How to Immigrate to the United States with an Employment-Based Green Card

Immigrating to the United States with an employment-based green card allows you to work in the country and live there permanently, provided you fulfill certain conditions set forth by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

How to Immigrate to the United States with an Employment-Based Green Card

If you are not a US citizen and you want to move to the United States and become one, there are two ways you can immigrate to the United States: through family-based immigration or through employment-based immigration. If you’re a skilled foreign worker, employment-based green card immigration may be the right option for you. If you have experience and skills that are in demand in the U.S., you might be able to qualify for an employment-based green card, which will allow you to apply for permanent residence (get your green card) if you meet certain qualifications.

First of all, this type of green card requires that you have an employer willing to sponsor your green card application through the U.S. Department of Labor. In order to qualify, your employer will need to prove that they have tried but were unable to find an equally qualified American employee who would take the job, and then file Form I-140 for you with the U.S.

Immigrating to the United States with an employment-based green card is much easier than most people think it is. However, the process can still be overwhelming if you’re not prepared to tackle it from all angles. But if you start out with the right information and plan ahead, you’ll be on your way to US citizenship in no time. To help with this daunting task, check out this step-by-step guide on how to immigrate to the United States with an employment-based green card. So read on to learn more about your options and how to make your dream of living in the United States come true.

What is an Employment-Based Green Card?

Employment-Based Green Cards are issued based on a determination by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that no American workers can be found to fill a job opening. The principal applicants for Employment-Based Green Cards are employers, who must file petitions for individuals they wish to hire. An employer’s filing of a petition for an alien employee will also result in work authorization being granted automatically, at which point immigration approval is just a matter of time.

After receiving a labor certification from the Department of Labor, the employer should submit Form I-140 along with supporting evidence such as academic degrees and job experience. After waiting 18 months or more depending on eligibility factors such as country of origin or level of education, it's time to get another application called Petition for Alien Worker which needs to be filed within 18 months after approval of Form I-140.

Types of Employment-Based Green Cards

Here's the list of employment-based subcategories and the types of jobs that fall under them. “EB” stands for “employment-based,” and each number following “EB” notes the preference of each category:

  • EB-1 is the first preference
  • EB-2 is the second preference
  • EB-3 is the third preference

There are also EB-4 and EB-5 categories, yet these do not fall under the preference system of the first three employment-based categories. However, within the employment-based green card category, multiple subcategories of workers can apply for permanent residence. In some cases, their spouses and children may qualify for a green card, as well. These are the different employment categories in that one can gain a green card sponsorship.

EB-1 Visa for Priority Workers

Only a few applicants fall under this qualification, but if this category  Individuals under EB-1 eligibility typically experience the quickest application process for a green card.EB-1 priority workers have exceptional and extraordinary abilities in fields such as science, art, education, business, sports, or athletics. Professors and researchers are also included in this category. This category specifically focuses on providing eligibility to people who are internationally recognized for their contributions to their respective fields. Certain managers and executives from multinational corporations may also apply under this category for an employment-based Green Card.

Meanwhile, there are three sub-groups within this category:

  • Persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics.
  • Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years of experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally.
  • Multinational managers or executives who have been employed for at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer.

EB-2 Visa for Professionals With Advanced Degrees or Persons With Exceptional Ability

This category is for people with extraordinary or exceptional abilities who can benefit the nation in relation to educational or cultural-related activities. People in the fields of science, art, and business are also included in this group. Learned professionals with five years of work experience and advanced degrees can apply through this category.


Moreover, there are two subgroups within this category:

  • Professionals holding an advanced degree (beyond a baccalaureate degree), or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years of progressive experience in the profession.
  • Persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability means having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.

EB-3 Visa for Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Unskilled Workers (Other Workers)

The third preference category is for those who have jobs that don’t apply to the first two categories. For each of these worker categories, the work performed must be one of which there are not enough qualified workers already available in the United States. People who apply through the EB-3 category need a minimum of two years of training experience. It also includes people from abroad with an undergraduate degree or vocational training. The great thing about this category is that it also provides an opportunity for the immigration of unskilled workers with sufficient experience in fields that aren’t that abundant in the U.S.

EB-4 Visa for Special Immigrants

This category predominantly tends to receive applications from religious workers who represent a nonprofit organization in the U.S., employees and former employees of the U.S. government from abroad, and people who were translators for the U.S. Armed Forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

EB-5 Visa for Investors (Employment Creation)

This group of foreign nationals are all investors and entrepreneurs, have the intention to invest more than $1,000,000 into the U.S. economy, and will create or preserve more than 10 permanent full-time jobs for qualified U.S. workers. This preference category is also known as the Immigrant Investor Program. In certain instances, the requirements may be lowered to an investment of $500,000 which will create 5 new full-time jobs.

Required Documentation for Employment-Based Green Card

The following are the basic documents required for an employment-based green card application.

  • Passport(s) valid for six months beyond the intended date of entry into the United States
  • Form DS-260, Immigrant Visa and Alien Registration Application.
  • Two passport-style photographs.
  • Civil Documents for the applicant
  • Financial Support
  • Completed Medical Examination Forms

How to Apply for Employment-Based Green Cards

There are specific steps to follow in order for a U.S. employer to successfully petition a foreign worker to become a permanent U.S. resident. 

1. Employer or agent obtains labor certification approval

For most employment categories, the sponsoring employer must get a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor which certifies that no qualified U.S. workers are available or willing to do the job that the immigrant will be hired to do.

2. Employer files a petition with USCIS

If the labor certification is approved, the employer then needs to file Form I-140, the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the appropriate employment-based preference category. Individuals from the E-B1 category have the opportunity to file their own petitions.

3. USCIS sends petition to the National Visa Center

Once the petition is approved by USCIS, it is sent to the National Visa Center (NVC), which will begin pre-processing the applicant’s case.

4. Immigrant applies for an immigrant visa or Green Card

the applicant’s prospective employer or agent must first obtain a labor certification approval from the Department of Labor. Once received (if required), the employer then files an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the appropriate employment-based preference category. However, if the applicant is already in the U.S., he or she could apply for an Adjustment of Status. Otherwise, the applicant would go through the process of getting a visa through an embassy or consulate.


How Long Does It Take?

Employment-based immigrant visa cases take additional time because they are in numerically limited visa categories. The length of time varies from case to case and cannot be predicted for individual cases with any accuracy.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, foreign nationals without immediate family members in the U.S. can possibly get an employment-based Green Card. We touched on 5 categories of people who are eligible for an employment-based Green Card. They need to comply with the requirements and submit the necessary paperwork. Make sure you work fast and accurately as there are only a limited amount of people allowed to immigrate to the U.S. per year. If you are planning to live your life in the United States, then a green card is your best solution to gaining permanent resident status. However, the green card process can be incredibly long depending on your type of eligibility and the country you are applying from. Moreover, proceed with the link below for more detailed information on the requirements and application guidelines for employment-based Green Cards in the United States.