An employment-based green card is a document that permits a foreign national to lawfully 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.
In most cases the process for obtaining a green card involves 3 steps:
Labor Certification (ETA-750) with the Department of Labor
File I-140 Employment Petition with USCIS
Request Adjustment of Status OR Consular Processing
Once all three steps are complete a Green Card will be awarded to the foreign national worker. In some cases, even the spouse and child of the foreign national worker will receive a Green Card.
Employment-based green cards fall under one of three preference categories depending on the offered job position. These include:
First preference (EB-1) – priority workers
Aliens with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics;
Outstanding professors and researchers; or
Certain multinational managers and executives.
Second preference (EB-2)
Aliens who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or who have exceptional ability
Third preference (EB-3)
Skilled workers, professionals, or other workers.
There are several paths to becoming a legal permanent resident through an Employer. Choosing the right one, determining if you qualify, and successfully completing all of the steps can be very difficult without the help of an experienced green card attorney.
The H-1B visa is the most popular U.S. visa due to its numerous benefits, especially the opportunity to apply for a green card application. The H-1B is a temporary (nonimmigrant) visa category that allows employers to petition for highly educated foreign professionals to work in “specialty occupations” that require at least a bachelor’s degree or the equivalent.
Jobs in fields such as mathematics, engineering, technology, and medical sciences often qualify. Typically, the initial duration of an H-1B visa classification is three years, which may be extended for a maximum of six years.
Before the employer can file a petition with USCIS, the employer must take steps to ensure that hiring the foreign worker will not harm U.S. workers.
Employers first must attest, on a labor condition application (LCA) certified by the Department of Labor (DOL), that employment of the H-1B worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
Employers must also provide existing workers with notice of their intention to hire an H-1B worker.
The current annual statutory cap is 65,000 visas, with 20,000 additional visas for foreign professionals who graduate with a master’s degree or doctorate from a U.S. institution of higher learning.
Beginning in 2020, USCIS changed to a registration process for visa numbers available in FY 2021 (beginning October 1, 2020). The purpose of this new process is to reduce the burden on U.S. employers and the agency from requiring employers to submit H-1B petitions and supporting documentation prior to knowing whether a visa number will be available.
USCIS established the first registration period from 12 noon ET on March 1 through 12 noon ET on March 20, 2020. Each year, USCIS will announce the next registration period, during which a U.S. employer must register electronically for each foreign national for whom the employer intends to file an H-1B petition.
Although the H-1B is a non-immigrant visa, the holder can apply for a green card at the same time. Because the time required to obtain a green card has lengthened in recent years, the H-1B offers a way for individuals to work in the U.S. while seeking to become permanent residents.
Experienced immigration will help explain every step of applying for a visa, a green card, and ultimately for applying for citizenship. The immigration process can be complicated and there is a lot of paperwork to prepare and file. A simple mistake can result in a delay, or even worse, a denial.