Immigrant visas allow you to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. This means you obtain lawful permanent resident status, commonly called getting your “green card.” A permanent resident becomes eligible to apply for U.S. citizenship once certain requirements are met.
Foreign Nationals of Extraordinary Ability; Multinational Executives and Managers;
Outstanding Professors and Researchers
Foreign nationals who qualify for one of these immigrant visa categories can obtain permanent residency without having to go through the labor certification process. A foreign national in the extraordinary category may self-petition, since a job offer is not required. A foreign national who qualifies for O-1 non-immigrant classification is generally considered “extraordinary” for purposes of permanent residency in this category. A foreign national who qualifies for L-1A non-immigrant classification generally qualifies for permanent residency in the multinational executive and manager category.
Professionals with Advanced Degrees; Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts, or Business
This visa category normally requires a job offer and labor certification. Labor certification requires the employer to go through a process to be sure that the foreign national will not be taking away a job from a qualified U.S. worker. The job offer and labor certification process is waived if it is shown that it is in the national interest of the United States to do so.
Professional means a qualified immigrant who has a U.S. baccalaureate degree or a foreign equivalent and is a member of the professions (such as architecture, engineering, teaching etc.). Skilled workers perform skilled labor requiring at least two years of training or experience. Unskilled workers perform unskilled labor requiring less than two years of training or experience. A job offer and labor certification is required for all immigrants in this category.
This category is for ministers, and religious professionals and workers. A foreign national in R-1 non-immigrant religious status can generally become a permanent resident in the fourth preference immigrant category, if he or she has been a minister or working as a religious professional or worker for at least two years prior to filing for residency. A job offer is required, but labor certification is not required.
Foreign nationals who invest, or are actively in the process of investing, $1 million (US$) in a new commercial enterprise in the United States, or $500,000 (US$) in certain targeted employment areas, are eligible for permanent residency in this category. The commercial enterprise must create at least 10 full-time jobs for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or other foreign nationals authorized to be employed. No labor certification is required.
Labor Certification is a determination by the U.S. Department of Labor that there are not sufficient available and qualified U.S. workers for the position and that employing the foreign national will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers who are similarly employed. Labor certification is the responsibility of the employer. All third preference immigrants must go through labor certification. Second preference immigrants must also go through labor certification, unless it can be shown that it is in the national interest to waive this requirement. First preference immigrants do not require labor certification.