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Permanent Work Visa USA – Apply from Nigeria

Permanent work visas are offered to foreign nationals who wish to work and live in the United States on a permanent basis. Permanent Work visas are available under the immigrant visa route, and make you eligible to apply for a U.S. Green Card (permanent residence).

Understanding which visa is right for you can be very complicated, especially if you are applying from abroad. IAS are here to help.

Contact us online or call us today on +44 (0) 331630092 in the US or on +23413438882 in Nigeria, or visit our office in Lagos.

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    Benefits of Choosing IAS USA Immigration Lawyers

    When it comes to obtaining a USA visa or permit, IAS USA immigration lawyers are well-equipped to help you.

    With IAS’s track record of successfully helping clients visit or immigrate to the United States, we can help businesses and individuals achieve their goals.

    Our dedicated immigration lawyers provide our services through a comprehensive and personalised approach. With IAS, you enjoy:

    Compassionate support from an experienced immigration lawyer dedicated to your success

    Support in gathering supporting documents and completing a high-quality application.

    Confidence that your case is being handled by an experienced team.

    In-house document checks done by lawyers who are well-versed in US immigration matters.

    Regardless of what your USA immigration query might be, IAS is here to help and support you. Call us or enquire online to learn more about how we can help you.

    Services we Provide

    Want to Work in the United States?

    IAS is a team of expert immigration lawyers that can help you build your home and career in the USA. We can help you with your application process and with permanently settling you and your family abroad.

    Let us help you with your exciting journey.

    Nigerian Emigration

    For Nigerian emigration matters, please call +44 (0) 3316300929 or +23413438882

    Other Immigration and Emigration Matters

    For immigration/emigration to/from other countries, please call:

    US –  +1 844 290 6312

    Ireland –  (+353) 061 518 025

    UK –  (+44) 333 4149244

    What Is a U.S. Work Visa?

    A U.S. work visa is a highly sought after visa opportunity that allows foreign nationals to live and work in the U.S. on a permanent basis. Nigerian applicants can gain a work permit by applying for one of two types of visas: a non-immigrant visa or an immigrant visa.

    Non Immigrant Visa

    Non immigrant visas allow foreign nationals to travel to the United States on a temporary, short term basis. This visa is issued for tourism, studying, getting medical treatment, and business purposes, and offers some working rights for certain lines of temporary work. For example, you may apply for a non-immigrant visa if you are travelling to the U.S. as an au pair, or if you have been recognised as having extraordinary talents in the arts, business, education, sciences or sports.

    Immigrant Visa

    The rest of this page outlines everything you need to know about immigrant visas, i.e. permanent work visas.

    If you wish to move to the United States to live and work on a permanent basis, you must apply for a permanent work visa under the immigrant visa category. In most cases, you will be required to have someone sponsor you, such as a family member or an employer, unless you are able to petition for yourself – Fifth Preference visas usually allow you to do this as an investor.

    Please note that immigrant visas are not the same as a Green Card, but is the type of visa you need if you plan on obtaining permanent residence in the U.S. in future.

    Visa Waiver Program

    The Visa Waiver Program (VWP) allows foreign citizens of certain countries to travel and work in the United States without needing to apply for a visa.

    The Visa Waiver Program is not available for Nigerian citizens. However, if you have dual citizenship in a country that is included on the VWP list, then this route could be a good option for you depending on your work visa needs.

    Exceptions may apply if you are travelling for military or diplomatic purposes.

    What Are the Eligibility Criteria for a Permanent Work Visa in the USA?

    There are many different types of work visas available in the U.S. for a foreign worker, and many routes allow you to apply for permanent residence. The different types of eligible work categories are outlined below.

    Living and working in the United States offers many exciting opportunities for you, your family, and your business. A permanent work visa allows you to live and earn in the U.S., a lucrative decision considering the U.S. dollar is one of the most stable currencies in the world.

    There are great benefits to starting a business in the U.S. too, and could offer the opportunity and connections to open doors to further expansion worldwide.

    Understanding which visa is the right one for you can be very difficult. We understand that you want to be sure you are following the right route and application process for your personal situation. We can help.

    Contact us online or call us today on +44 (0) 3316300929 in the U.S. or on +23413438882 in Nigeria, or visit our office in Lagos.

    First Preference Immigrant Worker (EB-1)

    First Preference Immigrant Worker visas are offered to foreign nationals who are deemed to have ‘extraordinary ability’ in their particular field.

    You might be considered for this visa if you meet one of the following criteria:

    • Have extraordinary abilities in arts, athletics, business, education, or sciences
    • Are an outstanding researcher or professor
    • Are a multinational manager or executive.

    Applicants of Extraordinary Ability

    Applicants who are applying for an EB-1 visa under the extraordinary ability category must be able to prove with extensive documentation that they have been recognised to national or international acclaim in their field of expertise.

    You will need to provide evidence of a one-time, major internationally-recognised achievement, e.g. the Pulitzer prize, Nobel prize or an Oscar. Otherwise, you will need to prove examples of:

    • Leading in a critical role in an acclaimed organisation
    • Being well-renowned and frequently published in your field
    • Being a member of an association that demands outstanding achievement from its members
    • Being highly paid comparative to others in your field on the same level
    • Evidence of major original artistic, athletic, business, scholarly or scientific contributions to your field

    You do not need to have received a job offer in order to apply for this visa, and you can file your own petition using Form I-140.

    Outstanding Professors and Researchers

    Applicants who are applying for an EB-1 visa under the outstanding professors and researchers category must be able to prove that they have at least threehree years of experience teaching or conducting research, and must be internationally recognised.

    Applicants must be moving to the U.S. to pursue tenure, tenure track teaching, or a comparable position in research activities at a university or other higher education institution.

    The applicant must have a job offer from a U.S. employer file a petition on their behalf by filing Form I-140.

    Multinational Managers or Executives

    Applicants who are applying for an EB-1 visa under the multinational managers or executives category must be able to prove that they have been employed for at least one of the three previous years by an overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of their U.S employer.

    The applicant must have been in a managerial or executive position in their work abroad and must continue working within these job tiers in the U.S.

    The applicant must have an offer of employment and a U.S employer must file a petition on their behalf by filing Form I-140.

    Are you a Nigerian whose goal is to work in the US, but are unsure of how to go about the visa application process? Talk to our immigration lawyers about obtaining a permanent work visa.

    Second Preference Immigrant Worker (E2)

    You may be abble to apply for an Second Preference immigrant worker if you meet one of the following criteria:

    • Work in a profession that requires an advanced degree
    • Have exceptional abilities in the arts, business, or sciences
    • Are seeking a national interest waiver

    Applicants applying for an E2 visa usually need to submit a labor certification approved by the Department of Labor. Your employer will need to file a petition on your behalf by filing Form I-140.

    Professionals Holding an Advanced Degree

    Applicants who are applying for an E2 visa under the subcategory of ‘professionals holding an advanced degree’ must have a minimum of five years professional experience where career progression is clear.

    Persons with Exceptional Ability

    Applicants who are applying for an E2 visa under the subcategory of ‘persons with exceptional ability’ must be able to prove that they have a degree of expertise and above ordinary talents or achievements in their field, usually in the sciences, arts, or business.

    Third Preference Immigrant Worker (E3)

    You will be considered a Third Preference immigrant worker if you meet one of the following criteria:

    • Are a skilled worker with a minimum of 2 years of training or work experience
    • Are a professional worker with at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent
    • Are an unskilled worker who will be performing unskilled labour.

    Skilled Workers

    Applicants who are applying for an E3 visa under the skilled workers category must have trained or have work experience for a minimum of two years in their field. Temporary or seasonal experience will not be accepted.


    Applicants who are applying for an E3 visa under the professional category should have a job that requires least a baccalaureate degree from a U.S university or college, or the foreign equivalent.

    Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)

    Applicants who are applying for an E3 visa under the unskilled/other workers category should prove that they are capable of fulfilling job roles that require less than two years of training or experience. Temporary and seasonal work or experience will not be accepted.

    Fourth Preference Immigrant Worker: Certain Special Immigrants (E4)

    You may be eligible for a Fourth Preference immigrant worker if you meet one of the following criteria:

    • You are a beneficiary of an approved Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant Form I-360
    • Fit into one of the subgroups below:
      • Broadcaster in the USA
      • Minister of Religion and certain religious workers
      • Employees or former employees of the U.S Government abroad
      • Are or have been an employee of the Panama Canal Company or Panama Canal Zone
      • Are a certain foreign medical graduate
      • Are a certain retired employee of an international organisations or NATO-6 civilians (or their spouses or children)
      • A special immigrant juvenile
      • Are a foreign national who has served for the U.S. Armed Forces.

    Fifth Preference Immigrant Worker (E5)

    You may be eligible for a Fifth Preference immigrant worker if you are an immigrant investor. 140,000 employment based immigrant visas are offered to foreign investors each fiscal year in the U.S. Other categories of this type of visa are:

    • C5 – Employment creation outside a targeted area
    • I5 – Investor Pilot Program in a targeted area
    • R5 – Investor Pilot Program not in a targeted area
    • T5 – Employment creation in a targeted rural/high unemployment area

    In order to qualify, you must invest without having to borrow from elsewhere a minimum of:

    • $1,000,000 USD, or
    • $500,000 USD in a high unemployment or rural area

    Your investment must also create at least 10 full-time employment opportunities within the first two years of investment. This cannot include hiring family members or partners

    In order to maximise your chances of a successful visa application, speak with our experienced lawyers

    What Documents Do I Need to Apply for a Permanent Work Visa?

    Each work visa application requires different documentation, and each applicant has a unique circumstance so may require other documents that are not listed below. However, in general, if you are applying from Nigeria, you will be required to submit the following documents:

    • Certificate of Birth or Adoption Certificate
    • Marriage or Divorce Certificates, if applicable
    • Nigerian National Identity Card
    • Any police, court, or prison records, if applicable
    • Military records, if applicable
    • Your current valid passport or other valid travel document
    • Education credentials and relevant qualifications according to the visa you are applying for.

    How Much Does a Permanent Work Visa Cost?

    Permanent work immigrant visa prices vary according to which visa type you are applying for.

    In general, the prices are as follows. Please note that costs are subject to change:

    Employment-based applications: $345 USD

    • I-140
    • I-526

    Other Immigrant Visa Applications: $205 USD

    • I-360 Self-petitioners applicants
    • Special Immigrant visa applicants
    • SB-1 returning resident applicants
    • All others except DV program selectees.

    How Do I Apply for the U.S. Permanent Work Visa?

    Visa applications can be made from inside the U.S. or abroad. You can apply through the U.S Consulate in Lagos if you are applying from Nigeria.

    Usually, a sponsor or family member must file the application on your behalf, unless you are considered able to petition on your own behalf (this is often offered to investors, for example). The application must be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

    You will be required to follow these steps:

    1. Submit a Petition for USCIS approval
    2. Await NVC Processing
    3. Pay Fees
    4. Have your sponsor sign an Affidavit of Support (Form I-864), which accepts financial responsibility for the applicant
    1. Submit Financial Documents
    2. Complete the Online Application for Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration (Form DS-260)
    3. Collect civil documents
    4. Scan documents
    5. Submit documents
    6. Prepare for your interview
    7. Attend applicant interview
    8. Wait for the decision

    Applying for a visa in the USA can be overwhelming, as it can be difficult to know if you are choosing the right visa for your personal needs. It can also be complicated if you are struggling to access certain documents, or if you have previous criminal convictions.

    Contact us online or call us today on +44 (0) 3316300929 in the U.S. or on +23413438882 in Nigeria, or visit our office in Lagos.

    How Can IAS Help?

    Many Nigerians and other foreign nationals from all over the world apply to work in the U.S. permanently every year. Each individual has various different reasons and goals for their time spent in the U.S., whether it’s moving for a dream job, to build an exciting business, to be closer to family, or simply for the desire to spend time working and living in the United States.

    Whatever your reasons, we appreciate that the decision to move to the U.S. is a very big step, that requires a lot of time planning, filling out application forms, and organising your finances and your personal life. This can be an overwhelming task, especially if you currently work full time. It can be difficult to understand exactly what you need to do to apply for a work visa in the U.S., and whether you are choosing the right route for you.

    If you have applied for an employment based immigrant visa to work in the U.S. previously and your application has been refused, this can be extremely disheartening. But hope is not lost – we can help you.

    IAS can offer you a team of expert immigration lawyers who can guide you through the entire application process, as well as support you with the legalities of moving you and your family abroad. We also help businesses with the big move.

    Contact us online or call us today on +44 (0) 3316300929 in the U.S. or on +23413438882 in Nigeria, or visit our office in Lagos.

    We offer immigration advice sessions as face to face appointments at our Lagos office, all of our UK offices, or via the phone.

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    Frequently Asked Questions

    Whether you are a permanent work visa holder or a Green Card holder, both allow you the opportunity to work and live in the United States. However, some work visas are restrictive in terms of how much time you can spend in the U.S., and must be renewed when they expire, whereas a Green Card offers permanent residency, plus additional benefits, for at least 10 years.

    A Green Card cannot be obtained without an initial permanent work visa. Below are the key differences between a non-immigrant visa, an immigrant visa, and a Green Card.

    Non Immigrant Visa Immigrant Visa Green Card
    Can Obtain Before Arrival in US? Yes Yes No
    Have an expiration date or require renewal? Yes Yes No
    Gives you permanent residence in the USA? No No, but you can apply for a Green Card with this visa Yes
    Allows you to apply for citizenship? No No, but is a pathway to gaining the Green Card, which does allow you to apply Yes

    The United States offers 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas per year.

    This number includes an applicant’s eligible spouses and minor children. Therefore, the number of individuals who are granted the permanent work visa themselves is much less. This is important to keep in mind when applying for a work visa to the U.S, as millions of people from around the world apply to move to the U.S. each year.

    Yes, you are entitled to switch from one visa to another. You may also switch from a non immigrant visa to an immigrant visa.

    To do this, you must file an application request to change you immigration status with USCIS before your current visa expires. It is recommended that you do this as soon as you come to understand your need or desire to change your status. You should not change your circumstances until you have received visa approval from USCIS.

    You must also ensure that you:

    • Were admitted to the U.S lawfully
    • Your current status is still valid
    • You have not violated any of the terms of your visa
    • You have not committed any crimes during your stay.

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