U.S. Immigration: Temporary and Permanent Status

Employment-Based Permanent Residence

The employment-based categories for permanent residence are based on a foreign worker’s occupation and skills. Employment-based categories are subject to annual visa limits, therefore there are waiting lists in many of the categories. Applications are prioritized by the filing date of a labour certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) if required, and the filing of an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS).

Employment-based immigration is divided into five preference categories, as follows:


This category is for individuals who possess extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. The immigrant must provide extensive documentation to demonstrate sustained national or international recognition in their field.


Executives and managers may apply under this category providing that they have been employed for at least one of the three years prior to the filing of the petition, or, in the case of a foreign worker already in the United States, one of the three years preceding entry to the U.S. as a non-immigrant, by the affiliate, parent or subsidiary of the U.S. employer in a managerial or executive capacity. These applicants must be entering the United States with the intent to work in a managerial or executive position.


Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years experience in teaching and/or research in their field, and who are recognized internationally for their outstanding achievements, may also apply under this category.

EB-1 applicants are not required to obtain a labour certification.


Applicants for this category must hold advanced degrees, or have exceptional ability in the Arts, Sciences, or Business fields, and, as a result, will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural, or educational interests or welfare of the United States. These applicants generally must have a labor certification approved by the DOL, or establish that they qualify for one of the shortage occupations in the labour market. To apply under this category, an offer of employment is usually required, and, in such cases, the U.S. employer must file a petition on behalf of the applicant.

An individual with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, may apply to waive the requirement to have a job offer, if such waiver would be in the national interest.


  1. Skilled workers,
  2. Professionals holding baccalaureate degrees and
  3. Other workers may apply under this category.

All applicants under this category are required to have the prospective employer file an Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker (I-140). Applicants also require a labor certification and a permanent full-time job offer.


This is referred to as a Special Immigrants Category generally for (1) foreign national religious workers and (2) employees and former employees of the U.S. Government abroad. These applicants must have received an approved Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant (I-360). EB-4 special immigrant religious worker applicants must be entering the United States as a member of a religious denomination that has a non-profit religious organization in the United States, to provide the following services, and have been performing such religious work for the past two years.


This category is for Employment Creation Investors.  They must invest between USD$500,000 and $1,000,000 (depending on the employment rate in the area) in a new commercial enterprise in the United States that employs at least ten U.S. citizens, permanent residents or individuals holding valid temporary employment visas on a full-time basis.

For further details on the Employment-Based Permanent Immigrant Status, please contact us for a consultation.