Depending on the applicant’s nationality and preference category, there may be a backlog and wait time for a Green Card – there is a numerical limitation on available employment-based Green Cards. The employment-based preference system has five categories:
- First preference (EB-1):
- individuals with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics;
- outstanding professors and researchers; and
- multinational managers and executives.
- Second preference (EB-2):
- individuals who hold advanced degrees (beyond a bachelor’s);
- individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business; and
- physicians working in underserved areas or veteran facilities).
- Third preference (EB-3):
- Skilled workers (at least 2 years of training or experience);
- Professionals (requires a bachelor’s degree); and
- Other workers (capable of performing unskilled labor that is not temporary or seasonal).
- Fourth preference (EB-4):
- Special immigrants, such as individuals serving in the U.S. military and religious workers.
- Fifth preference (EB-5):
- individuals who create employment by investing in or opening a commercial enterprise.
Generally, the first step in the employment-based green card process is to file a labor certification application with the Department of Labor, which ensures that there are no U.S. workers who are willing, able, and qualified for the position. Once an approved labor certification is secured, the immigrant visa petition is filed, which confirms the employment offer. If the petition is approved and an immigrant visa number is available, the applicant may then proceed with consular processing or adjustment of status.