Green Card through Employment
If you wish to obtain a green card through employment, in most cases you will need an employer to sponsor you. Once you have obtained a sponsoring employer, you will need to go through a complex application process that can take anywhere from months to years. The application process is summarized below.
Generally, there are three major steps in becoming a lawful permanent resident in the United States: labor certification (labor certification does not apply to all cases), the petition, and adjustment of status or consular processing.
The labor certification process requires your sponsoring employer to confirm that there are no U.S. workers within the community who are able, qualified, and willing to fill the position you have been offered. The sponsoring employer must also prove to the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”) that hiring you will not adversely impact the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers.
Green Card Petition
After approval of the labor certification, your sponsoring employer must file a petition on your behalf. The purpose of the petition is to show that you do in fact qualify for a green card and that you have been offered a job by a U.S. employer.
Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing
If you are already in the United States, you must apply to adjust from non-immigrant to the permanent resident status once your priority date becomes current. If you are outside of the United States when your priority date is current, you will be notified and must file an immigrant visa application with the National Visa Center.
Preferences and Numerical Restrictions
There are five employment-based preference categories.
1. EB-1: The first preference is for priority workers including persons of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational organization executives and managers. About 40,000 visas a year (28.6% of the employment preference total) may be issued to priority workers. Labor certification is not required for this category.
2. EB-2: The second preference is for members of the professions holding advanced degrees or persons of exceptional ability. About 40,000 visas a year (28.6% of the employment preference total, plus any visas left over from the first preference) may be issued to persons who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or individuals of exceptional ability.
3. EB-3: The third preference is for professionals, skilled, workers, and other workers. About 40,000 visas a year (28.6% of the employment preference total, plus any visas left over from the first and second preferences) may be issued to skilled workers, professionals, and other workers.
4. EB-4: The fourth preference provides for special immigrants including religious workers. About 10,000 visas a year (7.1% of the employment preference total) may be issued to certain special immigrants, including ministers, religious workers, and others.
5. EB-5: The fifth preference is an investor-related category, which grants permanent residency to persons who invest a significant amount of funds in the U.S. and create at least 10 jobs for U.S. workers. About 10,000 visas a year (7.1% of the total) may be issued to qualified individuals seeking permanent resident status on the basis of their engagement in a new commercial enterprise.
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