Foreign workers may qualify for permanent residence in the United States (a “green card”) through qualifying employment. Most workers will need to obtain a job offer and assistance from a U.S. company to apply for permanent residence. Information about temporary worker visas are found on their own page.

PERM Labor Certification

The Labor Certification Process

The basic method of becoming a permanent resident is through the labor certification process also known as “PERM”. Through a difficult advertising process, the employer must prove that there are no qualified, available U.S. workers for the position in question and that the alien qualifies for the position. The U.S. Department of Labor will also establish the minimum pay rate for the position.

Applying for permanent residence based on a PERM labor certification

Completion of the labor certification process does not guarantee immediate permanent residence, however. Those who successfully apply for a labor certification are classified either as second-preference (EB-2) workers or third-preference (EB-3) workers. As a general rule, EB-2 visas are typically available, except for nationals of India and China, while EB-3 visas are typically backlogged, again further for nationals of India and China. If a visa is immediately available or once a visa becomes available, employees may apply for permanent residence for themselves and their families. EB-2 visas are available only where the employer can demonstrate that the position requires an advanced degree (or its equivalent) regardless of what credentials the employee actually has.

Priority Workers and National Interest Waivers

Priority Workers

There are exceptions to the labor certification requirement for individuals termed “priority workers” and given first preference (EB-1) by the U.S. government. These include those with extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, or business; outstanding professors and researchers; and managers and executives of multinational companies. The first two of these classifications require proof of substantial prior achievement in the alien’s field. While outstanding professors and researchers and multinational executives require the sponsorship of a company, classification as an alien with extraordinary ability eliminates the requirement that the alien have a company willing to sponsor him or her. EB-1 petitions for aliens with extraordinary ability, therefore, permit self-sponsorship.

National Interest Waivers

Also permitting self-sponsorship is the National Interest Waiver (NIW). An NIW petition, which is classified as EB-2 and therefore less desirable for Indian and Chinese applicants, waives the labor certification requirement as well as the requirement for an employment sponsor in those cases where the applicant can demonstrate his or her work is in an area of national interest to the United States and that the labor certification process is inappropriate in his or her case. Special NIW provisions permit physicians working in underserved areas and entrepreneurs whose companies are in the national interest to self-petition for permanent residence.

Contact Us

Greenberg Visa Law has years of experience managing employment immigration cases including those outlined above as well as specialty programs available in limited circumstances. Please contact a Greenberg Visa Law attorney for a review of the available options in your case.