Employment Immigration Green Cards Process Explained
- The Employment Immigration Green Card Process
- Who is Eligible for Employment Immigration Green Cards?
- Preference Categories & Visa Numbers
- How Do I Apply for an Employment Immigration Green Card?
- Checking My Application Status
- How Can I Appeal?
- HELP! with Employment Immigration Green Cards
- Additional Employment Immigration Information
The Employment Immigration Green Card Process
An immigrant (also called a "lawful permanent resident" and Green Card holder) is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of permanently living and working in the United States. If you want to become an immigrant, and obtain a Green Card, based on the fact that you have a permanent employment opportunity in the United States, you must go through a multi-step process:
- You must be eligible for lawful permanent residence (a Green Card) based on employment
- Most employment categories require that your U.S. employer complete a labor certification request(Form ETA 750), and submit it to the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration, which must either grant or deny the certification request.
- The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must approve an immigrant visa petition, usually USCIS Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, for you (filing requirements differ for each employment category, so be sure to click your appropriate category below for more details). Your employer files this petition. However, if a Department of Labor certification is needed the application can only be filed after the certification is granted. The employer acts as the sponsor (or petitioner) for the applicant (or beneficiary) who wants to live and work on a permanent basis in the United States.
- The State Department must give you an immigrant visa number, even if you are already in the United States. When you receive an immigrant visa number, it means that an immigrant visa has been assigned to you.
- If you are already in the United States, you must apply to adjust to permanent resident status after a visa number becomes available. For more details, see Green Card: Become a Permanent Resident While in the U.S. (Adjust Status) If you are outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, you will be notified and must complete the process at your local U.S. consulate
EB-1 Priority workers
- Extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics
- Outstanding professors and researchers
- Certain multinational executives and managers
EB-2 Professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability
- Members of the professions holding advanced degrees or their equivalent
- Exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business
EB-3 Skilled or professional workers
- Professionals with a baccalaureate degree (not qualifying for a higher preference category)
- Skilled workers (minimum two years training and experience)
- Other workers (requiring less than two years' training or experience)
EB-4 Special Immigrants
- Religious workers working with a religious organization in the U.S.
- Employees and former employees of the U.S. Government abroad
- Retired employees of international organizations
EB-5 Immigrant Investors, Entrepreneurs
- Employment creation, capital investment, commercial enterprise
Preference Categories & Visa Numbers
If your immigrant visa petition is approved, you must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the preference system, a method of distributing the limited number of immigrant visa numbers available each year.
How Do I Apply for an Employment Immigration Green Card?
Filing requirements differ for each category of Green Card. Please see the appropriate one: EB-1 Visa, EB-2 Visa, EB-3 Visa, EB-4 Visa, EB-5 Visa.
Checking My Application Status
You may check the status of your application or case online, by phone, or by contacting an appropriate USCIS office. For details see USCIS Case Status: Check USCIS Case Status for Visas and Immigration. You may also want to review US Visa Wait Times and USCIS Immigration Processing Times. For more assistance, see HELP! (below).
How Can I Appeal?
If your Petition for Alien Worker is denied, the denial letter will tell you how to appeal. Generally, you may file a Notice of Appeal along with the required fee at the appropriate USCIS Regional Service Center within 33 days of receiving the denial. Once the fee is collected and the form is processed at the Service Center, the appeal will be referred to the Administrative Appeals Unit in Washington, D.C. Sending the appeal and fee directly to the AAU will delay the process. For more information, see How to Appeal if USCIS Denied My Petition or Application (US Immigration, Green Card Denial).
- Have a specific question? To help you find an answer quickly, we have placed "Ask a Visa & Immigration Lawyer" boxes on this page. Simply type a question in any of the boxes to receive a response online from a visa and immigration lawyer.
- For assistance in your country, contact the nearest U.S. Consulate
- For assistance within the U.S., contact your nearest USCIS District Office or Sub Office.This link provides telephone numbers, addresses, directions, office hours, local filing procedures, and more.
- In the U.S., you may also call the national USCIS toll-free information service at 1-800-375-5283.
- You may also want to seek the advice of an immigration attorney (this link will help you find the right lawyer for your case), or an immigrant assistance organization. A list of accredited organizations and individuals is maintained by the Executive Office of Immigration Review, which also maintains a list of free legal service providers.
For more details on labor certification, see:
Form ETA 750
Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration
For more details on visa numbers, see:
Immigrant Visa Numbers: National Visa Center and the US Visa Bulletin
For an overview of the preference system, see:
The Preference System: US Immigration Visa Preference Categories for Green Card
For more details on how to apply to adjust to permanent resident (Green Card) status if you are already in the United States, see:
Green Card: Become a Permanent Resident While in the U.S. (Adjust Status)
If you want to work while your application for lawful permanent residence is pending, see:
Obtaining a Work Permit
If you need to travel while your application for lawful permanent residence is pending, see:
Advance Parole: Foreign Travel with a Pending Green Card Immigration Application
If you would like to become an immigrant based on your religious work with a religious organization in the U.S., see:
EB-4 Visa for Immigrant Religious Workers
For online immigration forms and fee information, including fee waivers, see:
USCIS Forms / INS Forms and Other US Immigration Forms, Fees & Filing Locations
If you are outside of the United States and need information regarding immigrating to the United States, contact your nearest U.S. Consulate:
US Embassies and US Consulates