Overview (Adapted from the Department of Labor website.) A permanent labor certification issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) allows an employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the United States. In most instances, before the U.S. employer can submit an immigration petition to the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the employer must obtain a certified labor certification application from the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA).
(Adapted from the Department of State website.) Employment based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories. Certain spouses and children may accompany or follow-to-join employment-based immigrants.
Employment First Preference (E1): Priority WorkersA First Preference applicant must be the beneficiary of an approved Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker, Form I-140, filed with USCIS. Labor certification is not required for any of the Priority Worker subgroups. There are three sub-groups within this category:
- Persons with extraordinary ability
- Outstanding professors and researchers
- Multinational managers or executives
Employment Second Preference (E2): Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional AbilityA Second Preference applicant must generally have a labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. A job offer is required and the U.S. employer must file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, on behalf of the applicant. Applicants may apply for an exemption, known as a National Interest Waiver, from the job offer and labor certification if the exemption would be in the national interest. There are two subgroups within this category:
- Professionals holding an advanced degree
- Persons with exceptional ability
Employment Third Preference (E3): Skilled Workers, Professionals and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)A Third Preference applicant must have an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, filed by the prospective employer. All such workers generally require labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. There are three subgroups within this category:
- Skilled workers
- Unskilled workers (Other workers)
There are two other EB categories for special immigrants and investors but the majority of the employment based visas are given to applicants who apply to the above categories.