Immigration to the U.S. can be accomplished through either a family-based application or an employment-based application. Throughout this guide, you’ll find a comprehensive explanation of the various terms and steps you need to know to successfully apply for a green card.
In addition to the complicated process of obtaining a green card, getting one is one of the most challenging parts of relocating abroad. We have listed the different options to help you determine which employment-based path is right for you.
Employment-Based Green Card and its Various Types
Employers are the ones who must initiate and coordinate the employment-based green card application process, which you cannot self-sponsor. Green cards can also be obtained through the lottery, as you may know. This article will examine the categories and processes for employment-based Green Cards. Employer-based is designated by “E.B.”; each number following it indicates the preference of each category:
- Preference is given to EB-1 applicants.
- Followed by EB-2 applicants
- Then EB-3 applicants
In addition to these three employment-based categories, there are also two other categories: EB-4 and EB-5. You can get a green card sponsorship under the following different employment categories;
1. EB-1 Visa for Priority Workers:
The EB-1 visa is given to people who have been nominated for a Nobel Prize or who have been acclaimed internationally or nationally, e.g., foreign business executives. It’s rare, but if you fall under this category, then congratulations! Under EB-1 eligibility, individuals typically apply for a green card in the shortest period.
2. EB-2 Visa for Advanced Degrees:
Applicants must have an advanced degree, demonstrated stellar ability in science, the arts, or business, or have a National Interest Waiver.
- Advanced Degrees: Degrees are considered advanced for those with a master’s or higher degree (or the equivalent foreign degree) or a bachelor’s degree plus five years of experience in the relevant field.
- Exceptional Ability: A degree of expertise above the usual standard in the sciences, arts, and business can be considered exceptional. You must fulfill at least the following three criteria to qualify for exceptional ability:
- The documentation of your academic accomplishments from a college, university, school, or other educational institution related to your area of exceptional ability.
- A letter stating that you have been working in the relevant field for at least ten years.
- A license for practicing your profession or any certification you hold for that profession.
- You must demonstrate your extraordinary abilities by providing evidence of your salary or other remuneration.
- You must also demonstrate your membership in professional associations.
- Evidence of achievement’s recognition from your peers, government entities, professional or business organizations, and significant contributions to your industry or field.
- There can be alternative evidence that is comparable.
- National Interest Waiver (NIW): For individuals who want to request a National Interest Waiver (NIW), the PERM/Labor Certification step (step 1 of the green card process steps) will be waived. NIWs are generally granted to those who possess exceptional abilities, though the qualification is not defined.
3. EB-3 Visa for Skilled Workers, Professionals, or Other Workers:
This is a third preference category for jobs that do not fit into the first two categories. For this, there must be an insufficient number of qualified workers available in the United States for each of these worker categories;
- Skilled workers must show two years of experience or training in the relevant field.
- Professionals need to have a baccalaureate degree from the United States or an equivalent foreign degree.
- The other workers (unskilled workers) may exist in doing non-temporary or non-seasonal unskilled work.
Other E.B. Categories: There are two additional employment-based preference categories with the AB-1, AB-2, AB-3, and AB-4 employment-based preference categories.
4. EB-4 Visas:
EB-4 visas are available to “special immigrants,” including religious workers, radio and television broadcasters, and military personnel.
5. EB-5 Visas:
Entrepreneurs are typically granted EB-5 visas for making business investments that create or preserve ten permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. Investor visas are also referred` as EB-5 visas.
Qualifying for Multiple Categories:
You will have a smoother experience if your reference number is smaller (excluding EB-4 and EB-5). It would help to consider which category suits your needs depending on where you plan to apply for EB-2 or EB-3.
The shorter wait time for an EB-2 visa makes it ideal for those from highly populated countries, like China or India. Nevertheless, applying for an EB-2 visa can be more complex than applying for an EB-3 visa.
Processing Steps for Employment-Based Green Cards:
There are three stages to get a green card, both employment-based (EB2) and family-based (EB3):
- Stage 1: PERM/Labor certification stage
- Stage 2: I-140 Immigration petition
- Stage 3: I-485 Application to adjust status
Stage 1: PERM/Labor Certification Stage:
According to your employer, you have to prove that you (a foreign worker) are not displacing qualified U.S. workers through the PERM process.
In addition, an employer must prove that it could not recruit a qualified U.S. worker for the job by using a newspaper advertisement as evidence.
Stage 2: I-140 Immigration Petition
The I-140 petition serves two purposes;
- Verification of the green card applicant’s ability to meet the requirements stated in the PERM application.
- Checks with the employer to make sure that the employee can receive the wages offered by the company.
To file an I-140 petition, you have to pay a $700 regular processing fee of $1,225 if you choose premium processing.
The choice of regular or premium processing fee determines how long it takes USCIS to process your I-140 petition. Premium processing only takes 15 days instead of regular processing, taking six to nine months.
Stage 3: I-485 Application to Adjust Status:
USCIS must approve both the PERM/Labor Certification and your I-140 petition before you can complete the actual green card application. Unfortunately, applications for green cards can take so long since only several are available per country and category.
When you’ve submitted and been approved for your I-485 application, you’re done! As soon as your passport is stamped, you will receive your long-awaited permanent residency card.
Processing Timeline 2021
1. PERM Processing Time 2021
Understanding the overall PERM application process will help you determine how long your PERM processing will take. PERM processing consists of three steps:
- Prevailing Wage Request
A detailed description of these steps are given below;
PERM Processing Step 1: Prevailing Wage Request
You will receive a prevailing wage request from your employer following this stage based on your job’s location and economic conditions. Depending on the volume of requests, this step can take several weeks or even months.
PERM Processing Step 2: Recruitment
Your employer must undertake an extensive recruitment process during this step. The employer will give multiple job postings and advertisements, and U.S. workers (if someone applies) will be interviewed. The job listing will run for 30 days, and applicants will have another 30 days to respond.
PERM Processing Step 3: Application
Employers must submit an ETA-9089 form to complete the PERM process. Your employer can submit your application online, and you will get a decision within six months.
Following the application submission, the Department of Labor will send the employer a questionnaire. The DOL will attempt telephone verification if the questionnaire is not completed within a week. Each missed call delays the process further as the DOL attempts three phone calls.
PERM Processing Time Breakdown:
PERM-related tasks might be accomplished in the following order if your employer completes everything on time:
- Prevailing Wage Request: 2 Weeks processing time.
- Recruitment Period: 8.5 Weeks (60 days).
- Application: 24 weeks (6 months).
Overall, the PERM Processing can be completed in almost nine months in this ideal scenario. However, the ideal scenario is not the only factor that can prolong the process. Many other factors can also contribute to it taking longer.
2. Green Card Processing Times:
Do green cards take a long time to obtain? It will depend mainly on the service center where your petition is processed and how long it will take to process an E.B. green card.
Depending on the required steps, the process will also take a certain amount of time to complete. The process is detailed below.
I-140 Processing Time 2021
I-140 is your immigration petition to verify that the employer can pay the offered wage and that the PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) job requirements are met.
Form I-140 is required for all E.B. green cards. The service center takes approximately six months to process this form. You should keep in mind that estimates are just that, estimates.
Form I-140 processing can be sped up to 15 calendar days with a premium service offered by the USCIS against $1,225 premium processing fee.
EB1 Green Card Processing Time 2021
People with exceptional science, art, education, business, or athletics may qualify for the Employment-based First-Preference Visa (EB1-A). To apply, you must demonstrate how your skills and expertise will benefit the U.S.
Since EB1-A visas do not require PERM labor certification, processing times are faster. If you apply for an EB-1B green card, the amount of time it takes to process your application will be determined by the service center where your application is processed.
When filing your I-140 form with the USCIS, it can take up to six months for your “Extraordinary Ability” petition to be processed and approved. The premium processing option may be beneficial. Processing times will be shortened to 15 days by using premium processing, costing $1,225.
In addition to the I-140, after your priority date has been reached, you still need to submit the I-485 that also takes approximately six months to process.
EB1B Green Card Processing Time 2021
In addition to EB1-B, priority workers are also included in this category. Individuals must have been internationally recognized for excellence in a specific academic field to qualify for this category. You must have at least three years of experience in your academic field of research or teaching. Employment offers are recommended (but no certification is necessary).
It will also depend on the service center where your application is processed if your EB-1B green card application is promptly processed. If you choose premium processing, your I-140 petition can sometimes take as little as 15 working days, as explained above.
Form I-485 must be filed once you wait for your priority date (depending on your country of origin). Depending on the service center, it will also take around six months for the I-485 to be processed.
EB1C Green Card Processing Time 2021
In addition to the EB1-C, the EB-1C and the EB-1CC are extraordinary ability visas intended for people with high levels of skill and proficiency. If you have an L-1A visa, you can adjust your status or apply outside the United States for an EB-1C green card.
Depending on where your application is processed, your green card will also take time to process EB-1C. Unless you opt for premium processing, your I-140 petition may take up to six months to process, though this can be shortened to 15 calendar days or less.
To apply for a green card, you have to wait for your priority date (depending on where you are from). Then you must file Form I-485. In addition, depending on your service center, completing your Form I-485 takes around six months.
EB2 Green Card Processing Time
Three categories of individuals are eligible for the EB-2 green card:
- Advanced degrees: Foreign nationals can obtain a Masters’ or Doctorate if they have earned a degree beyond a bachelor’s. You can also qualify with the equivalent foreign degree with five years of work experience. You must obtain labor certification for this category.
- Exceptional ability: Applicants must hold a specialized degree in the arts, sciences, or business and have significant competence in these fields. Labor certification is also required for this category.
- National Interest Waiver: You can apply to have the labor certification process waived if it is in the national interest.
Form I-140s are typically processed in about six months. There can even be a two-year delay in PERM Labor Certification. Through premium processing, you can expedite the processing of your Form I-140 by paying a $1,225 premium processing fee.
Following the receipt of your Form I-140 approval, you will have to wait until your priority date reaches before submitting your Form I-485. Depending on your service center, this step will take another six months.
EB3 Green Card Processing Time
A green card based on employment is an EB-3 as a third preference. EB-3 visas are awarded to applicants who have a bachelor’s degree, are skilled workers with a minimum of two years experience in the relevant field, or are unskilled workers.
EB-3 green card applications are processed in the following order:
- PERM Labor Certification – Six months is sufficient if you consider the recruiting period and the 30-day waiting period after the recruitment. You may have to wait up to 18 months for your employer to be audited.
- I-140 petition – Unless you use premium processing, this takes about six months. It takes 15 calendar days with premium processing and costs $1,225.
- Waiting for your priority date –The date you receive will depend on the country you live in. You will receive it most of the time within a month or two.
- Form I-485 – Your service center may require six months or longer to process it.