Employment-Based Green Cards

Getting a permanent employment visa allows you to obtain a green card to live and work in the United States and to sponsor close family members for immigration. Only a limited number of employment-based green cards are issued each year, so immigration officials review application materials very closely.

For that reason, many applicants choose to work with an experienced immigration attorney who can help ensure that all requirements are met and that their supporting documents fully demonstrate their qualifications. The dedicated team at Luis F. Hess, PLLC understands how to help applicants take advantage of the best opportunities to obtain their employment-based green cards. Visas are available for workers in all fields covering a wide range of skills, but it is critical to follow rules and procedures closely to achieve success.

Overview of Employment Green Cards

The U.S. government issues both temporary and permanent work visas in a number of different categories. The permanent employment visas are the ones that provide holders with cards identifying them as lawful permanent residents. (The cards used to be issued on green paper, so they were called “green cards,” and this term is still widely used.)

Permanent employment visas are issued in five categories. Because federal laws allow only a certain number of permanent visas each year, these categories are ranked in order of preference. In some cases, workers can enter the U.S. with a temporary work visa while they wait for a permanent visa, but this is not allowed in every situation so it is a good idea to consult an immigration attorney who can guide you toward your goal and help you steer clear of measures that could delay you from obtaining an employment green card.  

Labor Certification

Most workers must have an offer of employment from a sponsoring employer to get an employment-based visa. In fact, the employer usually starts the application process by filing an immigration petition on behalf of the employee.

The employer filing the petition must meet certain requirements. For many jobs, an employer who wants to sponsor employees for immigration must demonstrate a lack of available qualified workers in the area, justifying the need to bring in outside assistance. The employer presents evidence of this need to the U.S. Department of Labor, and the Department issues labor certification allowing the employer to sponsor foreign workers for these jobs.

Categories of Employment-Based Visas

The U.S. government issues permanent employment-based visas in five categories ranked in order of preference. Generally, visas in the highest preference categories are awarded to candidates who can prove they have outstanding skills and achievements in their fields. One of the employment-based visa categories provides green cards for investors who create jobs in the U.S. A skilled immigration attorney works with applicants to ensure that they persuasively demonstrate their eligibility for the highest available visa category.

First Preference EB-1

Three types of workers can qualify for the first preference category, and the employers hiring them do not need labor certification. The government has detailed lists of criteria for each of these candidates.

Individuals with Extraordinary Ability

Someone with exceptional skills and ability in the fields of the arts, athletics, business, or science may be able to receive a visa even without an offer of employment so long as they intend to enter the U.S. to continue working in that field. They must have received international acclaim such as a Pulitzer Prize or demonstrate that they meet other requirements that prove their level of expertise and recognition in the field.

Outstanding Professors and Researchers

An academic entering the U.S. to teach or pursue research at a university or educational institution of higher learning or through a private employer can qualify for an EB-1 visa if they demonstrate international recognition for outstanding achievements in their field.

Multinational Managers and Executives

Employees coming to work in executive or managerial positions at a U.S. employer with a qualifying relationship to an international company that employed them previously can obtain an EB-1 visa if the employer can present financial documentation demonstrating a continuing ability to pay the offered wage.

Second Preference EB-2

There are two types of workers eligible for an employment-based visa in the second preference category. The employer filing an immigration petition for visas in this category must include evidence of labor certification unless the employee’s skills are of a type the U.S. government has declared to be in the “national interest.” In that case, labor certification requirements can be waived and the employee may not even need an offer of employment to receive a visa.

EB-2 visas are available for those who demonstrate “exceptional ability” in the arts, business, or science and those with advanced degrees and work experience in their field.

Third Preference EB-3

The broadest category for employment-based immigration visas is EB-3. This category covers professionals, skilled workers with at least two years of training or experience, and “other workers” coming to work in jobs that are not temporary or seasonal. Labor certification is required for all positions, and employees must have an offer of full-time employment.

Fourth Preference EB-4

The EB-4 category provides green cards for workers in unique circumstances. Many of these workers served the U.S. government in some capacity overseas. Those eligible for visas in this “special immigrant” category include:

  • Current and some former employees of the U.S. government abroad
  • Retired employees from certain international organizations
  • Religious workers
  • Certain broadcasters
  • Juveniles abused or neglected by a parent

Labor certification is not required and applicants may not need an offer of employment.

Fifth Preference EB-5

Individuals who are able to invest substantial sums in a U.S. business to create or preserve at least 10 jobs may be able to obtain an EB-5 visa for an employment-based green card. The amount of the investment varies according to the location of the enterprise and the prevailing regulatory and judicial standards.

Luis F. Hess Helps Employers and Employees with the Process of Obtaining Green Cards

U.S. immigration requirements are complex and subject to frequent changes. At the Law Offices of Luis F. Hess, PLLC, our experienced legal team is always ready to help workers and employers take advantage of the best opportunities to obtain the visas they need to get green cards for employees and their families.

Contact us today to learn how we could help you reach your goals.