To immigrate to the United States of America you must either be (1) sponsored by a U.S. citizen relative (or in some cases a legal permanent resident), (2) be sponsored by a U.S. employer (in some exceptional cases you can file an application on your own behalf), (3) you must make a significant (minimum $1,000,000 or $500,000 in designated areas) investment in a U.S. enterprise, or (4) you must be a winner in the Diversity Visa Lottery program.

Family Sponsorship
Only immediate relatives qualify as U.S. sponsors, such as spouses, parents, and children over 21 years of age. Aunts, uncles and cousins do not qualify. Sponsorship through adoption is possible only until age 16.

Employment-Related Immigration

There are several categories under which permanent residency may be granted to foreign nationals through employment. These are described in greater detail at the “Permanent Workers” section of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website, and include internationally-recognized artists, scientists, athletes, researchers, multi-national executives, and religious workers.
See, “Permanent Workers.”

Most of these categories require that the employer, after making significant efforts to recruit qualified US workers, first submit an application to the U.S. Department of Labor. Once approved, the employer must file a second petition with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. EB-1 “multinational executives and managers” are not required to first obtain approval by the U.S. Department of Labor, but must meet other very specific qualifications.

Following is a brief description of the 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. (See Third Preference EB-3 link on left for further definition of these job classifications.)

Fourth Preference EB-4

  • “Special immigrants,” which includes 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.

Many of the employment categories require that the employer, after making significant efforts to recruit qualified U.S. workers, first submit an application to the U.S. Department of Labor. Once approved, the employer must file a second application (I-140) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. One of the primary considerations in determining where and how permanent residency should be applied for depends upon whether prospective employee is in the U.S. or overseas.

Under the EB-1 category, individuals being transferred to work permanently in the U.S. at an affiliate or branch are not required to go through the labor certification process, but the application must meet the same general requirements as for the L-1A temporary visa.

For more detailed information, visit the United States citizenship and immigration services website:

General Information

The above provides only a general overview of some of the possibilities for obtaining temporary or permanent residency in the U.S. Each case is unique and must be handled on an individual basis. The laws, regulations and procedures can appear complicated and are subject to continuous change and interpretation. To find the most up-to-date information, be sure to visit the applicable websites and consult with a knowledgeable immigration professional.

This information is generalized and should not be relied upon as legal advice; this communication does not create a lawyer client relationship.

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