One of the most desired and difficult to obtain immigration benefits is legal permanent resident (green card) status through employment. Approximately 140,000 immigrant visas are available each fiscal year for foreign nationals who seek to immigrant to the United States based on their job skills. For most immigrants, this route requires a U.S. employer “sponsor.” Depending on the skills, education, occupation and nationality of the foreign national, this process can be relatively quick (as little as several months) or fairly long (many years) and is rife with complexities, technicalities and strict requirements. Gleason Immigration Law can advise companies on the best approaches for obtaining an employment-based green card for their foreign employees based on each employee’s circumstances and experience.
Most employment-based green card applications consist of three stages.
- STAGE ONE: Attorney Gleason will work closely with the sponsoring employer and its employee to determine the appropriate visa preference category for the employee, obtain a prevailing wage determination, test the regional labor market to demonstrate that here are no U.S. workers available to take the position, and timely file the ETA Form 9089 (PERM) labor certification with the U.S. Department of Labor.
- STAGE TWO: Upon PERM approval, Attorney Gleason will prepare and file an I-140 Immigrant Visa petition with USCIS.
- STAGE THREE: If the I-140 is approved and the employee’s priority date is current, Attorney Gleason will work with foreign national to prepare and file for Adjustment of Status with USCIS, if already in the United States, or Consular Processing at a U.S. Consulate if living abroad.
FIVE VISA PREFERENCE CATEGORIES
Processing times for each stage vary and are based on the foreign national’s permanent worker visa preference category and place of employment within the United States. The five employment-based immigrant visa preference categories are listed below:
First Preference (EB-1):
This preference is reserved for (a) persons of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics, (b) outstanding professors or researchers, and (c) multinational executives and managers. Individuals who qualify under the EB-1 category can avoid the labor certification process.
Second Preference (EB-2):
This preference is reserved for professionals holding advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability in the arts, sciences or business. EB-2 applicants must go through the labor certification process, unless the applicant can get a national interest waiver.
Third Preference (EB-3):
This preference is reserved for professionals, skilled workers and other workers. A labor certification is required.
Fourth Preference (EB-4):
This preference is reserved for “special immigrants,” including religious workers, employees of U.S. foreign service posts, retired employees of international organizations, foreign national minors who are wards of the U.S. courts and other classes of aliens. No labor certification is required.
Fifth Preference (EB-5):
This preference is reserved for business investors who invest $1,000,000 or $500,000 (if the investment is made in a targeted employment area) in a new commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time U.S. workers.