Many foreign nationals are able to live permanently and become lawful permanent residents in the United States through employment. One important aspect of the immigration process will be whether the foreign national is considered a temporary worker or a permanent worker. Employment-based visas and green cards can be complicated because immigrants may be required to provide labor certification or prove an employer-employee relationship. Our immigration attorneys in Houston can help you navigate and achieve the most desirable outcome to the entire U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) process. You can have our lawyers review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call (832) 530-4070 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Harris County Family-Based Immigration Information Center
- Employment-Based Immigration for Permanent Workers in Texas
- Employment-Based Immigration for Temporary Workers in Texas
- Employment-Based Immigration for Students and Exchange Visitors
Employment-Based Immigration for Permanent Workers in Texas
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) allocates 140,000 visas annually for employment-based lawful permanent residents (LPRs). As the U.S. Department of State notes, all categories of employment-based immigrant visas are issued in the chronological order in which petitions are filed until the annual numerical limit for the category is reached, and a petition’s filing date becomes the applicant’s priority date—the date a labor certification application is received by the Department of Labor (DOL).
Permanent worker visas in the United States are divided into the five following preference categories:
- First Preference (EB-1) — Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics; outstanding professors or researchers; and multinational executives and managers.
- Second Preference (EB-2) — Persons who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or for persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business.
- Third Preference (EB-3) — Professionals, skilled workers, and other workers.
- Fourth Preference (EB-4) — “Special immigrants,” including certain religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, retired employees of international organizations, alien minors who are wards of courts in the United States, and other classes of aliens.
- Fifth Preference (EB-5) — Business investors who invest $1 million or $500,000 (if the investment is made in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers.
EB-2 and EB-3 visas both require labor certification, although an exception exists for EB-2 applicants who obtain national waivers. Labor certification involves a foreign national’s employer essentially becoming his or her sponsor.
Employers can be required to obtain an approved labor certification from the DOL before the employer can submit an immigration petition to USCIS. DOL labor certification verifies that there are insufficiently available, qualified, and willing U.S. workers to fill the position being offered at the prevailing wage, and hiring a foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
Employment-Based Immigration for Temporary Workers in Texas
Federal immigration law also allows people to come to the country as nonimmigrants for temporary work. The B-1 Temporary Business Visitor visa, for example, is available for temporary business visitors to conduct activities of a commercial or professional nature.
USCIS has several different temporary worker classifications that can dictate petition filings. Temporary (Nonimmigrant) Worker Classifications include:
- Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI)-Only Transitional Worker (CW-1)
- E-1 Treaty Traders
- E-2 Treaty Investors
- CNMI-Only Investor (E-2)
- E-3 Certain Specialty Occupation Professionals from Australia
- H-1B Specialty Occupations, DOD Cooperative Research and Development Project Workers, and Fashion Models
- H-1C Registered Nurse Working in a Health Professional Shortage Area as Determined by the Department of Labor
- H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers
- H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers
- H-3 Nonimmigrant Trainee or Special Education Exchange Visitor
- I Representatives of Foreign Media
- L-1A Intracompany Transferee Executive or Manager
- L-1B Intracompany Transferee Specialized Knowledge
- O-1 Visa: Individuals with Extraordinary Ability or Achievement
- O-2 Visa: Persons accompanying solely to assist an O-1 nonimmigrant
- P-1A Internationally Recognized Athlete
- P-1B A Member of an Internationally Recognized Entertainment Group
- P-2 Individual Performer or Part of a Group Entering to Perform Under a Reciprocal Exchange Program
- P-3 Artist or Entertainer Coming to Be Part of a Culturally Unique Program
- Q-1 Cultural Exchange
- R-1 Temporary Nonimmigrant Religious Workers
- TN NAFTA Professionals
Employment-Based Immigration for Students and Exchange Visitors
USCIS also has two nonimmigrant student visa categories for foreign nationals seeking to pursue full-time academic or vocational studies in the United States as well as a visa category for students wishing to participate in exchange programs. The “F” category is for academic students, the “M” category is for vocational students, and the “J” category is for exchange visitors.
Visas available to students and exchange visitors under these categories include:
- F-1 Academic students
- F-2 Spouses and children of F-1
- F-3 Canadian or Mexican national academic commuter students
- M-1 Vocational students
- M-2 Spouses and children of M1
- M-3 Canadian or Mexican national vocational commuter students
- J-1 Exchange visitors
- J-2 Spouses and children of J-1
Contact a Houston Immigration Attorney
Are you trying to obtain an employment-based immigrant visa or green card in Harris County? You will want to contact The Gonzalez Law Group as soon as possible. Our Houston immigration lawyers help individuals in the greater Harris County area including Pearland, Baytown, Seabrook, La Porte, Pasadena, Galena Park, Friendswood, and many others. Call (832) 530 4070 or fill out an online contact form to have our attorneys provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free, confidential consultation.