Although most requests for U.S. permanent residence, or green cards, are filed for employees who are already in the United States on temporary visas, this is not a requirement. Permanent residence status confers unrestricted permission to live and work in the U.S. Employment-based permanent residence requests include either two or three steps. The most common type of case is a three step process involving:

1) PERM (Labor Certification)

The PERM (or labor certification) is filed with the U.S. Department of Labor on Form ETA-9089 and involves a test of the labor market, and a showing by the U.S. employer that there are no U.S. workers who are “able, willing, qualified or available” to perform the offered job.

2) Immigrant Visa Petition

The immigrant visa petition is filed with U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) on Form I-140 with supporting documents. This is the employer’s petition on behalf of the foreign employee to sponsor them for the offered position. The immigrant visa petition contains information and documents relating to the employer, the offered position, and the beneficiary’s qualifications.

3) Adjustment of Status or Immigrant Visa Application

The final step of the process is the adjustment of status application filed with USCIS or the immigrant visa application filed with the U.S. Department of State’s embassy or consulate abroad. Derivative applications for the foreign worker’s spouse and minor children can also be filed concurrently. This final step of the process requests personal information, including medical and background/security checks and can also include applications for temporary work and travel permission if filed with USCIS.

In certain situations the immigrant visa petition and the adjustment of status application may be filed concurrently. In other situations there is a delay of months to years between the two stages based on per country quotas for employment based immigrants.

Preference Categories for U.S. Work-based Green Cards

Certain preferred categories of immigrants (those with extraordinary/ exceptional ability, outstanding researchers, multinational executives and managers, those whose work is in the national interest, and immigrant investors) can skip the first step of the three step process and move directly to the immigrant visa petition. Further, immigrants with extraordinary ability, and those whose work is in the national interest, may choose to self-petition, avoiding the need for a specific job offer from a U.S. employer.

Our Employment Immigration Attorneys

Our employment immigration attorneys are skilled in PERM-based green card applications for foreign professionals, skilled/unskilled workers and those with advanced degrees or exceptional ability as well as non-PERM-based green card applications for persons of extraordinary ability, outstanding researchers, multinational managers, high-achievers qualifying for national interest waivers of PERM certification, and immigrant investors.

Please see the blue box for the most common permanent employment visa categories. Or contact Grossman Young & Hammond now to discuss your permanent employment immigration options. We look forward to working with you.