Some individuals coming to work in the U.S. may obtain an Employment-Based Green Card (also known as a permanent residency card). Most employment based green cards require a permanent employment offer for the intending immigrant. Each year up to 140,000 applicants are awarded a green card in employment-based categories. There are also per-country limits per category. With our ever expanding global population and mobile workforce, this has resulted in many backlogs.
Employment Based Green Cards are divided into 5 categories. EB-1, EB-4, and EB-5 are typically current (eligible petitions are adjudicated immediately) while the EB-2 category is current except for those aliens from India or China.
EB-3 consists has significant backlogs.
Current processing times can be found in the current visa bulletin at the Department of State website.
EB-1 is the most sought-after category because there is no backlog of cases and labor certification is not required. Only the top people in their field qualify for this category, and applications are intensely scrutinized. Individuals that qualify for this category are:
Aliens of extraordinary ability
Foreign nationals with extraordinary achievements in the Arts, Sciences, Education, Business, or Athletics. The acclaim may be demonstrated through sustained national or international recognition and the individual’s achievements have been recognized in the field.
No employer sponsorship is not required, but one must still seek to enter the U.S. to continue work in the area of extraordinary ability.
Outstanding professors and researchers who have at least 3 years’ experience in teaching or research in their field and received international recognition for their work.
A U.S. University or other research facility must sponsor the Green Card application for foreign national professors and researchers with outstanding abilities.
Executives or managers of multinational companies managing an organization or a major function or division of an organization.
The multinational company must sponsor the Green Card application for executives and managers.
The U.S. company must have been in existence for at least one year.
The foreign national must be coming to perform executive or managerial duties.
Immediate family members of EB-1 Green Card applicants
28.6% of the 140,000 available employment based green cards are reserved for this category plus any visas not used up by EB-1 applicants. Petitions in this category must be accompanied by an approved labor certification or the foreign national may self-petition if the permanent position is in the national interest (National Interest Waiver).
Individuals that may qualify under the EB-2 category are:
- Persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business doing work in the national interest
- Professionals with an advanced degree
- A degree beyond a bachelor’s, typically a Master’s, Ph.D, or other doctorate degree.
- A bachelor’s degree plus 5 years of progressive experience. The Department of Labor will not count experience from the petitioning employer.
- Physicians in an underserved area of the U.S.
28.6 % of the total visas are allocated to this category. Labor certification is required for all petitioners in this category unless they qualify under Schedule A as a shortage occupation. This category is subdivided into 3 subcategories:
- Skilled workers
- Positions requiring a minimum of 2 years of experience.
- The beneficiary must have a Bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent, and the degree must be the normal requirement for that position.
- Other workers
- This category is open for positions requiring less than 2 years of experience.
- Only 10,000 visas are available each year.
- Long backlogs.
EB 4: Special Immigrants
This category is for Religious workers, government employees, and armed forces translators.
10,000 visas each year to investors in a new commercial enterprise. Purchasing an existing business may qualify. EB-5 petitioners must:
- Invest a minimum of $500,000 if the investment is made in a “targeted employment area.” often through a Regional Center. The Regional Center approach has become very popular in recent years as it requires less involvement from the investor, and there are many attractive investment opportunities.
- Otherwise a minimum investment of $1,000,000 is required.
- Create full-time employment for 10 or more individuals.
- Family members also obtain a green card
Jason Feldman is a San Diego Immigration Lawyer at Feldman Feldman and Associates PC.