Green Card Through an Employer

By: Dennis E. Chua, Esq.

A person can obtain permanent residency in the United States if he or she has been petitioned by a family member who is either a US citizen or legal permanent resident. US citizens can file an immigrant petition for their spouses, children (whether single or married), parents, brothers and sisters. While US legal permanent residents can only file for their spouses and unmarried children. How fast a beneficiary can come into the United States will depend on the immigration status of the petitioner and the preference category the beneficiary will fall under.

Aside from a family based petition, a person can obtain permanent residency in the United States if a US employer sponsors the individual. For most employment based petitions, the process is initiated with the filing of an application for labor certification with the US Department of Labor by the employer. The US Department of Labor is the government agency tasked to determine whether US workers will be displaced if the position is offered to the beneficiary. The US employer must conduct good faith recruitment and show that there is no qualified US worker for the offered position before a labor certification application can be filed with the US Department of Labor.

Once the application for labor certification is filed and certified by the US Department of Labor, the US employer has one hundred eighty (180) days to file an immigrant petition with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS.) In reviewing the immigrant petition filed by the US employer, the USCIS will look into whether or not the US employer has the financial ability to pay the offered wages of the beneficiary. The USCIS will also verify if the beneficiary meets the minimum requirements of the offered position.

After the immigrant petition is approved by the USCIS and the priority date for the petition is already current, the beneficiary can now file for an application for adjustment of status with the USCIS if he or she is in the United States and eligible to file for the application; or undergo consular visa processing if the beneficiary is outside the United States. Just like the family based immigrant petition, the employment based immigrant petition has several different categories and each preference category will depend on the type of position being offered to the beneficiary. How fast a sponsored individual can get his green card will again depend on the preference category of the employment based immigrant petition.

Some employment based immigrant petitions need not go through the labor certification application process. These are for positions which have been classified by the US Department of Labor as shortage occupations and they include nurses and physical therapists. Since these positions are pre-certified, the US employer will just have to file the immigrant petition with the USCIS to start the employment based immigrant petition process.

Despite the economic downturn, US employers continue to sponsor qualified individuals for permanent residency because of their need for the skills of these workers. The positions which US employers continue to file for sponsorship include engineers, accountants, teachers, systems analysts, and caregivers.

Atty.  Dennis E. Chua is a partner in The Law Firm of Chua Tinsay and Vega (CTV) -  a full service law firm with offices in San Francisco, San Diego and Manila.  The information presented in this article is for general information only and is not, nor intended to be, formal legal advice nor the formation of an attorney-client relationship.   The CTV attorneys will be holding regular free legal clinics at the Max’s Restaurant in Vallejo, California.  Call or e-mail CTV for an in-person or phone consultation to discuss your particular situation and/or how their services may be retained at (415) 495-8088; (619) 955-6277;
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