An immigrant is a foreign national who has been authorized to
live and work permanently in the United States. If you want to become
an immigrant based on the fact that you have a permanent employment
opportunity in the United States, or if you are an employer that wants
to sponsor someone for lawful permanent residency based on permanent
employment in the United States, you must go through a multi-step
- First, foreign nationals and employers must determine if
the foreign national is eligible for lawful permanent residency under
one of USCIS' paths to lawful permanent residency.
- Second, most employment categories require that the U.S.
employer complete a labor certification request (Form ETA 750) for the
applicant, and submit it to the Department of Labor's Employment and
Training Administration. Labor must either grant or deny the
certification request. Qualified alien physicians who will practice
medicine in an area of the United States which has been certified as
underserved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are
relieved from this requirement.
- Third, USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition, Form
I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, for the person wishing to immigrate
to the United States. The employer wishing to bring the applicant to
the United States to work permanently files this petition. However, if
a Department of Labor certification is needed the application can only
be filed after the certification is granted. The employer acts as the
sponsor (or petitioner) for the applicant (or beneficiary) who wants to
live and work on a permanent basis in the United States.
- Fourth, the State Department must give the applicant an
immigrant visa number, even if the applicant is already in the United
States. When the applicant receives an immigrant visa number, it means
that an immigrant visa has been assigned to the applicant. You can
check the status of a visa number in the Department of State's Visa
- Fifth, if the applicant is already in the United States, he
or she must apply to adjust to permanent resident status after a visa
number becomes available. If the applicant is outside the
United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he or
she will be notified and must complete the process at his or her local
U.S. consulate office.
Categories of Eligibility
There are four categories for granting permanent residence to
foreign nationals based upon employment:
EB-1 Priority workers
- Foreign nationals of extraordinary ability in the sciences,
arts, education, business or athletics
- Foreign national that are outstanding professors or
- Foreign nationals that are managers and executives subject
to international transfer to the United States
EB-2 Professionals with advanced degrees or persons with
- Foreign nationals of exceptional ability in the sciences,
arts or business
- Foreign nationals that are advanced degree professionals
- Qualified alien physicians who will practice medicine in an
area of the U.S. which is underserved. Read more about this particular
EB-3 Skilled or professional workers
- Foreign national professionals with bachelor's degrees (not
qualifying for a higher preference category)
- Foreign national skilled workers (minimum two years
training and experience)
- Foreign national unskilled workers
EB-4 Special Immigrants
- Foreign national religious workers
- Employees and former employees of the U.S. Government
How to Apply
If you are an employer wishing to sponsor (or petition) for a
foreign national to work in the United States on a permanent basis, you
must file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. Detailed information
is provided in the instructions for Form I-140. Filing requirements
differ for each of the categories.
The Department of State is responsible for providing visa
numbers to foreign nationals interested in immigrating to the United
States. To find out more about the Department of State's visa process
visit the Department of State website for specific information on how
to get an immigrant visa number.
For EB-4 special workers, the foreign national or employer
must file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special
Immigrant, with the CIS Service Center. Detailed filing
information is provided in the instructions for Form I-360.
To check the status of a visa number you can review the
Department of State's visa bulletin.
Source: USCIS Website | Last accessed: February 7, 2009.
Information on this website is information purposes only, and the presentation of it does not create an attorney-client privilege, nor is it intended to constitute legal advice.