When U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services awards an immigrant a green card, it gives that person permanent residence in the U.S. This comes with the right to secure employment within the country. The application process can take a long time to be complete and is very complex and strict. However, USCIS offers several avenues through which you can apply, such as by meeting one of the categories outlined by the Immigration and Nationality Act. These include being an immediate relative of someone who holds U.S. citizenship, being a priority professional or holding refugee status. One of the most common routes of application is fulfilling the job- or employment-based INA category.
What is the job- or employment-based category?
This category allows people who have been offered permanent employment in the U.S. to become eligible for residence through a green card. In these circumstances, green cards are awarded to the most qualified individuals according to the rankings of applicants in order of professional status. Priority workers are at the top of the list – those with extraordinary skills or who have proven themselves professionally as teachers, researchers or executives in emerging industries. After that, applicants with advanced degrees receive their green cards, followed by skilled workers, employees in specialty fields and workers whose function is to create more jobs (investors, entrepreneurs, and so forth).
How to apply
Applying for a green card through an offer of permanent employment requires the employer to file a petition for the worker. This is done through Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. After this is done, you must go through one of two lines of action depending on your current location:
- If you are living outside of the U.S., you have to go through consular processing, which is when USCIS works directly with the Department of State to grant a visa via the I-140 petition once a visa number becomes available. This will generally require you to complete additional steps, such as attending an appointment with the consular office.
- If you live in the U.S., you can have your residency status adjusted to permanent by applying with Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. You can fill out this form as soon as your I-140 form is approved and a visa number becomes available.