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Getting a Green Card Through Employment

Green Card Through Employment

When looking to immigrate to the United States, having a job offer allows you to approach the process by seeking an employment-based green card. Once you have obtained a full-time, permanent job offer from a U.S. based employer, you have completed one of the most important steps in this process. Although the process may be long and arduous, and requires several costly steps to ensure full compliance with the law and an ultimate approval, the Department of Labor requires that employers pay all costs associated with the “labor certification” process, including attorneys’ fees; the labor certification process is the process in which the employer ensures there is no qualified U.S. worker willing and able to do the job. As an applicant, it is important to consider your background and the type of work you are seeking to undertake in determining which of the five employment green card categories outlined below you may qualify for. 

Employment first preference (EB-1): Priority workers 

The first preference category, also known as “priority” workers, is divided into three subcategories:  

  1. Workers of extraordinary ability;  

  1. Outstanding university professors or researchers; and  

  1. Transferring executives or managers of multinational companies.  

As a priority worker, your employer does not need to seek labor certification on your behalf, simplifying the process.  

Workers of Extraordinary Ability 

For workers of extraordinary ability, you must have been publicly recognized internationally for your achievements in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. For this subcategory, a specific job offer is not required as long as you continue working in your field of expertise.  

Outstanding University Professors or Researchers 

For outstanding university professors or researchers, you must have a reputation for being outstanding in a particular academic field, at least three years of teaching or research experience, and accepted a tenured or tenure-track position in the United States.  

Transferring Executives or Managers of Multinational Companies 

For transferring executives or managers of multinational companies, you must be taking a managerial or executive position with a U.S. branch, affiliate, or subsidiary of a foreign company for which you worked. 

Employment second preference (EB-2): Workers with advanced degrees or exceptional ability 

The second preference category is divided into two subcategories; 

  1. Workers with advanced degrees, and 

  1. Workers of exceptional ability 

Workers with Advanced Degrees 

For workers with advanced degrees, you must have a graduate or professional degree, or a baccalaureate degree accompanied with five years of work experience in a professional position either in the U.S. or abroad.  

Workers with Exceptional Ability 

For workers with exceptional ability, you must be in the sciences, arts, or business. For EB-2 workers, you can obtain what’s called a “national interest waiver” to avoid the labor certification process, if you can demonstrate that your activities in the United States will benefit the U.S. on a national level. 

Employment third preference (EB-3): Professionals, skilled workers, or unskilled workers 

The third preference category is divided into three subcategories: 

  1. Professionals 

  1. Skilled workers, and 

  1. Unskilled workers 

There is not much difference in procedural steps among its three types but there is a greater number of green cards allotted to professionals versus unskilled workers, which means that a green card as a professional is relatively faster to obtain. Professional workers are generally those with a bachelor’s degree but who have less than five years of work experience in their field. Those employed in occupations that generally do not require college degrees but do need at least two years of training or experience qualify as skilled workers. Those occupations with even less than two years of experience or training required fall into the unskilled workers subcategory. 

Employment fourth preference (EB-4): Special immigrants 

The fourth preference category, also known as special immigrants, includes a host of miscellaneous subcategories. It includes: 

  • Religious workers,  

  • Former U.S. government workers, and  

  • Retired employees of international organizations. 

Employment fifth preference (EB-5): Individual investors 

The fifth preference category is for an investor willing to invest $1,050,000 in a new business that will create at least ten full-time jobs for U.S. workers. The minimum investment amount drops to $800,000 if the business is in a rural area or an area that has experienced high unemployment.  

Due to the costs and time associated with obtaining a green card through employment, it is not always easy to find an employer willing to sponsor your application. Therefore, it is important to note that certain employment green card subcategories, namely EB-1 workers of extraordinary ability and EB-2 national interest waiver workers, do not require an employer to sponsor, meaning that the applicant can self-petition their application. 

Reviewing your background in order to determine which category is best suited is a difficult task and you should consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can explain your options. For advice and guidance navigating the complex world of the U.S. immigration process, contact KI Legal’s knowledgeable and experienced immigration team by calling us at (212) 404-8644 or emailing us at to discuss. 



This information is the most up to date news available as of the date posted. Please be advised that any information posted on the KI Legal Blog or Social Channels is being supplied for informational purposes only and is subject to change at any time. For more information, and clarity surrounding your individual organization or current situation, contact a member of the KI Legal team.


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