You have an approved Labor Certification, now what?

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Labor Certification is the first step in the majority of employment-based Green Cards.  Some people are not required to have an approved Labor Certification (outstanding researchers, multinational managers, people with extraordinary ability, and those who qualify for a national interest waiver), but other employment-based immigrants must have an employer sponsor who will file a Labor Certification on their behalf.

The Immigrant Petition

After you have received an approved Labor Certification from the Department of Labor, the next step is to file an immigrant petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).  The immigrant petition should be completed and filed by your employer on Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.  Your employer will be required to provide supporting evidence along with Form I-140, including:

  • The original approved Labor Certification
  • Proof that you meet the requirements for the position listed in the Labor Certification  such as:
    • Copies of educational degrees; and
    • Letters from previous employers verifying that the beneficiary has the required experience.
  • Proof that your employer has the ability to pay you the prevailing wage for your position.  The following items can be submitted to prove ability to pay:
    • A copy of your employer’s most recent federal tax return;
    • A copy of your employer’s annual report;
    • A copy of your employer’s audited financial statements; or
    • If your employer has over 100 employees in the US, your employer can submit a statement from its financial officer.

All documents submitted in a foreign language must be accompanied by a full English translation that a translator has certified is complete and accurate.  Copies of original documents can be submitted unless the original document is specifically requested.  Please note that you cannot submit a copy of the approved labor certification – you must submit the original signed by you and your employer.

Applying for Permanent Residency

You cannot become a permanent resident until the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker is approved and your priority date is current.  Your priority date is the date that the labor certification was filed.  This date will appear on the cover page of the approved labor certification.  Check the visa bulletin issued each month by the Department of State to determine if your priority date is current.    When the date on the visa bulletin for your preference category is the same or later than your priority date, your priority date is “current.”  Once your priority date is current, you can move on to the next step in obtaining a Green Card.

When completing Form I-140, your employer indicated whether you will apply for adjustment of status from within the US or if you will apply for an immigrant visa at a US consulate in another country.

If you are already legally in the US, you may become a permanent resident without leaving the country through a process called adjustment of status.  You must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.  This application can only be filed once your priority date is current.  If you have a spouse or minor children, they can apply for adjustment of status at the same time as you based on your approved labor certification.  When you apply for adjustment of status, you may apply for an Employment Authorization Document, allowing you to work for your employer in the US while your adjustment of status application is pending, and Advance Parole, allowing you to travel outside the US while your adjustment of status application is pending.

If you are not in the US, you may apply for an immigrant visa at a US consulate once your priority date is current.  You will have to appear at the consulate for an interview.  If the interview goes well and your immigrant visa is approved, you will receive an immigrant visa in your passport, allowing you to enter the US one time.  When you enter the US, you will receive a stamp in your passport that shows you are a permanent resident.  You may use this stamp as proof of authorization to work for your US employer.

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