Employment-Based Green Cards


Employment-Based Green Card Lawyers

If you are in the United States on a temporary visa and want to adjust your status to become a permanent resident, you may be eligible for an employment-based green card. Our Los Angeles-based immigration lawyers can help guide you through the complexities of acquiring a work-based green card. Below is a summary of the three main types of employment-based green cards and the qualifications and application processes for each.

EB-1: First Preference

The EB-1 category of employment-based green cards is reserved for immigrants with extraordinary ability in their field, as well as outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives or managers. To qualify you must show that you will continue to work in your area of expertise.

In order to demonstrate that you have extraordinary ability or achievements, you must either present evidence of a major one-time achievement, such as a Pulitzer Prize, Olympic Medal, or Academy Award or meet at least three of 10 criteria such as:

  • Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes.
  • Membership in industry associations that demand outstanding achievement of members.
  • Evidence of published material about you in professional publications or other major media.

If you’re an outstanding professor or researcher, you must demonstrate international recognition of your achievements and have at least three years of teaching or research experience in your area of expertise. Further, you must be pursuing tenure or tenure-track teaching, or comparable research positions in the U.S., and you must present proof of an offer of employment from a qualified employer while showing you meet two of six criteria, such as:

  • Receipt of major prizes.
  • Published material or original scientific or scholarly research. 

As a multinational manager or executive, you can qualify if you worked outside the U.S. for at least one year in the three preceding years before the petition or your most recent lawful nonimmigrant admission if you’re already working for the qualified U.S. petitioning employer. The petitioning employer must demonstrate intent to employ you in a managerial or executive capacity and must have been doing business in the U.S. for at least 1 year as well as have a qualifying relationship to the entity that employed you abroad.

EB-2: Second Preference

The EB-2 category is mainly for immigrants whose work requires advanced degrees, who have exceptional ability, or who qualify for a national interest waiver. 

For professions requiring advanced degrees, not only the position but the immigrant must possess a bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent plus five years of post-baccalaureate, progressive work experience in the field, while meeting other requirements specific to the position. If a doctoral degree is customarily required for that position, then you must have one (or the foreign equivalent), as well. 

To qualify based on exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, you must meet position-specific requirements plus three criteria from a list that includes:

  • A degree or certificate from an educational institution related to your area of specialty.
  • At least 10 years of full-time experience in your occupation.
  • A professional license or membership in a professional association. 

If the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) determines that your employment would greatly benefit the nation, and you are well-positioned to advance your area of specialty, you may qualify for a national interest waiver.

EB-3: Third Preference

The EB-3 preference is a more inclusive category that is open to:

Professionals – Defined as immigrants whose jobs require at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent.

Skilled Workers – Jobs that require a minimum of two years of training or experience (relevant education may be considered training) and are not of a temporary or seasonal nature.

Other Workers – Positions that require less than two years of training, education, or experience, and which are not temporary or seasonal.

How to apply for an employment-based green card

The application process for employment-based green cards involves Form I-140, Petition for Immigrant Worker, and Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. 

Rules for filing Form I-140 vary by visa category, and even within each category. For the EB-1 visa, applicants who meet the extraordinary ability criteria may use the form to self-petition, while employers of outstanding professors and researchers and multinational managers or executives must file the petition on their behalf.

For most EB-2 and EB-3 visas, Form I-140 must be submitted by petitioning employers, who, for the majority of positions, must also submit an approved Application for Permanent Employment Certification from the Department of Labor on ETA Form 9089. Immigrants requesting a national interest waiver, however, may self-petition using Form I-140 and may also request to have the labor certificate waived.  

If you are in the U.S. and you meet certain other criteria, an immigrant visa is immediately available to you as an EB-1, EB-2, or EB-3 immigrant, and you may file Form I-485 to adjust your status without leaving the country. As long as a visa is available, you can file Form I-485 either concurrently with the Form I-140 application, while the application is pending or after it has been approved.

If you would like to speak to an employment-based green card lawyer, contact Bolour/Carl Immigration Group at 323-857-0034 or [email protected].  

Frequently Asked Questions

If Form I-140 is approved, what comes next? 

Workers who are already lawfully in the United States in another status must file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status; this application can be done concurrently with the employer’s filing of Form I-140 as long as there is a visa available. Workers who are outside the United States must go through a consular process in their country to apply for their green card. 

How long does it take to get an employment-based green card? 

The PERM labor certification process typically takes about eight to 11 months from start to DOL approval. It then takes about six months to process an I-140 petition. Applicants must wait for their priority date, which varies depending on preference category and country of origin, to become current. Although this often happens within a matter of months, it can take several years in some cases. Once a priority date is current, the adjustment of status process takes about four to six months, while consular processing may take weeks or months depending on many factors. 

In many cases it’s possible to expedite the 1-140 processing time to 15 days by paying a fee for premium processing. However, if your priority date will not be current for some time, the expedited processing won’t matter because you cannot adjust your status or go through consular processing until your priority date is current. 

How do I know what my priority date is?

When your I-140 is filed on your behalf, you will receive Form I-797, Notice of Action. Your priority date will be listed on this form. You can periodically check your place in the visa queue using the Visa Bulletin, which provides the most recent date for when a visa number is available for the different categories and countries. 

Can I stay in the U.S. while my employment-based green card application is pending? 

If you are in the U.S. in a valid nonimmigrant status, such as H-1B, O-1, J-1 or other, you can remain in the country while your green card application is being processed, provided your nonimmigrant status does not expire. Once your I-485 form is filed, you can stay in the U.S. until it is adjudicated. 

Can my family members apply for green cards? 

Yes, the spouse and unmarried children under age 21 of an employment-based green card applicant can apply for a green card as a derivative applicant.

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Bolour / Carl Immigration Group is a full service immigration law firm. We have been representing immigrants, nonimmigrants, families, businesses, employees, and the like, from around the globe for over 25 years. With over 25 years of experience exclusively in the field of Immigration Law, we have garnered the knowledge to handle the most complex cases and adequately represent a wide range of clientele. The size of our firm ensures that all of our clients receive hands on service from their attorneys and a direct line of communication with our attorneys.Learn More