Types of Employment Green Cards
EB-1A Extraordinary Ability
While you do not need to go through the PERM labor certification to prove a lack of qualified American workers in your market, specific requirements must be met depending on the employee’s occupational category. Moreover, employer sponsorship is not necessary to provide sponsorship to pursue one of these employment green cards. Rather, an EB-1A hopeful can self-petition.
To secure an EB-1A green card, a person must receive approval on the I-140 Petition as well as the I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status. Individuals who wish to obtain an EB-1A extraordinary ability green card can file these documents concurrently, at the same time, or separately, depending on the strength of their case.
Fortunately, the EB-1A is typically not subject to the backlogs applicable to other green card categories, and filing concurrently can drastically reduce the amount of time it takes to obtain permanent residency through the EB-1A process. While waiting for approval of the EB-1A green card, a person may seek I-131 Advance Parole travel permission to legally travel abroad.
While a job offer and sponsoring employer are requirements of the EB-1B visa, it is not necessary to go through the PERM labor certification process to confirm that there is a lack of qualified American workers in your industry. This also means that, unlike the EB-1A and NIW green card categories, it is not possible to self-petition for the EB-1B visa. As an employer, your company must file the petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services.
To obtain an EB-1B green card, an individual must have both their I-140 Petition and I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status approved. EB-1B applicants can choose to file these documents together, called concurrent filing, or separately. The EB-1B green card process is favored by many due to the less strict eligibility requirements and the lack of time-consuming backlogs that are associated with other green card options. Moreover, a person may seek I-131 Advance Parole travel permission to legally travel abroad while waiting for approval of their EB-1B green card.
EB-1C Multinational Executives
The application process begins by filing the I-140 petition and all necessary supporting evidence. Your company and the applicant will be required to provide evidence, including proof of job offer, transcripts and resume, tax returns, and quarterly reports, among other documentation. Once this petition is approved, the I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status may be filed to obtain permanent residency. While waiting for approval of the green card, the employee may submit a I-756 EAD Work Permit Application to allow for work in the United States, as well as I-131 Advance Parole travel permission to allow for international travel.
EB-2 Advanced Degree
The I-140 petition is the first step when applying for the EB-2 advanced degree green card. After the USCIS has approved this petition, applicants may move on to file the I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status, which effectively grants permanent residency once approved. During the processing period, applicants may submit an I-765 EAD to authorize work in the United States as well as the I-131 Advance Parole application to allow for international travel.
EB-2 National Interest Waiver
After the I-140 petition is approved in the EB-2 NIW category, the applicant may file the I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status or, if abroad, apply for permanent residency via consular processing. If the applicant is located in the United States and wishes to continue working while waiting for their green card application to be processed, they may file the I-765 EAD Work Permit Application. Similarly, for these applicants, the I-131 Advance Parole application can be filed to allow for international travel.
EB-3 Skilled Workers
While waiting for the USCIS to approve the employment green card application, EB-3 applicants may apply for the I-765 EAD Work Permit to request authorization to work in the United States on a temporary basis. Furthermore, applicants who wish to travel abroad while waiting for their application to be processed may utilize I-131 Advance Parole travel permission.
Thousands of United States companies employ foreign professionals, as indicated by the hundreds of thousands of I-140 petitions submitted every year. Congress has established a limitation on the number of immigrant visas that are granted each year. To adjust an employee’s status to that of a Lawful Permanent Resident (green card holder), an immigrant visa must be available, both at the time of filing and at the time of approval.
Every month, the Department of State issues the Visa Bulletin to summarize the number of green Cards available in each category and list the cut-off dates for green card applications. Petitioners will receive a priority date, which indicates the date on which the I-140 petition was properly filed with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Only petitioners with priority dates prior to the cut-off date are able to submit their green card applications.
While the cut-off dates typically move forward in time, this is not always the case. Demand for visa applications can fluctuate from month to month, which has an impact on the cut-off dates listed on the Visa Bulletin. When cut-off date movement slows or stops, this is called retrogression. When assessing delays, it is also important to consider backlogs. There are per-country caps on the number of immigrant visas that can be granted to citizens of a specific country. Currently, foreign professionals from India and China are experiencing the most substantial backlogs.
With approximately 140,000 employment-based green cards issued every year, there is a clear opportunity for foreign professionals to secure permanent residency in the United States. Priority is assigned to the different categories of employment green cards, which follows this order:
- EB-1 Priority Workers
- EB-2 Individuals Holding Advanced Degrees or People of Exceptional Ability
- EB-3 Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers
- EB-4 Certain Special Immigrants
- EB-5 Employment Creation
The green card that is applied for will determine the level of priority, thus directly impacting the likelihood of expeditiously obtaining permanent residency in the United States.
More than half of American startup companies were founded by immigrants. These founders must wade the waters of the United States immigration system to continue expanding in high-growth industries. We have worked closely with startup founders to successfully navigate the following green card processes to continue operating their companies on American soil:
- EB-1A extraordinary ability
- EB-1C multinational executives
- EB-2 NIW
- Concurrent and separate filing of I-140 and I-485 adjustment of status and portability
- I-765 work permits
- I-131 advance parole travel documents
Can I Work in the United States While Waiting for My Green Card?
Yes, as long as an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) is secured, it is legal to work in the United States while waiting for a green card. Working without an EAD can put an application at risk and harm a person’s ability to secure an employment green card. It is also important to note that filing the EAD does not impact the processing timeline of the green card application and/or I-485 Adjustment of Status.
What Are the Employment-Based Green Card Waiting Times?
The waiting times for employment green cards vary depending on the USCIS service center and the type of immigrant visa being applied for. For visas with low demand, it can take anywhere from six months to over a year to process the green card. For visas with high demand, or if there are substantial backlogs, it can take multiple years to process an employment green card.
What Are the Employment-Based Green Card Requirements?
If a person is currently residing in the United States, to be eligible for a green card as an EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 visa holder, the following requirements must be met:
- File the I-485 Application for Adjustment of Status
- Confirm that you were inspected and admitted to the United States
- Prove that you were physically present in the United States at the time of filing the I-485
- Be eligible to receive an employment-based green card and ensure that a green card is available to you at the time of application and adjudication
How to Choose the Right Immigration Attorney for Your Needs
Choosing the right immigration attorney for your needs is a decision that has the ability to impact the success of your case and the speed at which you secure an employment green card for your colleague or employee. When vetting prospective attorneys, the following considerations may prove helpful:
- What is their record of success and approval rating for cases similar to yours?
- Is the attorney confident and communicative?
- What is the proposed timeline for your case?
- Does their fee structure align with your budget?
- How does the attorney plan to mitigate risk while handling your immigration matters?
How an Immigration Attorney from Alcorn Immigration Law Can Help You
We utilize a proven methodology to facilitate the legal process of immigration. Our methodology has been distilled from the experiences of generations of attorneys, many of whom are immigrants or children of immigrants themselves. Through our services, we are able to accomplish, together. Connect with Alcorn Immigration Law today at +1(855) 546-0015 to get in touch regarding your immigration needs.
If you want to sponsor yourself for a green card based on your expertise or ability to invest in a U.S. enterprise—without an employer sponsor—consider either:
- EB-1A Extraordinary Ability Green Cards
- EB-2 NIW National Interest Waiver
- EB-5 Investor Green Cards for Employment Creation
Sponsor an Employee
If you want to sponsor an employee and avoid the labor certification and recruitment process, consider either:
- EB-1A Extraordinary Ability Green Cards
- EB-1B Green Cards for Outstanding Researchers and Professors
- EB-1C Green Cards for Multinational Managers and Executives
- EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver)
If you want to sponsor an employee through the standard green-card process, consider either:
- EB-2 Green Cards for Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees or Persons of Exceptional Ability
- EB-3 Green Cards for Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers
For More Information
Alcorn Immigration Law supports immigration for innovation. Our team can help you find the best option for yourself or your employees. Please see our specific pages for each type of employment-based visa to learn more about the requirements, steps, forms, filing fees, processing times, and other relevant details.