The Employment Green Card Process Explained

If you are a foreign national looking to live and work in the United States, you need an immigrant visa. You may have heard of this referenced as a “green card”. There are multiple different ways to become eligible for a U.S. green card, but you may be wondering, “How to get a green card?” and “What is the green card process after I fill out my application?”.

While using a family-based visa is one of the more popular methods of obtaining permanent residency in the United States, you will likely need a U.S. employer to sponsor your visa. This article will specifically cover the steps to obtaining a green card through an employer and how the green card process works in this particular instance.


Green Card Application

Perhaps the most challenging part of any foreign national’s journey to obtaining a green card is securing sponsorship. If you want to have an employer sponsor you, they will first need to get a Labor Certification (PERM). This is usually the most challenging step in the process as your employer will need to first obtain a prevailing wage from the Department of Labor to prove that there are no minimally qualified U.S. citizens to take this role. If the position contains “teaching duties”, your employer must document that you are the “best qualified” for this position; this is known as “special handling”.

In both the typical and “special handling” process, your employer must complete and document a whole recruitment process to show no one qualified within the country to take this role. Once the Labor Certification has been filed with the Department of Labor, a date is then set for the applicant to complete their status adjustment. 


Green Card Process

If no Labor Certificate is required, your employer can file Form I-140 with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once The USCIS has approved form I-140, the foreign national can fill out Form I-485 to adjust their status to a legal permanent resident. Please be aware that your adjustment of status application cannot be filed unless your “priority date” (the date the USCIS gave you when you could file) is current.

In many cases, there is a backlog since more people apply for green cards in a given category than there are available green cards. To stay up-to-date with the latest green card news, you can check the backlog from the U.S. Department of State. This Visa Bulletin is updated monthly and will give you a better understanding of how long it will take to process your visa. In some circumstances, your employer could file Form I-140 simultaneously that you file Form I-485. However, this is not always recommended. If Form I-140 is denied, then Form I-485 will also be denied if filed concurrently.

If you’re interested in obtaining your green card through employment or another category, it’s best to speak to an experienced immigration attorney to give you the right advice. At Dominguez Law Firm, PLLC, we are dedicated to serving the immigrant community. Whether you are trying to obtain lawful status in the United States for yourself or a family member or are facing deportation, we have the knowledge and tools to help! Contact us today to discuss your specific immigration case.