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Applying for an Employment-Based Green Card in the U.S.

There are various ways to apply for legal permanent residency in the United States. For example, if you are a spouse or an immediate relative of a U.S. Citizen or a legal permanent resident, you may be eligible to apply for legal permanent residency based on your marriage or familial relationship with that individual through a family-based green card application process. However, what if you don’t have any familial ties here in the United States? Are there any alternative ways for individuals to obtain a legal permanent residency status in the U.S.?


Green Card Sponsorship through a U.S. Employer

The general answer is yes. Even though you may not have any familial ties with a U.S. citizen or a legal permanent resident, you may be eligible to apply for a green card through your employment in the United States.


Work in the U.S. through an Employment-Based Green Card

To provide you a brief overview of the employment-based green card application process, U.S. immigration law provides foreign nationals with a variety of ways to become lawful permanent residents through employment in the United States. These employment-based (EB) “preference immigrant” categories include:


  • First Preference Category (EB-1) – Applicable to certain multinational managers and executives;

  • Second Preference Category (EB-2) – Members of the professions holding advanced degrees (E.g. Master’s Degree or Bachelor’s Degree + 5 Years of Progressive Experience)

  • Third Preference Category (EB-3) – Professionals, Skilled Workers, or other workers

  • Fourth Preference Category (EB-4) – Special Immigrants (e.g. Religious Workers)

  • Fifth Preference Category (EB-5) - Immigrant Investors


The required qualifications and the application process are different for each category preference. However, most of the categories require a foreign national to be sponsored by a U.S. employer. For example, the foreign employee will need to have a valid offer of employment from a qualifying U.S. employer who is willing to sponsor him or her for the green card case. In some cases, the employer will be required to pay for the costs related to the immigration case, including attorney legal fees and government filing fees. As these costs could significantly add up and it can take a lengthy amount of time (up to several years) for the employee to finally receive his or her green card, it may not be so easy to find a U.S. sponsoring company who is willing to invest their time on this lengthy process.


However, there are many employment-based green card cases that are being filed each year. If you would like to obtain a green card in the U.S., and can find an employer who values your work experience or special skills to sponsor you for a green card, you and your family members may be able to obtain permanent residency in the U.S. To see if you may be eligible under one of the EB preference categories above, please feel free contact our office for an assessment!


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