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Information on employment-based immigrant visas

Non-U.S. citizens who are interested in obtaining a work visa allowing them to move to South Carolina may be curious about the procedure involved. There are different types of employment visas, depending on a worker's education, skills and abilities. For most types of visas, the sponsoring employer files the documentation to ask that the worker be permitted to work in the United States.

Before an employment visa can be issued, the applicant needs a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor. This certification is typically obtained by the employer. Once the Department of Labor issues the approval, the company files an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.

There are five categories of employment-based visas. More than one-quarter of them are given to priority workers, those in category E-1. Priority workers are those with extraordinary abilities, professors or researchers or individuals who worked for a multinational employer in another country and are transferring to the United States. These individuals file their own petitions. The second priority goes to professionals holding advanced degrees and those with exceptional abilities. Third priority is given to skilled and unskilled workers or professionals. A professional is anyone whose job requires at least a bachelor's degree. E-4 priority is given to those who are considered certain special immigrants. This category includes 19 subdivisions. Finally, the government issues E-5 visas to foreigners seeking to invest in new commercial enterprises in the United States

An immigration attorney may be able to help employers seek visas on behalf of employees. It may also be possible to help employers sponsor employees for permanent residence or citizenship when the time comes. The attorney may also be able to help priority workers gather documentation to support their requests for a visa or file the petitions.

Source: U.S. Department of State, "Employment-Based Immigrant Visa", September 12, 2014

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