top of page

Employment-Based Immigration

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

Would you like to live and work legally in the United States? If your answer is yes, then this article is for you.

There are many options available if you would like to work in the United States or immigrate via an employment-based visa. Although requirements are, in most cases, stringent and waiting times are long, don’t be discouraged. Keep reading as we explore the many different types of work visas and how you and your family could qualify for one of them.

In this first introduction to work or employment-based visas, we will divide them in two categories: sponsored and non-sponsored.

What is a sponsored visa?

Sponsored visas are the those that require you, the foreign national, to have an employer based or with offices in the United States to serve as the sponsor. The sponsor is responsible for some of the steps of the visa process, thus sponsoring the foreign national’s visa. By doing so, the employer is basically guaranteeing to local immigration authorities that you will be a legal working resident. The employer must hire you for the job position described in the documents submitted to the Department of Labor or the USCIS and must comply with guidelines for payments and hours worked, if applicable.

You can search for a sponsor and petition for a work visa while in the U.S. if a change of status is allowed in your situation or while out of the country through consular processing.

Here are some types of sponsored non-immigrant visas:

J-1 visas are for participants of exchange programs, designated by the Department of State, to promote educational and cultural exchanges between the U.S. and other foreign nationals. Thousands of foreign nationals come to the U.S. every year, for example, to work at ski resorts on J visas.

H-1B visas are available for professional positions and require at least a bachelor’s degree.

H-2A and H-2B visas are available for seasonal positions, like agricultural work, that lack enough U.S. citizens willing to work as employees.

L-1A or L-1B visas are for people transferring within a multinational company to an office, subsidiary or affiliate located in the U.S.

O-1 visas are for those with extraordinary talents in certain fields such as: the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. The foreign national must have a demonstrated record of extraordinary achievement in these fields including national or international achievements if applicable. In certain cases, the talented foreign national’s agent can serve as his or her employer or sponsor.

P-1A, P1-B, P2, and P-3 visas are for artists and entertainers. Including athletes, athletic teams, and entertainment companies like circuses.

Q visas are for people participating in international cultural exchange programs approved by the Secretary of Homeland Security. The purpose of this type of cultural exchange program is to provide practical training and employment, and share the history, culture, and traditions of the foreign national’s home country with the U.S.

C-1, D, and C-1/D visas are for crew members of ships or airline employees.

What is a non-sponsored visa?

A non-sponsored visa, also called self-petitioning, is the type of visa that allows foreign nationals to request employment-based status without the need to have a sponsor or employer. Some even lead to legal permanent resident status (or the green card) and U.S. citizenship.

Some of these immigrant visas are:

EB-1A visas, also known as the first preference level for employment-based green cards, are available for foreign nationals with extraordinary achievement in certain fields such as science, arts, business, education, and athletics. The foreign national must demonstrate that he or she is the recipient of extraordinary achievements and that such skills will benefit the U.S. The foreign national must intend to continue to work in the same field after the visa is issued.

EB-2 NIW visas, which stands for National Interest Waiver, is a second preference employment-based option in which the foreign national must demonstrate to the USCIS that there is a national interest in allowing him or her to work in the U.S., skipping the labor certificate phase altogether, meaning no sponsor is needed. Your documentation should include official academic records like degrees and certificates, letters documenting your full-time experience in your field for a minimum of ten years, professional licenses and awards and recognitions.

EB-3 visas are a great option for foreign nationals considered to be skilled workers or professionals who also have a U.S. based company willing to sponsor their visa request. This type of visa is also available for unskilled labor requiring less than two years of training or experience and does not have to be of a temporary nature. The first step of the process starts with the Department of Labor and the request for a labor certification that will then serve as the basis of the employment-visa request and adjustment of status.

EB-5 visas are for foreign investors willing to boost the U.S. economy by making an investment in U.S. dollars in a commercial enterprise that will generate jobs. This type of visa must include a detailed business plan with the necessary supporting documentation showing the USCIS how your investment meets all the necessary requirements for this program.

The Diversity program is also a way to obtain your green card without the need for a sponsor. This is a lottery program with a limited number of visas issued every year that targets foreign nationals from countries with a low number of immigrants in the U.S.

How do I learn more about each type of employment-based visa?

We have barely scratched the surface here, so stay tuned for more articles for each of these categories which will include which forms must be filed and what supporting documentation must be included! There is much more to come!

How do I get started?

What a great question! If you would like to know what option best applies to you and how you can get started, contact us today by sending an email to or by phone at (385) 334-4030.

NEW: You can also schedule a one-hour consultation with one of our immigration experts by going to our website:


bottom of page