business petition categories
There are roughly 140,000 immigrant visas available each fiscal year for foreign workers and their spouses and children. These visas will allow foreign workers to live and work in the country on a permanent basis. There are five categories under which foreign workers or their employers can file petitions to immigrate. These categories are organized by the type of skills, education, and work experience. Some categories require the employer to obtain an approved labor certification from the United States Department of Labor ("DOL") before submitting an immigration petition. The DOL labor certification verifies that: 1) there are insufficient available, qualified, and willing US workers to fill the position being offered, and 2) hiring a foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers. The five worker visa categories are:
- EB-1 Priority Workers:
Available for priority workers with extraordinary ability in the area of science, art, education, business, or athletics. This includes outstanding professors and researchers, as well as multinational executives and managers. No labor certification is required.
- EB-2 Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability:
Available for individuals who are professionals with advanced degrees, meaning beyond a baccalaureate degree, or for persons with exceptional ability, meaning they have a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered, in the areas of art, science, or business. Labor certification is required unless a national interest waiver is obtained.
- EB-3 Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers):
Skilled workers are persons whose jobs require a minimum of two years training or work experience that are not temporary or seasonal. Professionals are members of the professions whose jobs require at least a baccalaureate degree from a US university or college or its foreign equivalent degree. Unskilled workers (other workers) are persons capable of filling positions that require less than two years training or experience that are not temporary or seasonal. Labor certification is required.
- EB-4 Certain Special Immigrants:
A "special immigrant" includes certain religious workers, employees of US Foreign Service posts, retired employees of international organizations, alien minors who are wards of US courts, and more. No labor certification is required.
- EB-5 Immigrant Investors:
Available to business investors who invest a minimum of $1 million in a new commercial enterprise that employs at least 10 full-time US workers, or $500,000 if made in a targeted employment area. No labor certification is required.
Once the foreign national seeking to obtain a green is the beneficiary of an approved petition, and a visa number is immediately available to him or her, there are two ways to apply for a green card: consular processing and adjustment of status. If the applicant resides outside of the US, or if the applicant resides in the US but is ineligible for adjustment of status, he or she must apply at a US consulate abroad. The foreign national submits the necessary paperwork, and attends any required interviews, at the US consulate in their country of origin. The result of a successful case of consular processing is that the foreign national is granted an immigrant visa, which enables him or her to lawfully enter and remain in the US as a permanent resident. The person's green card will then be mailed to his or her new home address in the US within a few weeks of his entry.
Adjustment of Status
Adjustment of status is a procedure that allows an eligible foreign national to obtain a green card in the US without having to return to his or her home country to apply for an immigrant visa at the US consulate. Instead, he or she is permitted to remain in the US, and apply for work authorization while the green card application is pending. He or she may even be able to obtain a travel document to travel abroad while awaiting a decision on his or her green card application. One cannot just choose to adjust status in the US. The foreign national must be eligible under Section 245 of the Immigration and Nationality Act. Generally, the applicant must have entered the US lawfully, after inspection by immigration agents, and be in valid visa status at the time he or she applies for adjustment.