Every fiscal year (October 1– September 30), approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are made available to qualified applicants under the provisions of U.S. immigration law. Employment based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories. Certain spouses and children may accompany or follow-to-join employment-based immigrants.
To be considered for an immigrant visa under some of the employment-based categories below, the applicant’s prospective employer or agent must first obtain a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor. Once received (if required), the employer then files an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the appropriate employment-based preference category. (NOTE: Persons with extraordinary abilities in the Employment First preference category are able to file their own petitions.) When filing the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, see the detailed form instructions, as well as more detailed requirements information on the USCIS Permanent Workers webpage.
Employment First Preference (E1): Priority Workers
A First Preference applicant must be the beneficiary of an approved Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker, Form I-140, filed with USCIS. Labor certification is not required for any of the Priority Worker subgroups. Priority Workers receive 28.6 percent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas.
There are three sub-groups within this category:
- Persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. Applicants in this category must have extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in their fields of expertise. Such applicants do not have to have specific job offers, so long as they are entering the U.S. to continue work in the fields in which they have extraordinary ability. Such applicants can file their own Immigrant Petitions for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS.
- Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally. Applicants in this category must be coming to the U.S. to pursue tenure, tenure track teaching, or a comparable research position at a university or other institution of higher education. The prospective employer must provide a job offer and file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS.
- Multinational managers or executives who have been employed for at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer. The applicant’s employment outside of the U.S. must have been in a managerial or executive capacity, and the applicant must be coming to work in a managerial or executive capacity. The prospective employer must provide a job offer and file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS.
Employment Second Preference (E2)
Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability
A Second Preference applicant must generally have a labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. A job offer is required and the U.S. employer must file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, on behalf of the applicant. Applicants may apply for an exemption, known as a National Interest Waiver, from the job offer and labor certification if the exemption would be in the national interest. In this case, the applicant may self-petition by filing the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, along with evidence of the national interest. Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability receive 28.6 percent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas, plus any unused visas from the Employment First Preference category.
There are two subgroups within this category:
- Professionals holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years progressive experience in the profession.
- Persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability means having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.
Employment Third Preference (E3)
Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)
A Third Preference applicant must have an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, filed by the prospective employer. All such workers generally require labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers) receive 28.6 percent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas, plus any unused visas from the Employment First Preference and Second Preference categories.
There are three subgroups within this category:
- Skilled workers are persons whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years training or work experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
- Professionals are members of the professions whose jobs require at least a baccalaureate degree from a U.S. university or college or its foreign equivalent degree.
- Unskilled workers (Other workers) are persons capable of filling positions that require less than two years training or experience that are not temporary or seasonal.
Employment Fourth Preference (E4): Certain Special Immigrants
A Fourth Preference applicant must be the beneficiary of an approved Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, Form I-360, with the exception of Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad (see number 3 below). Labor certification is not required for any of the Certain Special Immigrants subgroups. Special Immigrants receive 7.1 percent of the yearly worldwide limit of employment-based immigrant visas.
There are many subgroups within this category:
- Broadcasters in the U.S. employed by the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or a grantee of such organization
- Ministers of Religion
- Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad – Must use Form DS-1884, Petition To Classify Special Immigrant Under INA 203(b)(4) As An Employee Or Former Employee of the U.S. Government Abroad (PDF 38KB)
- Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government
- Certain Former Employees of the U.S. Government in the Panama Canal Zone
- Certain Former Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government on April 1, 1979
- Iraqi and Afghan interpreters/translators who have worked directly with the United States armed forces or under Chief of Mission authority as a translator/interpreter for a period of at least 12 months and meet requirements. This classification has an annual numeric limitation of 50 visas. See Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqi and Afghan Translators/Interpreters for more information.
- Iraqi and Afghan nationals who have provided faithful and valuable service while employed by or on behalf of the U.S. government in Iraq for not less than one year on or after March 20th, 2003 and prior to September 30, 2013, or in Afghanistan for not less than one year after October 7th, 2001, and have experienced an ongoing serious threat as a consequence of that employment. See Special Immigrant Visas for Iraqis – Worked for/on behalf of the U.S. Government and Afghans – Worked for/on behalf of the U.S. Government for more information.
- Certain Foreign Medical Graduates (Adjustments Only)
- Certain Retired International Organization Employees
- Certain Unmarried Sons and Daughters of International Organization Employees
- Certain Surviving Spouses of deceased International Organization Employees
- Special Immigrant Juveniles (no family member derivatives; Adjustments Only)
- Persons Recruited Outside of the United States Who Have Served or are Enlisted to Serve in the U.S. Armed Forces
- Certain retired NATO-6 civilians
- Certain Unmarried Sons and Daughters of NATO-6 civilians
- Certain Surviving Spouses of deceased NATO-6 civilian employees
- Persons who are beneficiaries of petitions or labor certification applications filed prior to September 11, 2001, if the petition or application was rendered void due to a terrorist act on September 11, 2001
- Certain Religious Workers
Employment Fifth Preference (E5): Immigrant Investors
Immigrant Investor visa categories are for capital investment by foreign investors in new commercial enterprises in the United States which provide job creation. Select Immigrant Investor Visas to learn more about this employment-based category.
How to Apply
Every immigrant who plans to apply for an immigrant visa based on a job in the United States, must obtain a petition, approved by US Citizen Services and Immigration (USCIS), presented by your potential Employer.
If you require a labor certification, your employer must obtain it first and then present form I-140 petition for a potential immigrant employee, to US Citizen Services and Immigration.
Once USCIS approves the application, they will send the applicant a notification of the approval – form I-797. USCIS will also send the approved application to the National Visa Center (NVC).
Important information: United States law limits the number of available visas each year. This means that while your application may have been approved by USCIS, you may not receive the visa immediately. In some cases, many years may pass between the approval of your petition for an immigrant visa and the date when your visa is approved and issued. Immigrant visas are approved in the chronological order in which the petition was presented, and the priority date of the case will be determined by the application date.
Immigrant visas cannot be approved until they reach the priority date of the applicant. USCIS will mail the approved immigrant visa petition to the National Visa Center, where it will stay until the priority date is reached. You do not need to contact the National Visa Center. They will contact you with the instruction packet for immigrant visa applicants.
All intending immigrants who plan to base their immigrant visa application on employment in the United States must obtain an approved immigrant visa petition, filed by their prospective employer, from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If a labor certification is granted, the employer must first obtain that and then file a Form I-140, petition for Prospective Immigrant employee.
Once USCIS approves the petition, they will send the petitioner a notice of approval (Form I-797). USCIS will also forward the approved petition to the National Visa Center. For information regarding the processing at the NVC, please click here.
Important Notice: US law limits the number of immigrant visas that are available each year. This means that even if the USCIS approves an immigrant visa petition for you, you may not get an immigrant visa petition immediately. In some cases, several years could pass between the time your immigrant visa petition is approved and the time your immigrant visa is issued. Immigrant visas are issued in the chronological order in which the petition was filed until the numerical limit for the category is reached. The filing date of the petition becomes the applicant’s priority date.
Immigrant visas cannot be issued until the applicant’s priority is reached. Check the Visa Bulletin for the latest priority dates. USCIS will send the approved immigrant visa petition to the National Visa Center where it will remain until the priority date is available. You do NOT need to contact the National Visa Center. The National Visa Center will contact you with the Instruction package for immigrant visa applicants.
Once you have received notification that the petition has been approved, the visa applicant must follow the instructions regarding the visa fees and documentation required for visa application.
If you filed an Immigrant visa petition with USCIS and it was sent to the NVC:
Please click here for specific instructions.
Schedule an Interview
Appointments are necessary for immigrant visa interviews. Everyone applying for immigrant visa or K visa must appear in person: the principal applicant and eligible accompanying family members or derivatives. Petitioners are not required to appear at the time of the visa interview; however, they are welcome to do so if they wish.
Visa interviews are conducted on Monday and Thursday mornings, with the exception of U.S. and Argentine holidays. We strive to process all applicants promptly and efficiently, but please plan for the process to take 2-3 hours. Please be advised that your case will be delayed further if you are missing documents. Please do not purchase a plane ticket or make travel arrangements to go to the U.S. without confirmation of issuance of your visa.
If you are unable to appear for the interview, you may cancel or reschedule your appointment at the Official Visa Information and Appointment system page. You may do so, after you have registered the original interview date assigned by the NVC. Rescheduling an appointment may result in a delay in processing your visa case. You should try to reschedule your appointment only if absolutely necessary.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) requires that all immigrant visa applicants and certain non immigrant visa applicants (including K fiancée visa applicants), regardless of age, undergo a medical examination before receiving a visa. The medical exam is valid for 6 months, unless there is a special medical condition, in which case the validity will be limited. Please click here (PDF 4MB) for detailed information.
We cannot accept medical examination results from other sources. The fee for the medical exam, which is paid in pesos, is in addition to fees paid directly to the US government.
- Please arrive no more than fifteen (15) minutes before your scheduled appointment time.
- Only visa applicants, the parents of child applicants, and those assisting the elderly or disabled will be allowed into the Embassy.
- To enter the Embassy, all persons must go through a security screening. Please be advised that certain items are prohibited in the Embassy. Any person refusing to comply with the security process will be denied entry into the Embassy.
- Once you are inside the Embassy, you will be given a ticket number. Please wait until your number is called and proceed as directed.
- After you have completed the intake process, you will be interviewed by the Consular Officer.
If all the required documentation is in order and the interviewing officer is satisfied that the beneficiary qualifies for the immigrant visa, the visa will be authorized and you will receive your visa within one week. If not, you will be instructed how to proceed with your case.
Please be advised that if your visa is approved, you will be asked to register for the passport and IV packet delivery here. Please print the registration page and submit it on the day of the visa application appointment.
If you are found ineligible for a visa, you will be given a refusal letter with the specific reason(s) why you were ineligible.
In certain circumstances, individuals who have been found ineligible for an immigrant visa under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) may be eligible to apply for a waiver of the ineligibility. If there is a waiver available for the ineligibility, you will be given instructions on how to apply for a waiver. Not all visa ineligibilities are waiverable. If the consular officer determines that an applicant is ineligible for a visa, the applicant may request for a waiver of the ineligibility from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which has jurisdiction for adjudicating all waiver applications.
For further information, please see the USCIS I-212 page and USCIS I-601 waiver page.
If additional administrative processing of your visa is needed, this process can delay the final adjudication of your case. The consular officer will provide you with a letter of instructions on how to proceed.
Where to Apply
The filing address depends on whether you are filing Form I-140 by itself or with another form. Check the Direct Filing Addresses for Form I-140 for instructions on where to mail your form.
If filing at a USCIS Lockbox facility:
Please read our filing tips.
We will send you a text message and/or e-mail when your Form I-140 has been accepted if you complete Form G-1145, E-Notification of Application/Petition Acceptance, and clip it to the front of your petition.
To ensure your Form I-140 is accepted for processing:
Pay the correct filing fee.
Sign the form
Fill out the form completely and accurately, particularly these required fields:
Part 1 – Family Name or Company/Organization Name
Part 1 – Address
Part 1 – IRS Tax # or SSN (does not apply to Petition Types 1.a. (Alien of Extraordinary Ability) or 1.i. (National Interest Waiver)
Part 2 – Petition Type
Part 3 – Date of Birth
Submit the required evidence listed in the form instructions
Once the NVC determines the file is complete with all the required documents, they schedule the applicant’s interview appointment. NVC then sends the file, containing the applicant’s petition and the documents listed above, to the U.S. Embassy or Consulate where the applicant will be interviewed for a visa. The applicant, attorney, and/ or third-party agent, if applicable, will receive appointment emails, or letters (if no email address is available), containing the date and time of the applicant’s visa interview along with instructions regarding the appointment at the Consulate (PDF 1,8MB), including guidance for obtaining a medical examination.
Each applicant should bring a valid passport to the interview, as well as any other documentation above not already provided to NVC. A consular officer will interview the applicant, and the consular officer will determine whether the applicant is eligible to receive an immigrant visa in accordance with U.S. immigration law. Ink-free, digital fingerprint scans will be taken on the day of the interview. Generally, an applicant receives original civil documents and original translations back at the time of interview.
Employment-based immigrant visa fee: Please review the schedule of fees for updated information.
These fees, if not previously paid at the NVC, are payable at the Consular Section on the day of the appointment, in cash (US dollars, or pesos at the Embassy’s exchange rate), or international credit cards.
If you have already filed an immigrant case with USCIS, you can inquire about the status of your case directly at www.uscis.gov
If your immigrant visa case is approved and current for processing, you will receive notification from the National Visa Center about the documents required for visa application and about the interview scheduled at the U.S. Embassy Buenos Aires.
If you have questions that have not been answered from above, please feel free to contact us at Buenosaires-IV@state.gov However, due to the high volume of emails received daily, we are limited to answering ONLY those emails containing inquiries which are not addressed in our website.