U.S Green Card: In this guide, you will learn about the employment-based green card process with USCIS, highlighting the different steps working professionals in the EB1, EB2, and EB3 have to go through when trying to get a US green card.
This guide will only focused on the steps required to get an EB1, EB2, or EB3 green card. To find out the eligibility requirements of the EB1, EB2, and EB3 green card, you can read this article below.
How to Get a US Green Card by Employment (Step-by-Step Guide for EB1, EB2 & EB3 Green Cards)
Generally, there are three steps required to get an employment based green card status:
- The first step is obtaining an approved labor certification from the US Department of labor.
- The second step is filing an I-140 petition with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- The third step is filing an I-485 petition with USCIS.
With the exception of the EB1 category and the EB2 national interest waiver, also known as EB2-NIW, all other employment based categories have to go through steps number One, two, and three.
Also, all other employment based categories requires a U.S employer to file a petition on behalf of the foreign national. The only exceptions of the EB1 through extraordinary ability and the EB2 national interest waiver.
Labor Certification Step
Obtaining an approved labor certification is a step that must be undertaken by a U.S employer. An approved labor certification provided by the U.S Department of labor certifies to USCIS that:
- that there are no sufficient U.S workers able, willing, qualified, and available to take up the job opportunity at the intended area of employment;
- that the employment of the foreign national won’t adversely affect the wages and the working conditions of other similar U.S workers.
For employment based categories, such as all EB3 and some EB2, the labor certification must be approved before moving on to the next step, which is filing an I-140 petition with USCIS.
An approved labor certification from the U.S Department of labor comes with a validity period of six months, which means that an employer must file your I-140 petition within six months from receiving an approval of the labor certification.
I-140 Petition Step
The I-140, also known as an immigrant petition for an alien worker, is typically filed by a U.S employer on behalf of a foreign national. Whoever files this petition with USCIS is called the petitioner, and whoever benefits off of this petition is called the beneficiary.
With the exception of the EB2-NIW and the EB1 through extraordinary ability, a foreign national cannot be both the petitioner and the beneficiary of an I-140 petition filed to USCIS.
I-485 Petition Step
The I-485, also called the application to register permanent residence or adjust status, is adjudicated by USCIS only after the approval of the I-140.
What is a priority date?
The priority date is the date the foreign national expresses an interest to become a permanent resident of the U.S through an appropriate petition.
For foreign nationals in some EB2 categories and all EB3 categories that have to go through the labor certification process, your priority date will be the date the U.S Department of labor receives an application for labor certification from your employer, while other employment based categories they don’t have to go through the labor certification, your priority date will be the date your I-140 petition is received by USCIS.
There’s also a possibility of filing both an I-140 petition and an I-485 petition to USCIS. This is known as concurrent filing, and it’s possible for certain foreign nationals. To find out if you’re eligible for a concurrent filing, you would have to check out the U.S Visa bulletins.
Let’s talk about the general timeline for each of these steps.
- Labor certification step
The U.S Department of labor requires a U.S employer to first test the labor market before they can submit an application for the labor certification.
During this test of the labor markets, the U.S employer must demonstrate to the U.S Department of labor that they were not able to find any U.S worker who was able, willing, qualified, and available to take up the job in question under the prevailing wage set by the U.S Department of labor.
The processing time for a labor certification could take as long as three months and the time required of a U.S employer to test the labor market could take as long as six months. So when combined, the timeline to obtain an approved labor certification from U.S Department of labor could take as long as twelve months.
USCIS has an option of expediting the processing time down to 15 calendar days for certain categories. Without the expedited processing, the timeline for USCIS to adjudicate an I-140 petition could take as long as six months.
- I-485 petition
In the case of the I-485 petition, USCIS does not provide any expedited processing. In some cases, USCIS could take as long as three years to adjudicate your I-485 petition, depending on how backlog the USCIS service centers are.
Also keep in mind that foreign nationals whose priority dates are not current in the U.S bulletin charts, would have to wait until their dates are current to file the I-485 petition, and for certain foreign nationals waiting for priority dates to be current in the Visa bulletin charts could take upwards of ten years.
Foreign nationals with an approved I-485 petition who reside outside of the U.S could go to a U.S consulate or embassy to apply for an immigrant visa to the U.S. While foreign nationals who currently reside in the U.S can change their status from a nonimmigrant status to the green card status.
Depending on your country of birth and your employment based category, the timeline to get a green card could take upwards of three years.
Foreign nationals with a pending I-485 petition with USCIS may apply for a temporary work authorization, also called an employment authorization document. They may also apply for an advanced Bureau document that allows them to leave and enter the U.S while an I-485 petition is pending.
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I hope you found this guide/post very informative.
DISCLAIMER: This article/post and content is designed for general information only and is NOT legal advice. I am not a licensed attorney and so the information presented in this post should not be construed to be formal legal advice. If you need legal advice, you may contact a licensed attorney.