Employment Based Green Card

The employment based green card application process is quite lengthy, detailed, and complicated. It involves receiving approval from the Department of Labor, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Department of State.

What is an Employment Based Green Card

An employment based green card is a document which gives legal permission for a foreign national to live and work in the United States. Other than family based, employment is the most common route by which a foreign national can obtain a green card.

A foreign national can get an employment based green card if they are sponsored by an employer for a position within the United States. The foreign national may be living abroad or already in the United States on a nonimmigrant visa such as a H1B or a student. However, the employer must try to fill the position with a current green cardholder or US citizen before hiring a foreign national.

What are the Processes in Getting an Employment Based Green Card

If a foreign national successfully applies for a green card, then their spouse and children under the age of 21 are also entitled to receive a green card. Employment based green card applications are ultimately approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.

However, the first step is to receive labor certification for most industries. Employers must file an Application for Permanent Employment Certification, ETA Form 9089 with the Department of Labor. This is to demonstrate that no eligible permanent resident or US citizen was available and qualified for the position being filled.

Employers must also verify that prevailing wages are being offered for the position from the State Workforce Agency where the position is located, prior to receiving labor certification from the Department of Labor. Also, the employer must have documentation for their recruitment efforts to fill the position with a permanent resident or US citizen. This includes job listings in newspapers, industry journals, and any state job lists. The employment based green card application process cannot begin without receiving labor certification.

In addition to these requirements, employers are also asked to submit foreign language requirements for the position, document combined occupations if necessary, alternative experience requirements, actual minimum requirements, conditions of employment for live-in workers, evidence that opportunity was given to laid-off workers in the area, documentation if the alien has a financial stake in the company directly or indirectly, documentation of any audit requests, and application records for the past five years.

It typically takes two to three months for labor certification applications to be filed, although the duration can increase in case of audits. If the application is denied, the decision can be repealed and brought to the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals.

If the labor certification is approved by the Department of Labor, then form i-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers can be filed and submitted to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. If this form is approved, then the foreign national will receive an immigrant visa number from the Department of State.

Depending on the foreign national’s country of origin, the wait time for the visa differs by a large amount. Countries with a large number of applicants can lead to months of delay while countries with few applicants can receive their visa immediately. The timeline can also be longer if the foreign national is living abroad rather than in the United States.

Once the visa becomes available, the applicant files Form i-485, Green Card Application, which is the final step in the green card process. If the applicant is in the United States, there is an interview with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Along with Form i-485, the applicant can also file their Employment Authorization Document and Advanced Parole or Travel Document. Applicants outside of the United States can go through Consular Processing with the interview taking place at the nearest US Consulate in the applicant’s native country.

Is there a Quota for Getting an Employment Based Green Card

Every year, 140,000 employment based green cards are awarded. 9,800 are allocated to every country regardless of the number of applicants or the country’s total population.

First Category for Employment-Based Green Card: EB-1 Priority Workers

EB-1 priority workers include persons of extraordinary abilities in the fields of sciences, arts, education, business, sports or athletics. It also includes outstanding professors or researchers. This entails giving priority to internationally recognized individuals who contributed to innovations in their field of study. EB-1 also gives preference to managers and executives of multinational corporations.

EB-1 has a quota of 28.6 percent of total employment based immigration. Thus, each country has an allocation equivalent to roughly 2,800 individuals annually. EB-1 is the first choice for applicants due to it given first preference and a more current priority date. However, there is a great deal of scrutiny of applicants in this category.

Second Category for Employment-Based Green Card: EB-2 Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Persons with Exceptional Ability

The next category is EB-2 which gives preference to foreign national with above average skills who have the potential to benefit the national interest from an educational, cultural or educational manner. It also includes people with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, or business based on achievements or peer recognition. EB-2 also includes professionals with advanced degrees and five years of work experience. Physicians who are going to practice medicine in the U.S. in an underserved area also count under EB-2.

EB-2 has the same quota as EB-1 of 28.6 percent which is equivalent to 2,802 people per country.

Third Category for Employment-Based Green Card: EB-3 Skilled or Professional Workers

EB-3 includes skilled workers with a minimum of two years of training or experience and foreign national with an undergraduate degree or vocational training. It also includes unskilled workers with experience that is not readily available in the United States.

EB-3 has the same quota of 28.6 percent of workers. Given that requirements for EB-3 are less stringent, it has the most number of applicants and is quite competitive especially for countries with large populations. By the same measure, employers are less apt to file for EB-3 workers, because these positions are more likely to be filled by domestic workers given the lack of specialized training among applicants.

Fourth Category for Employment-Based Green Card: EB-4 Special Immigrants

Some of the groups that qualify for EB-4 are religious workers who belong to a religion with a nonprofit organization in the United States, employees and former employees of the United States government abroad, and people who worked as translators with the United States Armed Forces in Iraq or Afghanistan.

The quota for EB-4 is 7.1 percent of total employment based immigration which amounts to every country having an allocation of 695 people per country.

Fifth Category for Employment-Based Green Card: EB-5 Investors (Employment Creation)

EB-5 is geared for foreign nationals who are investors and entrepreneurs who intend to invest more than $1,000,000 and create 10, new full-time jobs in the United States. In certain situations, this amount has been revised to $500,000 and five full time jobs.

The quota for EB-5 is 7.1 percent of total employment based immigration which amounts to 695 people per country.
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