An individual can apply for U.S. immigrant status based on his/her employment or job offer in a U.S. company.
Under the employment-based categories, a person with permanent employment or investment opportunity in the United States can apply for a green card. For most types of workers, applications are made by their prospective U.S. employers. Others may be eligible for self petition.
Important Information for Foreigners Intending to Immigrate to the United States
Family-based Categories for Green Card Application
Individuals Living Outside the United States
An individual still living outside the United States must undergo consular processing at the U.S. embassy of his/her country of origin to apply for U.S. permanent residency. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) works with the Department of State in issuing a visa on an approved Form I-140 (Petition for Alien Worker) petition, once a visa available. Visa availability mainly depends the person’s preference category.
Individuals Already in the United States
For an individual already in the United States, the intent to become a permanent resident can be done through the adjustment of his/her status. Once the Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) is approved and a visa number is already available, s/he must fill up the Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) to become a U.S. permanent resident.
According to the U.S. Department of State, employment-based immigrant visas are divided into five preference categories including: First Preference (priority workers, including aliens with extraordinary abilities, outstanding professors and researchers, and certain multinational executives and managers); Second Preference (members of professions holding advanced degrees or persons with exceptional abilities, and individuals seeking a National Interest Waiver); Third Preference (skilled workers, professionals, and other qualified workers); Fourth Preference (certain special immigrants including those working in religious vocations); Fifth Preference (investors or entrepreneurs who are considered as employment-creation immigrants).
Those under the First Preference are considered as priority workers. Their applications don’t require labor certification. They must be the beneficiary of an approved Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker).
Those under the Second Preference generally need labor certifications duly approved by the Department of Labor. Certain applicants may apply for exemption through a National Interest Waiver. Such can be granted if the exemption would be considered as something of national interest. A job offer by a U.S. employer must be filed by the company using Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) on behalf of an applicant.
Those under the Third Preference generally need labor certifications duly approved by the Department of Labor. Each applicant must have an approved Form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) filed by the U.S. employer.
Those under the Fourth Preference don’t need labor certifications. They must be beneficiaries of approved Forms I-360 (Petitions for Amerasian, Widow/er, or Special Immigrant), with the exception of “Certain Employees or Former Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad.”
Those under the Fifth Preference don’t need labor certifications. Each one must file a petition using the Form I-526 (Immigrant Petition by Alien Entrepreneur). To qualify, an applicant must invest anywhere between $500,000 and $1,000,000 in the United States and must create at least 10 new full-time jobs for U.S. citizens, permanent residents, or other lawful immigrants, but not including the investor and his/her family.
“Green Card through a Job Offer,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“Working in the US,” U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
“Employment-Based Immigrant Visas,” U.S. Department of State.
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