Employment-based immigration enables a foreign national to become a lawful permanent resident based on the fact that s/he has a permanent employment opportunity in the United States.
Lawful Permanent Residency (LPR), also known as "green card," grants a foreign national the privilege of permanently living and working in the United States. U.S. immigration and nationality law provides for a number of paths to lawful permanent resident. Immigration through employment is one of them.
If you want to become an immigrant based on the fact that you have a permanent employment opportunity in the United States, or if you are an employer that wants to sponsor someone for lawful permanent residency based on permanent employment in the United States, you must go through a multi-step process:
- First, foreign nationals and employers must determine if the foreign national is eligible for lawful permanent residency under one of CIS' paths to lawful permanent residency.
- Second, most employment categories require that the U.S. employer complete a labor certification request (Form ETA 750) for the applicant, and submit it to the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. Labor must either grant or deny the certification request. Qualified alien physicians who will practice medicine in an area of the United States which has been certified as underserved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are relieved from this requirement. You may wish to read more about this program.
- Third, CIS must approve an immigrant visa petition, Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, for the person wishing to immigrate to the United States. The employer wishing to bring the applicant to the United States to work permanently files this petition. However, if a Department of Labor certification is needed the application can only be filed after the certification is granted. The employer acts as the sponsor (or petitioner) for the applicant (or beneficiary) who wants to live and work on a permanent basis in the United States.
- Fourth, the State Department must give the applicant an immigrant visa number, even if the applicant is already in the United States. When the applicant receives an immigrant visa number, it means that an immigrant visa has been assigned to the applicant. You can check the status of a visa number in the Department of State's Visa Bulletin.
- Fifth, if the applicant is already in the United States, he or she must apply to adjust to permanent resident status after a visa number becomes available. You may wish to read about application procedures on becoming a permanent resident while in the United States. If the applicant is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he or she will be notified and must complete the process at his or her local U.S. Consulate office.
There are five categories for granting permanent residence to foreign nationals based on employment skills:
- EB-1 Priority workers:
- Foreign nationals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics
- Foreign national that are outstanding professors or researchers
- Foreign nationals that are managers and executives subject to international transfer to the United States
- EB-2 Professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability:
- Foreign nationals of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business
- Foreign nationals that are advanced degree professionals
- Qualified alien physicians who will practice medicine in an area of the U.S. which is underserved. Read more about this particular program.
- EB-3 Skilled or professional workers:
- Foreign national professionals with bachelor's degrees (not qualifying for a higher preference category)
- Foreign national skilled workers (minimum two years training and experience)
- Foreign national unskilled workers
- EB-4 Special Immigrants:
- Foreign national religious workers
- Employees and former employees of the U.S. Government abroad
- EB-5 Immigrant Investors:
If you are an employer and are unsure which employment category applies to the foreign national you wish to sponsor, or if you are a foreign national and would like more information on which category is most suitable for you, contact us for assistance.