Many people come to the U.S. every year to join the workforce. In order to immigrate to the U.S. for work, individuals must have an employer already lined up who is willing to sponsor the visa that allows them to enter the country.
It’s important to understand that not all worker visas are immigrant visas. Some people arrive with nonimmigrant visas, which allow entry for a designated period of time, but do not include a path to permanent residence.
Employment-based immigrant visas:
- EB-1: for people of “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors or researchers; and multinational executives and managers”
- EB-2: for those holding advanced degrees or with “exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business”
- EB-3: for skilled workers, professionals, and “other workers” who are performing work for which qualified workers in the U.S. cannot be found
- EB-4: “special immigrants,” which include certain religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, retired employees of international organizations, noncitizen minors who are wards of courts in the U.S., and some others.
- EB-5: business investors who invest at certain levels in commercial enterprise and who employ at least 10 full-time U.S. workers
These visa categories are extremely limited. About 140,000 are available each year, including the spouses and children of applicants.
There’s a prevalent myth that it’s easy to immigrate to the U.S. for work if you “just get in line,” but that is not the case. There are limits on availability that are often far lower than the number of people seeking work, and it also requires access to employers who are willing to sponsor the application. It takes a blend of education, skill, and a lot of luck to be among those granted an employment visa each year.
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