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How first, second and third-preference employment visas differ

On Behalf of | Apr 29, 2024 | IMMIGRATION & NATURALIZATION - Employment Immigration

Understanding the nuances between first, second and third-preference employment visas is helpful for immigrants hoping to work in the United States. Each preference category represents a different priority level for granting employment-based visas. The categories vary based on skills, education and employer sponsorship.

Differentiating between these visa preferences can help applicants navigate the immigration process.

First-preference employment visas

First-preference employment visas, or EB-1 visas, are for those with extraordinary ability. They are also for outstanding professors and researchers and multinational executives and managers. These visas prioritize those who have exceptional talent or expertise in their field. They also prioritize those who hold key positions within multinational companies. EB-1 visa holders do not need a specific job offer in the United States and may self-petition for their visas.

Second-preference employment visas

Second-preference employment visas, or EB-2 visas, are available to professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in their field. This category also includes those seeking national interest waivers. EB-2 visa applicants require a job offer and labor certification from a U.S. employer. However, this may be avoidable if they qualify for a national interest waiver. National interest waivers are for individuals whose work is in the interest of the United States, such as those in fields like science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Third-preference employment visas

Third-preference employment visas, or EB-3 visas, are for skilled workers, professionals and other workers. Skilled workers have jobs requiring at least two years of training or experience. Professionals are those with a bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent. Other workers are people performing unskilled labor that is not temporary or seasonal. EB-3 visa applicants require a job offer and labor certification from a U.S. employer.

Understanding the criteria for these visa preference categories helps those looking to live and work in the United States increase their chances of obtaining a visa that aligns with their qualifications and circumstances.