Ray Law International

Employment Visa

Chicago Employment Visa Attorneys

What Is an Employment Visa?

An employment visa, also known as a work visa, allows immigrants to move to the U.S. for a job if they have the necessary work experience, education, or skills. 

Employment-based immigration is divided into two categories:

  • Temporary (nonimmigrants): This includes people who want to live and work in the U.S. for a limited time.
  • Permanent (immigrants): This option is for people who want to permanently stay and work in the U.S.

Generally, permanent employment visas are only granted to 140,000 people a year (this includes employees and their spouses and kids). 

In addition, there are five different types of permanent work visas:

  • EB-1 (First Preference): For someone to qualify for this preference, they must have extraordinary skills related to the arts, athletics, education, science, or business. Examples include multinational executives, researchers, and professors.
  • EB-2 (Second Preference): People who qualify for EB-2 work in professions related to the arts, business, or science. In addition, they must have extraordinary abilities in those professions and/or hold advanced degrees in relation to those professions.
  • EB-3 (Third Preference): Professionals, skilled workers, and unskilled workers can apply for EB-3. Professionals are defined as anyone who has a job in a profession that requires a U.S. bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent. Skilled workers must have a job that requires at least two years of training or experience and is not seasonal or temporary. Unskilled workers must have a job that requires less than two years of training, experience, or education. The job cannot be seasonal or temporary.
  • EB-4 (Fourth Preference): Those who qualify for EB-4 status include noncitizen minors who are wards of the U.S. court system, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, religious employees, workers who retired from international organizations, and members of other special classes of noncitizens.
  • EB-5 (Fifth Preference): Qualifying for EB-5 status requires a person to invest at least $1.8 million in a new business that will employ 10 U.S. workers or more. If the investment is made in a new business that will employ U.S. workers in certain employment areas, it can be as low as $900,000.

In some cases, a person must have received a job offer from a U.S. employer to qualify for a permanent employment visa. In this scenario, the employer will act as the person’s sponsor. Sponsors must submit immigration petitions to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). However, prior to being able to submit a petition to USCIS, employers must apply for and receive a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

Labor certification approval requires the employer to prove:

  • There are not enough qualified and willing U.S. workers available to fill the job being offered, and the job offers a competitive wage for the area (usually the union wage).
  • Bringing in someone from outside the U.S. to fill the job opening will not negatively impact the wages or working conditions of U.S. workers employed in similar positions.

Both EB-2 and EB-3 require labor certification.

How Do I Get an Employment Visa?

The employment visa application process is more complicated than many people realize. Not only must applicants complete several steps to get a work visa, but at each stage of the process, they could face challenges that could potentially ruin their chances of getting approved for a visa. 

The steps of the employment visa application process are:

  • Obtain a labor certification (if necessary)
  • File an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker form (Form I-140)
  • If the petition is approved, it will be forwarded to the National Visa Center (NVC). In addition, if the petition is approved, an applicant’s spouse and unmarried children under 21 may be able to apply for visas with them.
  • Applicants will need to fill out Form DS-261, pay application fees, and submit requested documents to the NVC.
  • Once the application forms are completed, fees paid, and documents submitted, applicants will undergo an interview, receive necessary vaccinations, and submit to a medical examination.

The steps listed above are a simplified version of the employment visa application process. For a more detailed description of the stages of the work visa application process, you should discuss your situation with our experienced attorneys.

Why Should I Talk to a Lawyer Before Applying for an Employment Visa?

Every area of immigration law is complex and full of pitfalls that can upend an applicant’s chances of staying in the U.S. The employment visa application process is no exception. For that reason alone, anyone applying for a work visa should speak with an experienced attorney first. Immigration lawyers handle issues such as the employment visa application process daily. They understand the steps that applicants need to take to have their work visa approved, because in many cases, they have been successfully guiding people through the employment visa application process for years. This does not mean that if an applicant has an immigration attorney on their side, their employment visa is guaranteed to be approved. It just means that trusting a legal professional to help is often the best chance an applicant has for approval.

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Need Help with an Employment Visa Application? Talk with Our Lawyers for Free!

Anthony L. Ray, Esq. has been helping clients avoid the pitfalls of the immigration process since 1999. Attorney Ray and the rest of the legal team at Ray Law International understand what it takes to successfully secure temporary and permanent work visas, fiancé visas, and green cards. As our client reviews prove, our attorneys have helped individuals, families, and even corporations across the U.S. and worldwide solve their immigration issues. Whatever stage of the immigration process you’re at, we can help you figure out the best options available to you and what steps you need to take next. To learn more, check out our immigration law videos.  


We can work with you, no matter your financial situation. We offer free consultations as well as payment plans. For more information, give us a call at (888) 474-8048 or fill out an online contact form.


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