Green Card Through Employment

Getting a green card through employment allows over 100,000 foreign-born persons and their spouses and unmarried minor children to immigrate to the United States each year.

Typically, an employer goes through the PERM process where they must advertise the job and demonstrate to the U.S. Department of Labor that no minimally qualified U.S. workers applied for the job.  The employer is required to pay the worker at the prevailing wage in the geographical area or the actual wage, whichever is higher.

However, the PERM process is not required for persons in the EB-1 Priority Worker category, for those who qualify as Persons of Exceptional Ability, for National Interest Waivers or for Registered Nurses and Physical Therapists.

Typically, getting a green card through employment is a 3-step process:

  • Approval of a PERM application;
  • Approval of an Employment-Based (EB) Visa Petition (Form I-140) which must be filed within 180 days of the approval of the PERM application; and
  • Approval of an application for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) if the applicant is in the U.S. or an application for an Immigrant Visa abroad.

A green card through employment may be applied for in the following 3 categories:

  • EB-1 Green Cards for Priority Workers

This category is divided into 3 sub-categories:

  • Persons of Extraordinary Ability (Self-Petition is Permitted.)

This category is restricted to those who meet 3 of the following 10 criteria:

   -  Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally- recognized prizes or awards for excellence in the field of endeavor;

  -  Membership in associations in the field for which classification is sought, which require outstanding achievements of their members;

  - Published material about the person in professional or major trade publications or other major media, relating to the person’s work in the field for which classification is sought;

  - Participation as a judge of the work of others in the same or an allied field;

  - Original scientific, scholarly, artistic, athletic, or business- related contributions of major significance;

  - Authorship of scholarly articles in professional or major trade publications or other major media;

  - Display of work at artistic exhibitions or showcases;

  - Performance in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation;

  - A high salary or other significantly high remuneration for services; or

  - Commercial success in the performing arts.

  • Outstanding Professors and Researchers

This requires that the person have a tenure-track faculty position or a permanent offer of employment, and have a minimum of 3 years of teaching or research experience.

In addition, the person must satisfy at least 2 of the following 6 criteria:

  • Received major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement;
  • Be a member of associations that require outstanding achievement;
  • Published material (written by others) about your research;
  • Served as judge of the work of others in your field;
  • Contributed original work to your field; and/or,
  • Authored scholarly articles or publications.
  • Multinational Executives and Managers

Such persons are required to demonstrate that they were employed by a company affiliated with their current U.S. employer as a manager or executive outside the U.S. for at least 1 of the last 3 years before coming to the U.S.  To qualify as a manager, a person must manage either professionals or supervisors. 

  • EB-2 Advanced Degree Professionals

This category is for members of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent.  The attainment of a Bachelor’s  degree  plus 5 years of professional experience is usually deemed to be the equivalent of an advanced degree.

Typically, their employers of EB-2 professionals must advertise the job and demonstrate to the U.S. Department of Labor that no minimally qualified U.S. worker applied for the job.  This is known as a PERM application.

However, the following are exceptions to the PERM requirement:

  • Persons of Exceptional Ability

The employee is required to meet at least 3 of the following criteria:

  • Official academic record showing that you have a degree from an institution of learning relating to your area of exceptional ability;
  • Letters documenting 10 years or more of experience in the occupation;
  • A license to practice your profession or certification for your profession or occupation;
  • Evidence that you have commanded a salary for services that demonstrates your exceptional ability;
  • Membership in a professional association(s);
  • Recognition for your achievements and significant contributions to your industry or field by your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations; or
  • Other comparable evidence of eligibility is also acceptable.
  • National Interest Waivers (Self-Petition is Permitted.)

A national interest waiver may be granted if the employee meets the following criteria:

              (1) The proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance;

(2) You are well positioned to advance the proposed endeavor; and

(3) It would be beneficial to the U.S. to waive the job offer and PERM requirements.

Physicians employed by the Veterans Administration or in a Medically-Underserved Area have their own unique requirements for qualifying for a National Interest Waiver.

  • EB-3 Professionals, Skilled and Unskilled Workers

For this category, the employer must follow the PERM wage and advertising requirements.  Only if no minimally qualified U.S. workers apply for the job will the Labor Department approve the PERM application.

It should be noted that Registered Nurses (RNs) and Physical Therapists (PTs) are both classified by the Labor Department as Schedule A Shortage Occupations.  As such, while employers are subject to wage requirements, they may sponsor RNs and PTs for green cards without having to undergo the PERM process.

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