Employment-Based Green Cards
Paths to Permanent Residence Through Employer Sponsorship
Most employment-based immigrants are sponsored by an employer that has extended a job offer. The Department of Homeland Security ("DHS")/United States Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") Adjudicates the petition. If the employer petition is approved the beneficiary intending immigrant process to permanent resident ("green card"), generally, in one of two ways depending on whether s/he is in the United States in lawful status or is in a foreign country.
A foreign national beneficiary of an approved petition who resides in another country then applies for an immigrant visa at the designated Department of State U.S. consulate. If the immigrant visa is issued the foreign national applies for admission to the U.S. pursuant to the visa at a port of entry, and, generally, upon lawful admission applies for lawful permanent resident status ("green card").
If the beneficiary of the approved petition in present in the U.S. in valid status s/he applies to DHS/USCIS to adjust status to permanent resident in the U.S. and not at a foreign consulate.
The Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) and its amendments ("immigration laws") give priority for immigrant visas to foreign nationals who have a close family relationship with a U.S. citizen or LPR, who have needed job skills, who are from countries with relatively low levels of immigration to the United States, or who have refugee or asylee status.
Preference Immigration and Diversity Limits
The term preference has been used in immigration law to designate priority categories for immigrant visas (a pre-requisite to being able to apply for permanent resident status. The INA sets limits on the annual number of immigrant visas available. The current annual limit is between 416,000 and 675,000 immigrant visas for family-sponsored preference, employment preference, and diversity immigrants.
A lawful permanent resident ("LPR") or "green card" recipient is a person who has been granted lawful permanent residence in the United States. Permanent resident status confers certain rights and responsibilities. For example, lawful permanent residents may live and work permanently anywhere in the United States, own property, and attend public schools, colleges, and universities. They may also join certain branches of the Armed Forces, and apply to become U.S. citizens if they meet certain eligibility requirements.
Who is Eligible for Employment Based Immigration?
Employment preferences consist of five categories of workers (and their spouses and children): priority workers ("EB-1"); professionals with advanced degrees or foreign nationals of exceptional ability ("EB-2"); skilled workers, professionals (without advanced degrees), and needed unskilled workers ("EB-3"); special immigrants (e.g., ministers, religious workers, and employees of the U.S. government abroad) ("EB-4"); and employment creation immigrants or "investors" ("EB-5"). The employment preference annual immigrant visa limit is 140,000 per year, plus any unused family preferences from the previous year.
The Immigration and Nationality Act provides a yearly minimum of 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas which are divided into five preference categories. Most employment-based permanent residence requires a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in advance of the employer-sponsor filing a petition with DHS/USCIS.
The five (5) employment-based immigration preference categories are structured on the foreign worker's (intending immigrant beneficiary's) particular occupation and skills. The immigrant visas are subject to the number of available immigrant visas and a "waiting list" similar to those discussed in the context of family immigration.
Beneficiaries of India, China, The Philippines, and Mexico are subject to country-specific backlogs in immigrant visa numbers.
Employment Preference Limit
The number of employment-based immigrant visas is 140,000, plus unused family-sponsored preferences in the previous fiscal year. Example: There were 7,148 unused family sponsored preferences in 2006. The 2007 employment preference limit was 147,148 (140,000 plus 7,148). The limit is 28.6 percent of the total for each of the first three employment preferences and 7.1 percent for the last two preferences. In 2007, the number of employment-based preference immigrants exceeded the above limit due to provisions of the REAL ID Act of 2005.
|Employment-Based Preference Categories||Annual Visa Numbers|
|First Preference: Priority workers||42,084|
|Second Preference: Professionals with advanced degrees or foreign nationals of exceptional ability||42,084|
|Third Preference: Skilled workers, professionals, and needed unskilled workers||42,084|
|Fourth Preference: Special immigrants||10,448|
|Fifth Preference: Employment creation ("investors")||10,448|