USA GREEN CARD
- Employment Based Program
A Green Card holder (also known as a Lawful Permanent Resident or an Immigrant) is a foreign national who has been granted the privilege of 'permanently' living and working in the United States of America. To apply for a USA Green Card based on the fact that you have a 'permanent employment' opportunity in the USA, you must meet a number of requirements and follow certain Green Card application and processing procedures.
GREEN CARD ELIGIBILITY / PREFERENCE SYSTEM
For Employment Based Immigration, there are five categories.
The categories are listed in order of preference (i.e. EB-1 is given first preference).
EB-1 Priority workers
~ Individuals with 'extraordinary' ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics
~ Outstanding professors and researchers
~ Select Multinational executives
EB-3 Skilled or professional workers
~ Professionals who hold a bachelor's degree, who do Not qualify for the EB-1 or EB-2 categories
~ Skilled workers who have a minimum of two years training and experience
~ Other workers who have less than two years training and experience
*** EB-3 is typically used for, but not limited to, the following occupations:
Computing & IT, Telecoms, HealthCare, Medical, Finance, Accounting, Banking, Teaching, Legal, PR, Marketing, Advertising, Sales, Business Admin / Management and Engineering (all types).
EB-4 Special Immigrants
~ Current employees or former employees of the U.S. Government abroad
~ Religious workers who are members of a non-profit religious organization in the USA
EB-5 Immigrant Investors
~ Individuals who wish to establish a new commercial business
~ Invest in a new commercial business
~ Create new employment
THE GREEN CARD APPLICATION PROCESS
To become a Green Card holder through the Employment Based Application, you must have a permanent employment opportunity in the USA and go through a multi-step process:
Step 1 - you must determine that you are eligible for a Green Card based on Employment
Step 2 - the majority of employment categories require that the US employer complete a
Labor Certification request (Form ETA 750), and submit it to the
Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration who will either grant or deny the request.
Step 3 - the INS must approve an "Immigrant Visa Petition" which is filed by your employer. The employer acts as the 'sponsor' or 'petitioner' for the Green Card applicant. Although some EB categories have different filing requirements, the employer will generally have to file
Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker.
Step 4 - the Green Card applicant must be given an Immigrant Visa Number (even if the applicant is currently in the USA). When you receive an immigrant visa number, this means that an immigrant visa has been 'assigned' to you.
Step 5 - If you are already "in" the USA, you must apply to
adjust your current status to Permanent Resident Status after your visa number becomes available.
This involves filing the following with the INS;
Form I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
Supplement A to Form I-485 as additional fee requirements may apply).
Form G-325A Biographic Data Sheet (between the ages of 14 and 79)
Form I-693 Medical Examination Sheet (NOT required if you are applying based on continuous residence since before 1972, or if you have had a medical exam based on a fiancé visa)
· Two color photos taken within 30 days (for more instructions on photos please view INS
Form I-864 Affidavit of Support (completed by the 'sponsor'). (This requirement may NOT apply to you if you are adjusting to permanent resident status based on an employment petition).
Form I-765 Authorization for Employment (if seeking employment while case is processed). For more information, see How Do I Get a Work Permit?
· Evidence of inspection, admission or parole into the United States -
Form I-94, Arrival Departure Record.
Note ~ If you are "outside" the USA when your immigrant visa number becomes available, you will be notified and must complete the process at your
local U.S. consulate office.
you should provide evidence of eligibility as follows:
· You must submit a copy of the approval notice sent to you by USCIS, if you have
already been approved for an immigrant petition.
· If someone else is, or, has filed a
petition for you which, if approved, will make an immigrant number immediately available to you, you must submit a copy of the completed petition that is being filed for you. Such applications include only immediate relative, special immigrant juvenile or special immigrant military petitions.
· If you were admitted into the United States as a
fiancé of a U.S. citizen and married that citizen within the required 90 days, you must submit a copy of the fiancé petition approval notice and a copy of your marriage certificate.
· If you are an
asylee or refugee, you must submit a copy of the letter or USCIS Form I-94 (Arrival-Departure Record) that shows the date you were granted asylum or refuge in the United States. You also must submit INS Form I-643 (Health and Human Services Statistical Data).
· If you are a
Cuban citizen or native, you must use USCIS Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status) and submit evidence of your citizenship or nationality.
· If you have been a
continuous resident of the United States since before January 1, 1972, you must submit evidence showing that you entered the United States prior to January 1, 1972 and that you have lived in the United States continuously since your entry into the country.
· If your
parent became a lawful permanent resident after you were born, you must submit evidence that your parent has been or will be granted permanent residence. You must also submit a copy of your birth certificate, and proof of your relationship with your parent.
· If your
spouse became a lawful permanent resident after you were married, you must submit evidence that your spouse has been granted permanent residence. You must also submit a copy of your marriage certificate and proof that any previous marriages entered into by you or your spouse were legally terminated.
When an Immigrant Visa Number is issued to you by the State Department it means that an immigrant visa has been assigned to you, and you can now apply to adjust your status to permanent resident status.
Immediate relatives of U.S. citizens, which includes parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21, will have an immigrant visa number immediately available for them once the application filed for them is approved by the USCIS.
All other relatives and 'Employment' based applications have to wait for a immigrant visa number to become available according to the "preference system". U.S. law limits the number of immigrant visa numbers that are available every year, so you may not get an immigrant visa number immediately after your immigrant visa petition is approved. Occasionally, a number of years could pass between the time the INS approves your immigrant visa petition and the State Department gives you an immigrant visa number. Because U.S. law also limits the number of immigrant visas available by country, you may have to wait longer if you come from a country with a high demand for US immigrant visas.
Who Can Apply for a Immigrant Visa Number
Typically, your relative or employer (your sponsor) sends a visa petition to the USCIS on your behalf (the beneficiary) to become an immigrant. (Certain applicants such as priority workers, investors, certain special immigrants, and diversity immigrants can petition on their own behalf.) The USCIS will inform the person who filed the visa petition (the sponsor/petitioner) if the visa petition is approved.
The USCIS will then send the approved visa petition to the Department of State's National Visa Center, where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available. The Center will notify you (the beneficiary of the application) when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is available. You do not need to contact the National Visa Center, unless you change your address or there is a change in your personal situation that may affect your eligibility for an immigrant visa. You may contact the
Dept. of State - Labor Certification
by writing to: The National Visa Center; 32 Rochester Avenue; Portsmouth, New Hampshire 03801-2909
How can I check when my Immigrant Visa Number will be Available
Every approved visa petition is placed in chronological order according to the date the visa petition was filed.
The date the visa petition was filed is known as your
The State Department publishes a 'bulletin' which shows the month and year of the visa petitions they are working on by country and preference category.
You can guesstimate the amount of time it will take to get an immigrant visa number by comparing your 'priority date' with the date listed in the bulletin. For example, if you look under your country and preference category, and see that the State Department is working on applications they received in May 1996. If your priority date is May 1998, then you may have to wait several more years for an immigrant visa number to become available.
You may access the
State Department Visa Bulletin , or you can call the Department of State Visa Office at
, to learn which priority dates are currently being processed.
1) Regular Labor Certification - processing involves filing the DOL forms ETA 750A and ETA 750B and waiting for advertising instructions from the Department of Labor.
PROCESSING TIME for Regular Labor Certification varies between 1 to 3 years.
2) Reduction in Recruitment (RIR) Labor Certification is when the US employer shows the DOL that they have already UNSUCCESSFULLY attempted to recruit U.S. workers for the position.
The DOL likes to see a consistent pattern of recruiting for the 6 months prior to filing. Newspaper advertising is the strongest form of evidence. Internet postings, job fairs, headhunters, etc., provide good supporting evidence.
PROCESSING TIME for RIR Labor Certification varies between 3 to 8 months.
The RIR Application Process:
1) US employer must obtain a "labor certification" from the U.S. Department of Labor
2) US employer applies for immigrant visa classification under the employment-based EB-2 or EB-3 preference categories
3) Foreign national (applicant) applies for green card through 'adjustment of status' in the United States.
Reduction In Recruitment (RIR)
The employer must conduct a 'good faith' effort to recruit U.S. workers, for a period of six months 'prior' to the filing of a labor certification. The employer must show that they failed to find a qualified U.S. worker, the DOL may rely on the employer's efforts to forgo recruitment under its supervision.
Computer professionals and specialty cooks would be good candidates for a successful RIR. Labor certification have also been awarded for other occupations where the employer was able to show difficulty in hiring a qualified U.S. worker.
When is RIR available?
The Department of Labors 'General Administration Letter' (GAL No. 1-97) provides a a clear guide for establishing the eligibility for a good RIR case, as follows:
· Occupations for which there is little or no availability;
· which have no restrictive requirements;
· which meet the prevailing wage;
· and for which the employer can show failed recruitment efforts for the occupation and industry within the previous six months.
What if the RIR Fails?
Losing an RIR case is not so fatal. The DOL will put it at the back of its queue and treat it as a regular case, though that may take a few years to complete
For each category listed below, the filing requirements are different. Please click on the category that applies to you for eligibility information and filing procedures;
HOW TO FIND THE STATUS OF YOUR GREEN CARD APPLICATION
You should contact the
USCIS office where your application was filed.
HOW TO RENEW YOUR GREEN CARD
To renew your Green Card, you should complete a
Form I-90 "Application to Replace a Permanent Resident Card"
To maintain your green card you must establish a permanent residence in the U.S. If you leave the U.S. for one year and return, depending upon the facts of your case, INS may revoke your green card. INS airport inspectors often question green card holders about their ties to the U.S. If the inspector believes you have abandoned U.S. residency he may take your green card pending a hearing before an administrative law judge.
Proof of permanent residence includes owning U.S. property, renting or owning a house, paying U.S. taxes, maintaining U.S. bank accounts, credit cards, paying utilities etc. There is no set formula for proving you maintained U.S. a permanent residence. Its a matter of proving your intention through fact and circumstances.
The U.S. government does not want people holding green cards as a convenience. You must really have a permanent residence in the U.S. and you must pay U.S. taxes on your world wide income.
If you have a green card and you know you will be out of the country for a long period of time, in excess of six months, you should apply for a Reentry Permit. The reentry permit is a travel document that INS considers as proof that you paid U.S. taxes and that you have no intention of abandoning your permanent residence in the U.S.A.
To obtain a reentry permit you must file form I-131 with photographs, proof that you have a green card and a statement describing your reasons for departing the U.S. for a long period of time. Acceptable reasons include family illness, transfer to a job in a foreign position, business reasons. Reentry permits are valid for two years.