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Greencards through Employment

The five tiered U.S. employment immigration categorization system was established in 1990 and allocates approximately 140,000 immigrant visas (“greencards”) to qualified employees and their families. The five tiers are:

  • Employment First Preference (employment based 1 or “EB1”): Priority Workers – People with Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding Researchers and Professors and Multinational Managers and Executives.
  • Employment Second Preference (EB2): Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees, Persons of Exceptional Ability and National Interest Waivers
  • Employment Third Preference (EB3): Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)
  • Employment Fourth Preference (EB4): Certain Special Immigrants (e.g. religious workers, broadcasters, certain translators, etc. . .  click here for a complete list
    EB-4
  • Employment Fifth Preference (EB5): Immigrant Investors

EB2 and EB3 are the most common categories because they encompass employees filling positions that require a university degree. Most individuals in the EB2 and EB3 categories must have their employer obtain a certified “Labor Certification” in order to qualify for a greencard.

A Labor Certification is a process where the U.S. employer of the potential immigrant proves to the Department of Labor that there are not willing, able and qualified U.S. workers to fill the position. To prove this, an U.S. employer must conduct specific recruiting steps in an attempt to fill the position with an U.S. worker. If a qualified, willing and able U.S. worker is found, the Labor Certification step cannot be completed. If no U.S. worker is found, the Labor Certification is “certified” and the intending immigrant can proceed to the final less rigorous steps to becoming a LPR (“Lawful Permanent Resident” or “greencard holder”).

Individuals in the EB1 category as well as individuals in the EB2 category who qualify for a National Interest Waiver do not have to complete the Labor Certification step.

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