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Employer Sponsored Green Card

What is an employment sponsored green card?

Employment-based visas are permanent worker immigrant visas that allow the holder to apply for lawful permanent residency in the U.S. and obtain a green card. The purpose of this is to allow qualified and skilled foreign nationals into the U.S. to work and become lawful permanent residents. Common employment-sponsored visas include:

1) EB-1(c) visa – Individual with a qualifying job offer in the U.S. who is a capable and skilled manager or executive.
2) EB-2 visa - Individual with a qualifying job offer in the U.S. who has an advanced degree or an exceptional ability.
3) EB-3 visa - Individual with a qualifying job offer in the U.S. who is a skilled worker, a competent professional, or another type of eligible worker.

Employment-based visas are valid for a period of ten years. They are capped yearly and divided into five preferential categories. EB-1(c) visas are in the first preference category, EB-2 visas are in the second preference category, and EB-3 visas are in the third preference. Preference status is important because applying for an employment-based visa can be a waiting game. Generally, those in the first preference category will be approved faster than those in the second or third categories.

Do I qualify for an employment sponsored green card?

For all visas listed above, the applicant must have a qualifying sponsor employer who will file on behalf of the foreign national. The employer needs to have been established in the U.S. for at least a year and must be conducting significant business in the U.S. The employer also needs to go through an in-depth recruiting process to show that no U.S. citizens are qualified for their advertised job and they must seek workers outside of the U.S. to fill those permanent positions.

For the EB-1(c) visa, the applicant must be a manager or executive. They can also be individuals who may not have that title but perform duties of a manager or executive, generally with supervisory or decision-making powers. They must have been working at the sponsoring company for at least one out of the past three years and must have a firm and permanent job offer at the U.S. company.

To qualify for the EB-2 visa the applicant must have an advanced degree or an exceptional ability. An advanced degree is shown by having more than a bachelor’s degree. They would also need to show proof of working at least five or more years in the field that they obtained their degree in. The exceptional ability is usually established by having a specialized degree and having significant and recognized accomplishments in one of the fields of art, science, athletics, or business. There is a waiver for this category that allows the applicant to self-sponsor if the job they will be performing is in the national interest of the U.S.

For the EB-3 visa, the applicant must be a skilled worker, a competent professional, or another type of eligible worker. A skilled worker is a foreign worker who has at least two years of training or experience in a certain field. A professional is generally seen as someone who has a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university but doesn’t hold an advanced degree. Other types of eligible workers who qualify are those that do not have a bachelor’s degree and do not have two years of skilled training. Regardless, the sponsor company deems them necessary because it cannot find U.S. workers to fill the position. They cannot be seasonal or temporary employees.

What is the process to apply for an employment sponsored green card?

All three visas must be applied for by the applicant’s sponsoring employer. To do this, the employer must first register with the U.S. Department of Labor and obtain a Permanent Labor Certification. To be approved, the company needs to show that no U.S. job seekers are qualified for the work, a foreign worker is needed to fill the position, and that the pay for the position is a fair-market rate.

Once the employer has the certification approved, they need to fill our form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). After this form is filed, both the employer and the employee must wait until the applicant’s priority date becomes current. This process can have an extreme waiting period. Priority dates are limited and only a certain number from each preference category are approved each year. The categories are also capped by country. A lot of employment-based visa requests come from China and India. Applicants from those countries can expect a higher wait time than applicants from other countries.

If the applicant is in the U.S. and their priority date becomes current, they can file form I-485, petition to adjust status and obtain a green card. This is common if the applicant was already in the U.S. under a different nonimmigrant visa. If the applicant is outside of the U.S. and their priority date becomes current, they would need to go through a U.S. Embassy or consulate for processing.