Understanding the Employment Green Card Process

All Green Card holders or non U.S. Permanent Residents are authorized to live and work permanently in United States. Most foreign nationals obtain their Green Cards either through employment, marriage or the Green Card lottery program. The option of obtaining a Green Card through employment is not favored by the majority of individuals as the employee requires an employer in the U.S. to petition on his or her behalf.

Green Card Through Employment

Individuals should only apply for a Green Card after obtaining a job from an U.S. employer due to the fact the Employment Green Card process usually involves demonstrating to the Immigration Authorities that there is a shortage of workers in the United States to fill that particular position. The U.S. employer also must obtain a certificate which is known as Labor Certification, to prove that there was no such worker available in the United States at the time of job offer.

Even though the laws of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) require Labor Certification, there are few exceptional situations where individuals under the following categories need not submit the Labor Certification:

  • Individuals with Extraordinary Ability in the fields of Science, Business, Arts and Athletics
  • Outstanding Professors or Researchers
  • International Executives or Managers
  • Exceptional Ability in the Sciences and Arts with National Interest Waiver
  • Physical Therapists (Registered)
  • Professional Nurses (Registered)

Employment Green Card Process

Obtaining a Green Card through employment is a multistage process where maximum time is taken for the petition to get approved. Dependents of the principal applicant also need to go through the same waiting period if they accompany the applicant. The process is:

The first step is that the applicant and the US employer must determine if the applicant is eligible for the green card as per the USCIS law.

The second step involves getting the labor certification. The US employer must prove that there were no skilled workers available in the United States at the time of the job offer for that specific position. Once the labor certification has been approved, the US employer must file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for the Alien Worker.

The third step is the Adjustment of Status. This is the procedure for becoming a lawful permanent resident without having to leave the United States. If the applicant is in the United States, he or she must apply for the Adjustment of Status. If the applicant is outside United States, he or she may go through consular processing at the US embassy or consulate at his or her home country.

If the petition filed by the U.S. employer gets approved, the approved application will be forwarded by the USCIS to the Department of State’s National Visa Center and will also notify the US employer about the approval of the petition. This might take 15 to 24 months or even longer depending on the priority date of the applicant.

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