What is an Employment Based Green Card?
One of the most common paths for immigrants to get a green card is through an employer sponsor. Employment-based green cards allow employees to live and work in the United States as a permanent resident. Many of these employees have already been working in the U.S. with temporary nonimmigrant visas. When employers want to hire workers permanently, they can help them apply for a green card through employment.
What are Employment-Based Green Card Categories?
The first step for employers sponsoring green cards for foreign employees is to identify which of the five categories their employees best qualify under. These employment-based green card categories are based on the applicants’ experience, skills and abilities. These are the five employment-based (EB) categories:
- EB-1: Is for employees with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics, as well as for professors, researchers and Ph.D. holders. It is also for people working as managers and executives in the U.S. as international transfers ( L1 Intra Company transfer holders may qualify for the EB-1C).
- EB-2: Is for employees with exceptional ability in a field of science, arts or business, and professionals with an advanced degree and relevant experience.
- EB-3: Is for professionals with postgraduate degrees, people with Bachelor’s degrees combined with specific work experience and specifically skilled workers. This category can also include workers with training and/or experience in labor for which the employer cannot find qualified workers in the U.S. who are capable of doing the work.
- EB-4: Is for Special Immigrant and Religious Workers and covers a range of very defined groups, each of which has specific requirements.
- EB-5: Is for immigrants who invest in new or existing commercial enterprises (including troubled businesses), in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA) or in regional centers designated by USCIS.
What is the Application Process?
As an employer who plans to sponsor at least one green card through employment, it is vitally important that you fully understand the employer-based green card process. As an employee who is hoping for a green card through employment, it is important to know what documents and information must be provided to your prospective employer and to have everything ready in a timely manner. So what is the application process?
1. Employer files a PERM Application. Through the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) System, the U.S. Government process ensures that:
- There are no workers in the current pool who are qualified, available and willing to fill the position.
- And the wages or salary offered are reasonable for the labor market.
Once the PERM Application is accepted, employers can take the next step.
2. Employer submits Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, with USCIS. This application will determine that the business wanting to employ workers has the resources to pay them their salaries once they are working in the U.S.
3. Receive a “Priority Date” for applying for your visa. Receiving this “Priority Date” is an exciting step. It means the employee has met all of the prerequisites for receiving a green card and will be able to apply for it when their window of opportunity opens.
4. Check the U.S. Department of State monthly Visa Bulletin for when your “Priority Date” becomes current so you can submit your application for your green card. Once these steps have been completed, there are two ways to apply for your green card:
- Those living outside of the U.S. must use the “consular process.” This means that you must work with the National Visa Center (NVC) to submit the appropriate fees. Once the fees have been paid, you need to submit all of the application documents, civil documents and any other necessary documents.
- Those already living in the U.S. through lawful entry can apply through an “adjustment of status.” Many applicants are already living and working in the U.S. with temporary work visas like the O-1, H-1B, L-1 or TN. A key benefit to this pathway is that applicants can submit for adjustment of status while in the U.S. and remain there while it is processing. The typical employment-based green card application package includes:
- I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
- I-944, Declaration of Self-Sufficiency
- I-693, Report of Medical Examination and Vaccination
- I-765, Application for Employment Authorization (optional)
- I-131, Application for Travel Document (optional)
Other supporting documents will likely need to be submitted as requested or required by individual situations.
The employer-based green card process can be rather extensive and complicated. Any errors in applications, missing documents, missed deadlines, unpaid fees or other problems, can cause delays in the processing of a green card application. Because of these complications, it is highly recommended that applicants seek help with the application process. This is also true for employers who want to hire foreign workers but do not have the time, expertise or resources to go through the process on their own.
Legalpad has worked with many startups to secure employment-based green cards for necessary employees. Our passion is in helping companies focus their efforts on what they do best, while we use our smart software, experience with the process and legal experts to quickly work through the green card application process.