Your options for an employment-based green card
Employment-based green cards are one of the most common ways foreign workers can get permanent legal status. There are several methods for obtaining this kind of green card, such as through a job offer, investment, self-petition, or specialized jobs. However, both you and your employer must meet the requirements for the chosen immigrant category.
Green cards based on a job offer
If you’re offered a job in the US and need a green card, the application process is typically started by your employer. Your employer needs to get a labor certification and also file Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker). If approved, you’ll be granted a green card through employment.
Immigrants must fit into one of several categories to qualify for a green card. EB-1 priority workers have skills and experience that makes them the first preference for an employer in the US. They could be the manager of a multinational company, a university professor, or even a medical researcher.
Green cards based on extraordinary ability or national interest
If you don’t qualify in the EB-1 category, you must fit into another green card category to be eligible for permanent residence in the US. The EB-2 green card process is available to people with an extraordinary ability or a national interest waiver. In this case, you can file a petition for a green card yourself (known as a self-petition).
EB-2 green card holders typically have advanced degrees or extraordinary ability in the sciences. The US grants green cards to people with extraordinary abilities because these workers benefit the US economy through their work. Applying for an EB-2 visa is one of the fastest ways to attain legal permanent residence in the US. However, eligibility is based on a wide range of factors.
To apply for an EB-2 green card, you must have a job offer and labor certification. There is an exception if you have a national interest waiver. Either way, there are forms that need to be filled out with US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
Forms I-140 and I-360 are the standard green card petition forms. More information about these forms is found in Section 101(a) (27) of the Immigration and Nationality Act. An immigration attorney can also help you figure out which forms you need to fill out.
Green cards through specialized jobs and circumstances
Some people are eligible for a green card by filling specialized jobs that are in demand in the US. For instance, religious workers, broadcasters, translators, and physicians can all apply for an employment-based green card. EB-3 visas are reserved for skilled workers and EB-4 visas are for ministers and religious workers.
Other specialized categories include NATO-6 nonimmigrant, Panama Canal employees, and Iraqis who assisted the US government. Most of the time, these green card holders fit under the EB-3 category because of special circumstances. Finally, children can petition for green cards for their parents after they turn 21.
Green cards based on investment in the US
Green cards are also available to entrepreneurs and investors who are contributing to the US economy. These green cards are reserved for people who create or preserve at least 10 permanent jobs.
Employment-based green cards for investments typically fit under the EB-5 category.
Temporary work permits
It's important to note that not all green card holders apply through 1 of the 5 EB methods. H1-B visas are often a first route. An H-1B visa is a temporary work permit for the US. It does not guarantee permanent US residence in the future, but it is a good way to prove worth and value to the US as an immigrant worker. Many people waiting for an EB visa also apply for an H-1B.
If you’re not eligible to adjust your status in the US to permanent resident through employment, you will have your immigrant petition sent to the US consulate abroad to work on the visa process. Attaining a green card will then be based on the visa availability and priority dates.
If you're having difficulty navigating the employment-based green card application process, an immigration attorney can help. The process is often difficult and complex, especially when applying for EB-2 status when an employer is not there to help.