An immigrant is a Non-U.S. citizen who is authorized to permanently work and reside in the United States. Immigrants are also referred to as legal permanent residents, permanent residents, and green card holders. A green card is the document which proves you are a legal permanent resident.
In most cases, to become a permanent resident you must be sponsored by an employer or family member. Obtaining permanent residence through employment is a very complicated process that involves a great deal of procedure. This article provides an overview of how one can obtain a green card through employment.
To obtain permanent residence through employment, you must fall within one of the five categories listed and explained below:
First Preference: Priority Workers (E1)
The priority worker category is a privileged class divided into three subgroups:
Extraordinary Ability: Foreign nationals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics are eligible for permanent residence through employment. Candidates in this category must provide extensive documentation proving their national and international reputations and are required to have a certain degree of documented recognition in their field of competence.
Outstanding Professors or Researchers: Foreign nationals who are outstanding professors or researchers with at least three years experience in teaching or research and who are internationally recognized may gain permanent residence through employment.
Managers and Executives: Foreign nationals who are managers and executives subject to international transfer to the United States may obtained permanent residence through employment.
Second Preference: High Level Professionals (E2)
The second preference of foreign nationals who are eligible for a permanent residence is made up of professionals with higher degrees, or persons of exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business. To qualify under the second preference you must fall within one of two categories:
1. Professionals holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years of progressive experience in the profession; or
2. Persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences, or business. Exceptional ability means having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered within the field.
Third Preference: Skilled Professionals (E3)
To be eligible as a third preference candidate you must fall within one of the following categories:
1. Individuals holding a bachelor’s degree and who work in a field that requires such a degree;
2. Skilled workers with at least two years of training and experience and who work in a field that requires at least two years of training and experience; or
3. Those capable of performing unskilled labor of a nature which is not temporary or seasonal for which no U.S. workers are available.
Fourth Preference: Special Immigrants
You will be eligible of for a green card as a special immigrant if you fall within any of the following categories:
1. Foreign religious workers;
2. U.S. Government employees working abroad;
3. Retired employees of international organizations;
4. A legal permanent resident or conditional resident who may have the status of a “Returning Resident” after having spent more than 12 months out of the United States; or
5. Various other agency specific classes of individuals (eg. Broadcasters in the U.S. employed by the International Broadcasting Bureau of the Broadcasting Board of Governors or a grantee of such organization).
Fifth Preference: Investor Immigrants
You may obtain a green card by investing in the U.S. The fifth preference essentially permits foreign nationals to buy their way into the U.S. To qualify as an investor immigrant, candidates must have invested or be actively in the process of investing at least $1,000,000 USD in a company in the U.S. that they will direct and control. If the investment is made in a new enterprise, the company the immigrant will be starting in the U.S. must create full-time jobs for at least ten U.S. workers (U.S. citizens or other permanent residents).
Alternatively, an investment of $500,000 USD may also be enough if the company is located in a “targeted employment area” designated in the United States.