There are 140,000 green card immigrant visas issued each year based on employment. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), immigrants that qualify for these visas either have special skills, are sponsored by an employer or they open new businesses with at least $1,000,000 that will provide full-time jobs to 10 or more U.S. workers.

Foreign nationals that have certain job skills, prominent levels of education and/or unique work experience can apply for the EB-1 through EB-5 immigration permanent worker visas. There are five different immigrant employment visa categories, each with different requirements.

Five Permanent Worker Immigrant Visa Categories

Employment-based immigration categories EB-1 through EB-5 allow foreign nationals to live and work in America. They are allowed to live here permanently while applying for a green card, provided they are eligible for immigrant visa preference categories and have job offers.

EB-1 – Individuals with extraordinary abilities, researchers, professors, executives, entertainers and more may qualify for employment-based immigration under the EB-1 preference. Individuals interested in the extraordinary ability classification must demonstrate that they have significant international recognition. They can do so by providing documentation of their background or proof that they have earned significant awards such as Olympic Medals.

EB-2 – The EB-2 employment-based preference visa is available to individuals that hold advanced degrees, exceptional abilities or a National Interest Waiver. To qualify, your job must require a master’s degree and two years of experience or a bachelor’s degree and five years of experience. Additionally, individuals that can demonstrate they have exceptional abilities in science, art or commerce may qualify. Finally, sometimes the Labor Certification requirement can be waived for individuals that would benefit the United States by working or living here.

EB-3 – For employment preference category EB-3, which leads to a green card, workers must either be a “skilled worker” a “professional” or fall into the “other workers” classification. Skilled workers are workers that have two or more years of job experience or training that was full-time. Professionals are individuals that have at least a bachelor’s degree from a foreign university and who are skilled. Finally, the third classification can be for workers that are unskilled laborers in occupations that do not require very much training or work experience. It can be difficult to identify the proper classification without the assistance of an immigration attorney.

EB-4 – The EB-4 permanent worker preference category is a catch-all category reserved for “special immigrants.” Special immigrants can include people that work in religious organizations, certain foreigners who work for the U.S abroad, international civil servants that are retired, such as United Nations workers, or other special cases. One of the most important reasons to consult with an attorney if you don’t fall into the other four categories is to figure out if you can get a permanent resident status based on past employment. EB-4 preference applications are especially important for individuals that are retired, but believe they fall into the exception category.

EB-5 – The EB-5 permanent worker preference is limited to wealthy business investors that can demonstrate two things. First, they must be able to demonstrate that they will invest in America with at least $500,000 in a specific employment area or $1,000,000 in a new company. Second, they must also be able to demonstrate that their investments and businesses will lead to at least 10 full-time positions for U.S. workers. An EB-5 permanent worker preference is one of the most difficult ways to get a green card because it requires extensive paperwork, economic assessments as well as significant financial resources. However, for the right person, it is a clear path to permanent residency and then eventually citizenship.

Labor Certification

Of the five employment-preference categories, EB-2 and EB-3 both require a labor certification to be filed with and approved by the U.S. Department of Labor. The labor certification must be completed and approved before your employer can submit an immigration petition to the USCIS on your behalf.

A labor certification application to the Department of Labor states that the employer could not find any U.S. workers in their location to do the work and that hiring an immigrant will not negatively affect the wages of U.S. workers in similar positions.

If you are applying for a permanent green card based on employment through either the EB-2 or EB-3 preference categories, your employer must first receive an approved labor certification before they can sponsor your permanent worker visa. Once the employers receive an approval from the Department of Labor, they can move forward with a permanent worker green card immigration petition.

Immigration Attorneys Guiding You through the Process

Work visas are becoming more and more difficult to obtain in the United States of America. As such, it is very important for foreign nationals to use the permanent immigrant visas based on employment.

Any one single decision while you are an employee can impact your chances of being granted permanent residency. It is vital that all employees who wish to remain in the U.S. as permanent residents consult with an experienced immigration attorney.

Depending on your individual circumstances – your job and the work visa that you currently hold – your pathway to a green card will be unique. Only someone who knows immigration law and your individual circumstances can help. We invite you to explore our network of immigration attorneys and reach out to a legal professional that best meets your needs.

*The content and materials available via Ask Ellis are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice.

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