Employment Based Green Cards
Permanent residency (Green Card) through an employer is a great and relatively quick option to obtain a green card. There are no preferential jobs - the success of the case lies in showing that there are no willing, able or qualified US workers to take the sponsored job. The process in most cases consists of 3 stages: (1) Labor Department - PERM, (2) Petition for Alien Worker - I-140, (3) Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing - Green Card. Below is a short description of each stage.
(1) Labor Department (PERM)
This stage involves testing the local labor market in order to show that there is a shortage of qualified, able and willing US Workers to fill the sponsored position. During this stage, we obtain a prevailing wage from the Department of Labor, post required advertisements and job notice postings. Provided no qualified, able or willing US worker applied for the job, a PERM application is filed to the Department of Labor for consideration. Once the PERM application is approved, it is valid for only 6 months. During this period of 6 months, the second stage of the process - Petition for Alien Worker - Form I-140 - must be filed.
(2) Petition for Alien Worker
The purpose of this stage is to demonstrate to the USCIS that the employer has the ability to pay the prevailing wage to the sponsored employee and that the sponsored employee has the required qualifications to perform the duties of the sponsored job. In order to demonstrate employer's ability to pay the prevailing wage, in most cases the USCIS will require the employer to submit its federal income tax return. Such a return should show net income that is at least equal or greater that the prevailing wage. In order to demonstrate the qualifications of the sponsored employee, evidence of educational credentials and work experience letters must be submitted.
(3) Green Card Application
Green Card application is the last stage of the process. If you are in the United States, you will file an application for an adjustment of status (Form I-485). If you are outside of the United States, you will file an immigrant visa application (Form DS-260). In order to file Form I-485, priority date for your case must be current. Please check the visa bulletin page for more information.
When you file your application for an adjustment of status, you may also file an application for an employment authorization (EAD Card) and an application for a travel document (Advance Parole). In addition, you can also apply for your Social Security Number directly with the USCIS. You can renew your Employment Authorization Document and your Advance Parole as long as your green card application is pending.
If you are outside of the United States, you will file your immigrant visa application (Form DS-260). Once this application is filed, you will wait for your interview to be scheduled at the US Embassy at your home country.
Why are there waiting times for the green card?
Immigration law divides employment based petitions into different categories and each category has an annual limit of green cards which can be issued during any fiscal year. The more applicants apply in a given category, the longer the wait time. The order in which green cards are issued is determined by the Visa Bulletin published monthly by the Department of State. Please check the visa bulletin page for more information.
Every month the US Department of State publishes a Visa Bulletin which sets cutoff dates for all preference categories. Please check the visa bulletin page to approximate your anticipated wait time. USCIS issues green cards based on the Visa Bulletin and the Priority Dates.
Your place in the waiting line for your green card is called a Priority Date. Priority Date is the date when you had your green card case started. USCIS can only issue green cards to those applicants whose Priority Date is before the cutoff date listed in the Visa Bulletin.