U.S. permanent residence (commonly referred to as green card status) may be gained through a range of employment-based (EB) immigration options. Many of the EB options require the sponsorship of a U.S. employer. The employer must intend to hire the foreign national on a long-term basis for a position that is not considered temporary. The employer must obtain approval through the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and/or the USCIS, depending upon the type of case. In limited EB categories, the foreign national may self-sponsor. In some cases, the U.S. employer can be or must be a company owned in whole or in part by the foreign national.
Many EB cases require three separate stages. In such cases, the first stage is the PERM labor certification (PERM labor) process. The second stage is the filing of an immigrant petition with the USCIS by the employer. The third stage requires the foreign national to apply either for adjustment of status to permanent residence or for consular processing for an immigrant visa, based upon approval of the first two steps.
There are considerable variations in the requirements within the EB options.
- All cases require the filing of a petition with the USCIS.
- Most cases require a permanent offer of employment from a U.S. employer.
- All cases in the employment-based, third (EB3) and most cases in the employment-based second (EB2) preference categories require employment sponsorship and approval of PERM labor.
- Self sponsorship, based upon qualifications, is available in EB2 (National Interest Waiver – NIW) and EB1 (extraordinary ability) categories.
- Self sponsorship via investment is available in the EB5 category.
- No PERM labor is required in EB1 (Extraordinary Ability, Multinational Executive Transferee and Outstanding Professor/Researcher), EB2 (National Interest Waiver), EB4 (Special Immigrant) or EB5 (Investor) cases.
- All EB cases require that the foreign national complete the process with either an adjustment-of-status (AOS) or consular processing (CP) application.
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