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How Many Employment-Based Green Cards Are Available Each Year?

 Posted on March 21, 2023 in Immigration

Dallas Employment-Based Immigration Lawyers

The United States is often seen as the land of opportunity, attracting thousands of foreign workers each year who hope to establish and advance their careers. Employment-based visas and Green Cards are one of the most sought-after avenues to achieve this dream, offering permanent residency in the U.S. However, obtaining an employment-based Green Card can be a complex and lengthy process. For those who wish to immigrate to the United States, it can be helpful to understand the different categories of workers who may qualify for Green Cards and the annual quotas for each type of employment-based Green Card.

Annual Availability of Employment-Based Green Cards

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) makes about 140,000 employment-based green cards available each fiscal year. This number is not necessarily fixed, as unused family-based visas from the previous year may increase the quota for employment-based green cards.

Employment-based visas are distributed among various preference categories depending on the applicants' qualifications and the labor market's demands. In addition, only 7 percent of the total number of employment-based visas issued in a year can go to immigrants from a single country. This means that even though there are large numbers of people from countries such as China or India waiting for visas, no more than 9,800 people from each of these countries will typically be approved each year. Because the total number of applicants almost always exceeds the annual quota, there are significant backlogs and waiting times for aspiring immigrants.

Preference Categories for Employment-Based Green Cards

Green cards are issued according to the following order of preference:

  1. First Preference Category (EB-1): The EB-1 category is designated for priority workers considered as having exceptional abilities or expertise in their respective fields. Subcategories within the EB-1 classification include:

    1. Persons with extraordinary abilities: This classification is reserved for individuals with outstanding achievements in their fields, such as arts, sciences, business, education, or athletics.

    2. Outstanding professors and researchers: This group consists of recognized scholars or researchers with at least three years of experience in their respective field of study or research.

    3. Multinational managers or executives: This category refers to managerial or executive personnel who are transferred to the United States by a multinational corporation.

  2. Second Preference Category (EB-2): The EB-2 category is designed for professionals with advanced degrees or those considered to possess exceptional abilities in their field. There are two main subcategories within EB-2:

    1. Professionals with advanced degrees: This group includes individuals who have obtained an academic degree above a bachelor's degree, such as a master's or doctoral degree, as well as those who have a bachelor's degree with at least five years of progressive experience in their field.

    2. Persons with exceptional abilities: This classification covers applicants with exceptional abilities in sciences, arts, or business, which are significantly above what is typically encountered in their respective fields.

  3. Third Preference Category (EB-3): The EB-3 category is aimed at skilled workers, professionals, and other, less-skilled workers. There are three subcategories within EB-3:

    1. Skilled workers: This category applies to those with a minimum of two years of work experience or training in a particular occupation.

    2. Professionals: This group consists of individuals holding baccalaureate degrees in their fields who are pursuing jobs that require college degrees.

    3. Other workers: This category covers unskilled workers who are capable of performing jobs that require less than two years of training or experience.

  4. Fourth Preference Category (EB-4): The EB-4 category is reserved for "special immigrants" who include religious workers, certain employees of the U.S. government abroad, and qualified individuals serving the U.S. military, among others.

  5. Fifth Preference Category (EB-5): Lastly, the EB-5 category, also known as the Immigrant Investor Program, targets foreign investors willing to invest in the United States, create jobs, and positively impact the U.S. economy. In return, these investors can obtain a Green Card for themselves and their immediate family members under this program.

Contact Our Dallas Employment-Based Immigration Lawyers

While the road to obtaining an employment-based Green Card may seem daunting, understanding the distinct categories and the applicable quotas can help potential applicants navigate the process effectively. While the road to permanent residence may seem long and difficult, a well-strategized plan can open the doors to exciting new opportunities in the United States. At John W. Lawit, LLC, we work with immigrants and families to complete the process of applying for visas, Green Cards, and citizenship, and we help them address any issues they may encounter along the way. Contact our Carrollton immigration attorneys at 214-609-2242 to set up a consultation and get legal help with these issues.


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