Second to the family-sponsored green cards, the employment-based green cards are one of the most popular ways to get permanent residence in the U.S. For most of the employment-based green card categories, the employer or the visa sponsor starts the process by filing an application for alien labor certification. This is filed with the Department of Labor. This certification will show that there aren't any qualified workers in the U.S. willing to do the job that the foreign worker is qualified and willing to handle. The proofs include skill requirements, job advertisements, foreign worker background, prevailing wage as well as the ability of the employer to make payments.
There is a wide range of employment-based immigration options for obtaining a green card. Most of the employment-based or EB options need the sponsorship of U.S. employer. The employers must aim to hire the foreign national on long term basis for a permanent position.
Stages of EB Cases
Most employment based cases are possible to divide into three different stages.
- PERM labor certification
This assesses if there are qualified U.S. workers to handle a given job.
- I-140 petition
This is the employer's petition for a permanent foreign worker.
- I-485 application
This is the employees application for permanent residence.
Let us check out on the processes in detail.
PERM Labor Certification
PERM is the process to obtain labor certification; the very first step of green card process for the foreign nationals seeking permanent residence through employment.
To obtain PERM Labor Certification, the employer needs to prove through newspaper, advertisement and other recruitment methods that they were unable to recruit a qualified U.S. citizen to work for a given position.
The job requirements need to adhere to the qualifications that are customarily needed for occupation in the U.S. It may not be tailored to the qualifications of the worker. To speak in simple terms, the employer must establish that the job opportunity does not have unduly restrictive needs unless it demonstrates that it was a business need.
Most PERM cases take around three to ten months from the beginning to approval. The recruitment process that includes the design of job description, obtaining prevailing wage determination, interviewing the applicants as well as completion of the recruitment report takes around three months. From there, the DOL review as well as the adjudication process takes around three to seven months depending on the number of pending cases at the processing center and whether the case is subject to audit.
After PERM labor certification gets approval, it is time to proceed to the second step of the application process that is the I-140 immigrant petition. This petition is directly filed with the USCIS or the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services.
This petition shows that the petitioning entity is offering a permanent position to an employee. It also shows that the employee met the minimum needs of the position before joining the company and that the organization has the ability to pay the salary offered.
After the petition is filed, it takes around two to six months to get the approval.
The I-485 application is the final step in the permanent residence process. Adjustment of Status (AOS) is an application that is filed by someone physically in the United States eager to adjust nonimmigrant status to immigrant status. Each applicant needs to file a separate application.
The Adjustment of Status application is possible to file concurrently with I-140 and immigration petition if visa numbers are available at the time of filing. Since the processing is done alongside the 1-140, it is possible to process them between two and nine months.
If everything goes well after the completion of the PERM process, the whole green card process is possible to complete in just 6 months.
If you are eager to work legally in the United States, in most cases, you will require a job offer, pending application for green card or some other rights to be in the U.S. like Temporary Protected Status. In case you are not certain if you qualify for a work permit or a green card, or need some assistance with applications, you can seek the aid of an immigration attorney. Since they have the adequate expertise, they can offer help.