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The Basics of Business Immigration: Understanding the EB-1 Program

The US immigration code is complicated to say the least. But whether you are an employer looking to hire an immigrant, or you’re a non-American hoping to find work in the US, understanding how to navigate the law is critical. In this blog entry, we’re going to examine the basics of the EB-1 visa category.

“Green cards” are divided into “preference categories” in the regulatory scheme. The first preference category is the EB-1 visa; the category for priority workers.

This is a category for highly accomplished business executives, professors, and well-known artists or athletes. It’s unusual among visas in that an employer hiring an individual from this category does not need to go through the process of first attempting to recruit a US worker for the job. In other words, the employer can skip the cumbersome Labor Certification (or PERM) process. In addition, an individual considered a worker of extraordinary ability (EB-1A) doesn’t need a job offer in the US at all and can actually “self-petition” for the green card. To learn more about self-petition green cards, download our complimentary guide.

The subcategories in the EB-1 category are:

  • Workers of extraordinary ability (EB-1A)
  • Researchers or university professors (EB-1B)
  • Executives or Managers in multinational companies (EB-1C)

A worker of extraordinary ability is someone who is publicly recognized for his or her achievements. These achievements can be in almost any field: sports, education, sciences, the arts. As discussed earlier, the worker of extraordinary ability does not need a job offer to get a green card, but he or she must continue working in the field of expertise. However, a petition submitted by an employer may make it more likely that a worker of extraordinary ability visa is approved. This visa has a nonimmigrant “twin,” the O-1 visa. The O-1 is for workers of extraordinary ability who want to come to the US to work on a temporary basis. Often times, the O-1 can be a strong precursor to EB-1A status.

An outstanding professor or researcher is someone who is renowned in an academic field. The academic must have at least three years experience as a researcher or a professor. To qualify for a visa, the job offer must be for a tenure-track position (or comparable position if tenure not offered) or a research position. The institution making the job offer must be either a university or other institution of higher learning or a research institution with at least three full-time research staff members.

To qualify for a visa in the multinational executive and manager subcategory, the manager must have been working for the relevant business for at least one of the past three years outside of the US in a managerial or executive position, and must be planning to work for the an affiliated business in the US in a managerial or executive position. The US business must be qualified under a complicated set of rules relating to affiliation. There is also a complex definition regarding who qualifies as an executive or manager. It can be difficult in this category to determine who is eligible without guidance from a business immigration attorney as even “functional” managers could be deemed qualified in the right circumstances.

If you’d like to learn more about business immigration in general, or the EB-1 category specifically, the attorneys of FordMurray offer complimentary consultations. Contact us today to learn more!