with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. The CIS considers “extraordinary ability” to be a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of a few who have risen to the top of his/her field. The petitioner must demonstrate extraordinary ability through extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim, and that the foreign national’s achievements have been recognized by others in the field of expertise. The regulations provide a list of criteria for guidance, which are summarized below: § Major prizes or awards.§ Memberships in organizations which require outstanding achievement.§ Cites to or articles about the individual’s work.§ Participation as a judge of the work of others.§ Evidence of original scientific, scholastic, artistic, athletic or business‑related contributions.§ Authorship of scholarly articles.§ Artistic exhibitions or showcases.§ Performance in a leading or cultural role for organizations that have a distinguished reputation.§ High salary in relation to others in the field.§ Commercial success in the performing arts.§ Other comparable evidence.
2. Outstanding Professors or Researchers
The second subgroup of the priority worker category is reserved for certain professors or researchers who are internationally recognized as being outstanding in specific academic areas. The applicant must have at least three years teaching or research experience. Under certain conditions the CIS will count teaching or research experience gained while working toward an advanced degree. The individual must either be (a) in a tenure‑track position teaching or conducting research at a university, or (b) in a research position with a private employer who employs at least three full‑time researchers and who has achieved documented accomplishments in the academic field. As with extraordinary ability, the petitioner must demonstrate outstanding ability through extensive documentation showing international recognition in the field. The regulations provide a list of criteria for guidance, which are similar to extraordinary ability: § Major prizes or awards.§ Membership in organizations which require outstanding achievement.§ Cites to or articles about the individual’s work.§ Participation as a judge of the work of others.§ Evidence of original scientific research.§ Authorship of scholarly articles or books
3. Multinational Executives and Managers
The third subcategory of priority workers is reserved for certain executives and managers of multinational companies. To be eligible the manager or executive must have been employed at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas parent, subsidiary, affiliate, or branch of the U.S. employer. They must have filled a position in a managerial or executive capacity for at least one year, and be coming to the U.S. to fill a position in a similar capacity. The petitioner must document that the proper relationship exists between the two entities. In some cases a joint‑venture may be acceptable to the CIS. In situations where there is less than 50% ownership, there might be equal control and veto power. The CIS definition of “managerial capacity” includes both managers of an organization and managers of a function; however, first line supervisors are not considered managers unless the employees they supervise are also professionals.
This subcategory requires the professional to have at least a Master’s degree or equivalent. An advanced degree means any degree higher than a Baccalaureate degree. The CIS will also consider an applicant who has a Baccalaureate degree plus five years of progressive experience in the profession to be equivalent to a Master’s degree. Note that to require five years of experience in a job offer for purposes of labor certification may conflict with minimum job standards set by the Department of Labor. For this reason it may not always be possible to include an individual’s full experience to meet the advanced degree category.
2. Exceptional Ability
This subcategory is reserved for those who have “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts or business, and who will substantially benefit prospectively the national economy, cultural or educational interests, or welfare of the United States. The CIS is looking for a level of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the field. It is lower than the “extraordinary ability” standard, and has different guidelines:
Degree relating to area of exceptional ability.
Ten years of experience.
High salary in relation to others in the field.
Membership in professional associations.
Recognition for achievements and significant contributions.
Other comparable evidence.