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Employment-Based or Merit-Based Green Cards


What is the process for obtaining an employment-based Green Card?

  1. The foreign national must find an employer willing to file an immigrant petition on their behalf. The employer must be willing to offer the employee a full-time permanent position and must have a “good faith” intent to place the employee in that position at the time that the employee is granted lawful permanent resident status.

  2. The employer will conduct a PERM process to recruit and find qualified U.S. workers. This process generally takes 60-days and can be expensive, since it involves advertising the position in two Sunday newspapers (and may involve placing an ad in a professional journal). If the employer is unable to find qualified U.S. workers for the position, the employer can continue with the PERM/Labor process.

  3. After the PERM process is complete, the employer must wait 30-days (“cooling off period”) before they can submit a labor certification for the foreign national.

  4. After the labor certification is approved within 30-90 days, the employer will file an immigrant visa petition for the foreign national within 180 days of the labor certification’s approval.

  5. The foreign national will have to wait for a visa number to become available. If the foreign national is in the U.S., s/he will have to make sure that s/he maintains legal immigration status at all times.

Is it necessary to be sponsored by an employer?

There are other ways to obtain a Green Card, which do not involve employer sponsorship. Please contact our office to discuss self-petitions for one of the following categories:

  • EB-5 Investor Visas – Available to foreign nationals who can invest at least $500,000 into a new or existing business.

    • The EB-5 program is predicted to change in September 2017. The initial investment amount will likely increase.

  • EB-1A, Extraordinary Ability – This category is reserved for individuals who can demonstrate that they are at the top of their respective fields, in their home country or internationally. (i.e. business executives, athletes, artists, performers, researchers, etc.). This category requires extensive evidence, such as: peer reviews, independent reference letters, awards/prizes, membership roles/affiliations, published materials/articles, participation as a judge, contributions of major significance to the field, display of work at exhibits, etc.)

  • EB-2, National Interest Waiver (NIW) – This category is reserved for individuals that engage in work of “substantial intrinsic merit” with national application, and s/he must have had a “demonstrable impact on the field.”

  • EB-1B, Outstanding Professor or Researcher – This is only available for tenure track or permanent faculty members.

How long will it take to obtain a Green Card?

It depends on the type of visa that you are applying to. There are various types of permanent resident eligibility categories with varying processing times. For family-based and employment-based processing times, you can check the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin online, which is updated monthly.

Can the employee remain in the U.S. during the immigrant process?

It depends. A foreign national must maintain lawful immigration status at all times. There are some exceptions. It is best to speak to our office so we can analyze your case.

Can an individual work while a petition is pending?

It depends. If the individual is on a F-1 student visa, B-2 visitor visa, or any other type of visa that does not allow employment, s/he should refrain from working until s/he receives employment authorization. Unlawful employment could place them at risk for removal proceedings.

Can an individual travel while their petition is pending?

Yes, however, you will need to apply and be approved for travel authorization. Even with an approved travel authorization document, we recommend that you speak with an attorney to make sure that there are no other reasons why you will be denied reentry after your travel abroad.

For more information on the Process for Obtaining a Green Card, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (281) 777-1236 today.

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