U.S. Visa Types Explained

U.S. visa types are divided into two broad categories - immigrant and nonimmigrant visas.

Nonimmigrant visas are only valid for a set period of time. Meanwhile, immigrant visas allow you to secure a Green Card and become a permanent resident in the United States.

One of the main routes to securing permanent residency for foreign nationals is qualifying for one of the employment-based (E.B.) visa categories.

This article provides a breakdown of the five employment-based U.S. visa types.

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EB-1 Visa

The EB-1 Visa is a U.S. employment-based first-preference visa. This type of visa is reserved for those who excel in their chosen field.

There are three EB-1 visa types:

  • EB-1A: Extraordinary ability
  • EB-1B: Outstanding professors and researchers
  • EB-1C: Multinational executives and managers

Each EB-1 category has its own set of criteria that applicants must meet to qualify. Below is an overview of the requirements for each EB-1 visa type.

  • EB-1A: Demonstrate an extraordinary ability in a field such as science, education, art, business or athletics.
  • EB-1B: Demonstrate outstanding achievements in an academic field with three years of teaching or research experience in that field.
  • EB-1C: Applicants must have been employed abroad in a managerial or executive role for at least one of the three years before applying.

Visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website for more information about the EB-1 visa.

EB-2 Visa

The EB-2 Visa is an employment-based second-preference visa. This type of visa is typically for those with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in their field.

There are three subcategories under the EB-2 Visa:

  • EB-2A: This is for those with an advanced degree, such as a bachelor’s degree (baccalaureate degree). You will also need at least five years of progressive work experience in the field.
  • EB-2B: This is for those with exceptional ability in a particular area, such as the sciences, arts, or business. The USCIS defines exceptional ability as being significantly above what is ordinarily encountered in the field.
  • EB-2C: This type of visa is for those who can substantially benefit the U.S. national interest. This is also known as the National Interest Waiver (NIW).

To apply for an EB-2 Visa, the applicant typically needs an approved labor certification and a job offer from a U.S. employer.

However, the National Interest Waiver (EB-2C) allows individuals to self-petition. This means they do not require a job offer, and the labor certification can be waived.

EB-3 Visa

The EB-3 Visa is an employment-based immigrant visa for foreign workers.

This type of visa is designed for three types of employment categories, as detailed below:

  • Skilled workers: Those whose jobs require at least two years of experience or training.
  • Professional workers: Those whose jobs require at least a bachelor’s degree or an equivalent foreign degree.
  • Unskilled or other workers:Those performing ‘unskilled labor’ jobs that require less than two years of training or experience.

If you want more information about the job categories, read our guide to the EB-3 job criteria.

The EB-3 Visa is often easier to secure than the EB-1 or EB-2 visas as the eligibility criteria are less strict. As a result, the difference between the EB-1, EB-2 and EB-3 visas.

Download our factsheet to learn more about the EB-3 Visa.

EB-4 Visa

The EB-4 Visa is a fourth-preference employment-based visa. Like the other EB visas, the EB-4 grants permanent resident status and is open to special immigrants, including:

  • Religious workers
  • Certain broadcasters
  • Certain retired officers or employees of a ‘G-4 international organization’ or ‘NATO-6’ civilian employees and their family members
  • Certain U.S. government employees
  • Members of the U.S. armed forces
  • Panama Canal company or Canal Zone government employees
  • Certain physicians
  • Those who are not U.S. citizens but have supplied information concerning a criminal or terrorist organisation

EB-5 Visa

The EB-5 Visa is a US immigrant investor program that provides a route for foreign investors to gain resident status, otherwise known as a US Green Card

There are two primary EB-5 investment options – direct and regional center investments.

  • Direct investments: A minimum investment of $1,050,000 in a new commercial enterprise, or $800,000 if the project is in a targeted employment area (TEA)
  • Regional centers: EB-5 regional centers pool investment funds, which are used to fund large-scale projects. The minimum investment amount for this option is the same as for direct investment.

Other EB-5 requirements include having a clean criminal record and proving that investment funds came from a legal source.

Unlike other employment-based visas, the EB-5 does not require a job offer. Instead, the EB-5 is more focused on job creation.

Download our factsheet to learn more about the EB-5 Visa.

U.S. employment-based visas with Holborn

U.S. employment-based visas are vital in attracting skilled workers, entrepreneurs and investors to the United States.

Each type of employment visa has a different purpose and eligibility requirements, making navigating the U.S. immigration system complex.

If you would like to learn more or have any questions, we can help.

Holborn Pass is an international leader in investor visas. We provide an end-to-end service to support you throughout the process.

We are part of the wider Holborn Assets Group, a leading, award-winning financial advisory company with over $2 billion in assets under management (AUM).

We have successfully helped hundreds of individuals and families secure golden visas. To find out how we can assist you, book a consultation with one of our advisers.

Frequently asked questions

The U.S. offers several categories of employment-based visas. They are:

β€’ EB-1

β€’ EB-2

β€’ EB-3

β€’ EB-4

β€’ EB-5

The purpose and criteria for each U.S. visa type are different

The process for each of the five U.S. employment-based visas is different. However, each will involve filing an immigrant visa petition with the USCIS and ensuring you meet specific requirements.

Requirements vary depending on the specific category of visa. Generally, applicants must have a valid job offer from a U.S. employer. The exception to this is the EB-5 Visa, which requires an investment and the creation of 10 full-time jobs for U.S. workers.

There are annual visa caps for each of the U.S. employment-based visas. For example, around 40,000 EB-3 and 10,000 EB-5 visas are available each year.

Employment-based visa holders can apply for permanent residence (U.S. Green Card) as long as they meet certain requirements. The process for obtaining a Green Card can vary depending on the specific visa category.

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