Employers often seek temporary work visas for foreign national employees, but in some cases, an employer may want to sponsor the employee for permanent residency, or green card status. To do so, the employer must first obtain an approved application for Permanent Labor Certification (or PERM certification) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). After the employer has received PERM certification, it must file a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign national.
In order for the employer to sponsor an employer for a green card, the employee must meet one of the following five preference categories for employment-based permanent residency:
- First Preference (EB1) is available for priority workers, including persons of extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational organization executives and managers.
- Second Preference (EB2) is available for professionals holding advanced degrees (or persons of exceptional ability) working in a position that requires an advanced degree or the equivalent.
- Third Preference (EB3) is available for professionals and skilled workers if the job requires a bachelor’s degree or two years of specialized training or experience.
- Fourth Preference (EB4) includes special immigrants, such as religious workers and some government workers, among others.
- Fifth Preference (EB5) is available for investors who make a substantial U.S. investment that create jobs for U.S. workers.
It is important to know and understand the applicable preference category and the priority date assigned to the I-140 petition since the preference category will impact the cut-off date for priority status of your application. Depending on the citizenship of the foreign national and his or her profession, there may be significant delays in processing of employment-based green cards. For instance, as we recently reported, pursuant to the October 2014 Visa Bulletin, applicants in the EB-2 category (professionals holding advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability) from India and China have cut-off dates of May 1, 2009 and November 15, 2009, respectively. The EB-2 category for individuals from all other countries remains current. Applicants in the EB-3 category (skilled workers and professionals) from the Philippines and China have cut-off dates of October 1, 2011 and April 1, 2009, respectively, but the EB-3 cut-off date for applicants from India lags behind at November 15, 2003.
Contact an Employment Immigration Lawyer
If you wish to sponsor a foreign national worker for permanent residency, it is highly recommended that you consult with an employment immigration lawyer. The Chicago immigration lawyers at Shapiro Law Group have more than 30 years of experience helping employers and foreign national employees obtain the appropriate work visa and, if necessary, a permanent resident green card. We will guide you through the entire process, advise you on the most appropriate immigration option, and help ensure that you comply with the applicable legal requirements.
Contact us online or call (847) 564-0712 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced U.S. immigration lawyers.