The quickest and surest way to permanent residency through employment is to have a foreign worker qualify under the Employment Based First category (EB-1) as a Priority Worker. This category includes three specific types of workers:
- Persons of Extraordinary Ability
- Outstanding Professors and Researchers
- Multinational Executives and Managers
Each of these categories is highly restrictive by statute, by regulation and by actual enforcement by immigration adjudicators. It is impossible to provide more than a brief summary of these classifications.
Persons of Extraordinary Ability
This category includes persons of “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics” who can show “sustained national or international acclaim.” The acclaim can be the result of a single achievement (Nobel prize) or the accumulation of lesser awards, achievements and successes. We have obtained EB1 status for highly distinguished scientists, business executives and fine artists but the successful applicant must demonstrate that they are among the very top in their field. An individual in this category does not need an employer-sponsor and can self-petition.
Outstanding Professors and Researchers
An individual in this category should “stand apart in the academic community through eminence and distinction based on international recognition.” The applicant must have three years experience in teaching or research in the academic arena but the sponsor may be in the R&D department of a private employer rather than a university. Unlike the extraordinary ability category, applicants in this group must have an employer-sponsor.
For many established companies, this is the most sought after of all employment based applications for permanent residency. This classification allows a foreign business entity to transfer key personnel from the foreign office to a related office in the United States. In its simplest manifestation, a foreign manufacturer seeks to transfer its Director of Marketing from its head office abroad to perform similar services for a subsidiary or branch office in the U.S.
It does not require a labor certification, it is rarely backlogged, (even for citizens of India or China) and is available to many middle and upper management employees. An individual can effectively transfer himself from a high level position abroad, to a similar position in the U.S. without the need to invest a million dollars or more in the operation. Some companies will even transfer key employees, otherwise ineligible for permanent residency, to a year abroad for the company so as to be able to bring them back to the U.S. in this category and avoid a labor certification.
Neither the U.S. nor the foreign company is required to be of any specific size, but the applicant must have a record of directing or supervising the work of other individuals in the company. In order to comply with U.S. immigration requirements, the following criteria must be met:
- The US and foreign companies must both be owned and controlled by the same entity or individuals
- The individual being transferred must have worked for the foreign company for at least one year prior to the transfer and
- The transferred employee must have been employed as a manager or executive OR as a person of specialized knowledge.
Often a company will initially transfer a key employee to the U.S. as an L-1A Intracompany Transferee with the intention of later applying for permanent residency as a multinational manager or executive.