Getting Started

In general, a specific offer of employment from a U.S. based employer is required to qualify for immigration in the employment based preference categories.

Persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, education, arts, business or athletics: outstanding professors and researchers & certain multinational executives & managers.

The employment based first preference category (E1) is divided into three categories:

Aliens with extraordinary ability (E11)

Extraordinary ability means a level of expertise indicating that the individual is one of that small percentage who has risen to the top of his or her field of endeavor. To be considered as an alien with extraordinary ability, the alien must have sustained national or international acclaim in the field of science, art, education, business or athletics, which must be recognized in the form of extensive documentation. The alien must be seeking to enter the United States to continue work in the field, and the entry of such alien must substantially benefit prospectively the United States.

Although no offer of employment (including labor certification) is required, for aliens with extraordinary ability the alien must include with the petition convincing evidence that he or she is coming to continue work in the area of expertise. Evidence may include letter(s) from prospective employer(s), evidence of prearranged commitments, such as contracts, or a statement from the beneficiary detailing plans for continuing work in the United States.

Outstanding Professors and Researchers (E12)

An alien may qualify as an outstanding professor or researcher if the alien:
1. is recognized internationally as outstanding in a specific academic area;
2. has at least 3 years of experience in teaching or research in the academic area; and
3. has the required offer of employment.

Aliens coming to the United States as outstanding researchers or professors do not require labor certification. However, such aliens must have a letter from:
1. a U. S. university or institution of higher learning offering the alien a tenured or tenure-track teaching or research position in the academic field; or
2. Department, division, or institute of a private or non-profit employer offering the alien a comparable research position in the academic field. The department must demonstrate that it employs at least three persons full-time in research positions, and that it has achieved documented accomplishments in the academic field.

Certain Multinational Executives and Managers (E13)

An alien may qualify as multinational executive or manager if:
1. during the 3 year period preceding the time of the alien’s application for classification and admission into the United States, the alien has been employed for at least 1 year by a firm or corporation or other legal entity or an affiliate or subsidiary thereof; and
2. the alien seeks to enter the United States in order to continue to employment with the same employer or to a subsidiary or affiliate thereof in a capacity that is managerial or executive.

No labor certification is required for Certain Multinational Executives and Managers. However, the prospective U.S. employer must furnish a job offer in the form of a statement which indicates that the alien will be employed in the United States in a managerial or executive capacity. The letter must clearly describe the duties to be performed.

Do you qualify for the employment based first preference category?

An alien of extraordinary ability may file an immigrant visa petition, form I-140 (PDF – 151 kb), on his or her own behalf with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Other employer-sponsored immigrants must be beneficiaries of approved petitions filed by the employer. The petition is filed with the USCIS office having jurisdiction over the area of intended employment.

Note: The decision whether a person is qualified for registration in the employment based first preference category is made by USCIS. Questions about eligibility for such status or filing a petition should be addressed to the appropriate USCIS office. The Embassy cannot answer questions concerning eligibility to register in this category.

For more detailed information on immigrating as a priority worker please check the State Department’s website.

A member of the professions holding an advanced degree or equivalent, or baccalaureate degree plus at least 5 years of progressive experience in the specialty, and persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts and business.

A person who holds a baccalaureate degree and who is a member of the professions.

The employment based second preference (E2) category is divided into:

Members of “The Professions”

This category includes, but is not limited to, architects, engineers, lawyers, physicians, surgeons, and teachers in elementary or secondary schools, colleges, academia, or seminaries. It also includes any occupation for which a U.S. baccalaureate degree (or foreign equivalent) is the minimum requirement for entry into the occupation. For member of the professions, advanced degree means any U.S. academic or professional degree (or foreign equivalent degree) above that of a baccalaureate. A bachelor degree plus five years of progressive experience in the professions is considered as the equivalent of a master’s degree.

Aliens of Exceptional Ability

An alien will qualify for registration in this category if he or she is seeking to enter in the United States in his or her field and the entry of such alien will substantially benefit prospectively the national economy, cultural, or educational interests, or welfare of the United States.

Exceptional ability has been defined as something more than what is usual, ordinary, or common, and requires some rare or unusual talent, or unique or extraordinary ability in a calling which, of itself, requires that talent or skill. The possession of a degree, diploma, certificate, or similar award from a college, university, school, or other institution of learning or a license to practice, or certification for a particular profession or occupation, shall not, by itself, be considered sufficient evidence of such exceptional ability.

Do you qualify for the employment based second preference category?
A specific offer of employment is required in order to qualify for immigration in the employment based second preference category for members of certain professions. The prospective employer is required to contact the local state employment office for information on filing for labor certification to show that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the proposed employment. If labor certification is approved, the certification is filed together with an immigrant visa petition, form I-140, with the office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS)having jurisdiction over the area of intended employment.

Those seeking employment in the exceptional ability category, may seek an exemption from the job offer requirement and may file a petition on his or own behalf. Further information may be obtained from USCIS office having jurisdiction over the area of intended residence.

Note: The decision whether a person is qualified for registration in the employment based second preference category is made by USCIS. Questions about eligibility for such status or filing a petition should be addressed to the appropriate USCIS office. The Embassy cannot answer questions concerning eligibility to register in this category.

For more detailed information on this immigration category please checkthe State Department’s website.

Skilled workers with at least two years training or experience and unskilled workers whose skills are in short supply in the U.S. Note: The Embassy does not keep a list of these professions.

The employment based third preference (E3) category is divided into:

Professionals

Defined as a member of the professions who holds a baccalaureate degree. Members of the professions include, but are not limited to, architects, engineers, lawyers, physicians, surgeons, and teachers in elementary or secondary schools, colleges, academies, or seminaries. It also includes any occupation for which a U.S. baccalaureate degree (or foreign equivalent) is the minimum requirement for entry into the occupation.

Skilled workers

Defined as a person, who at the time of petitioning, is capable of performing skilled labor, requiring at least 2 years training or experience, not of a temporary or seasonal nature, and for which there are no qualified workers available in the United States. Relevant post-secondary education may be considered as training for the purposes of this provision.

Other Workers

Defined as a person who is to perform unskilled labor, requiring less than two years training, not of a temporary or seasonal nature, for which qualified workers are not available in the United States.

Do you qualify for the third preference category? What next?

A specific offer of employment is required in order to qualify for immigration in the employment based category as a professional, skilled or unskilled worker. The prospective employer should contact the local state employment office for information on filing for labor certification to show that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the proposed employment. If labor certification is approved, the prospective employer will be required to file the certification together with an immigrant visa petition, form I-140 (PDF – 151 kb), with the office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) having jurisdiction over the area of intended employment.

NOTE: The decision whether a person is qualified for registration in the employment based third preference category is made by the USCIS. Questions about eligibility for such status or filing a petition should be addressed to the appropriate USCIS office. The Embassy cannot answer questions concerning eligibility to register in this category.

For more detailed information on this immigration category please check the State Department’s website.

Certain religious workers and ministers of religion, certain international organization employees and their immediate family member, qualified and recommended current and former employees of the U.S. government and returning residents.

U.S. visa law provides for special immigrant visa status for ministers of religion and religious workers. To qualify, the applicant will require sponsorship from a bona fide religious organization in the United States and must meet the following criteria:

The applicant is proceeding to the United States solely for the purpose of carrying out the vocation of minister of a religious organization, or to work in a professional capacity in a religious vocation or occupation for a religious organization or a bona fide organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination;
The church in the United States where the applicant intends to serve is a bona fide religious organization and has demonstrated that the applicant’s services are needed, and is financially capable of supporting the applicant and any dependents without the applicant otherwise having to enter the labor force; and
The applicant has been carrying on the vocation of minister, or professional religious worker continuously for the two years immediately preceding his/her immigrant visa application.

How do I apply?

The first step in applying for an immigrant visa is for the religious organization to file a petition, form I-360, with the office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) having jurisdiction over the area where the minister of religion or religious worker will be employed.

For more detailed information on special immigrant category please click here.

Who qualifies?

U.S. visa law provides for special immigrant visa status for ministers of religion and religious workers. To qualify, the applicant will require sponsorship from a bona fide religious organization in the United States and must meet the following criteria:

The applicant is proceeding to the United States solely for the purpose of carrying out the vocation of minister of a religious organization, or to work in a professional capacity in a religious vocation or occupation for a religious organization or a bona fide organization which is affiliated with the religious denomination;
The church in the United States where the applicant intends to serve is a bona fide religious organization and has demonstrated that the applicant’s services are needed, and is financially capable of supporting the applicant and any dependents without the applicant otherwise having to enter the labor force; and
The applicant has been carrying on the vocation of minister, or professional religious worker continuously for the two years immediately preceding his/her immigrant visa application.

How do I apply?

The first step in applying for an immigrant visa is for the religious organization to file a petition, form I-360, with the office of the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) having jurisdiction over the area where the minister of religion or religious worker will be employed.

For more detailed information on special immigrant category please click here.

What if I have been outside the U.S. for longer than 12 months?

Permanent resident aliens who are unable to return to the United States within the travel validity period of the Alien Registration Receipt Card, or the Reentry Permit, may apply to the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw for a special immigrant returning resident (SB-1) visa. To qualify for such status aliens must show that:

  • they were lawful permanent residents when they departed the United States;
  • when they departed they intended to return to the United States and have maintained this intent;
  • they are returning from a temporary visit abroad and, if the stay was protracted, that it was caused by reasons beyond their control and for which they were not responsible; and
  • they are eligible for the immigrant visa in all other respects.

Important: Conditional residents of the United States who fail to file an application to have conditional resident status removed are required to apply for a new immigrant visa. They are not eligible to apply as a returning resident.

How do I apply for a returning resident visa?

Applicants in Poland who wish to apply for returning resident (SB-1) visas may schedule their afternoon appointments at the Immigrant Visa Unit either online at www.ustraveldocs.com/pl/ or through the call center at +48 22 307 1361 in Poland or (703) 988 7101 in the United States. Applicants in Belarus may call a toll free number 8 820 0011 0261. Appointments are available between 1:30 and 2:30 pm Monday thru Friday, except for American and Polish public holidays.

Applicants should schedule their appointments well in advance of their intended travel (at least three months) to permit sufficient time for visa processing.

Please bring completed form DS-117 (Applications to Determine Returning Resident Status, PDF – 24.05 kb) with you when you come to apply for returning resident status.

What is the fee for processing a returning resident visa?

The fee for filing form DS-117 and determining returning resident status is USD 180.
The SB1 immigrant visa application fee, which you will be required to pay if the returning resident status is granted to you by a consular officer, is USD 205.

Both fees are payable at the Consular Section’s cashier only, in U.S. dollars or the equivalent in Polish currency at the Embassy’s exchange rate; in cash or by a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Novus/Discover or Diners only). Checks are not accepted. Both fees are non-refundable.

Can I still receive a nonimmigrant visa if my application for a returning resident immigrant visa is denied?

If an application for returning resident visa is refused on the grounds that the alien has given up his residence in the United States, he may apply for a nonimmigrant visa, but must qualify for such a visa under the law. This includes the demonstration of residence abroad to which he will return and the intent to use appropriately a nonimmigrant visa. If the applicant wishes to return to the United States permanently, he may have to apply for an immigrant visa on the same basis by which he immigrated originally, if that is possible.

For further information on returning resident visas please check the State Department’s website.

Persons who will create employment for at least ten unrelated persons by investing a minimum of $1,000,000 in a new commercial enterprise in the U.S. or at least $500,000 where the investment is being made in a “targeted employment area”.

Find out more information by visiting the Travel State Immigrant Investor Visas page.