Each year, the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act provides for approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas. Foreign nationals who enter the United States on one of these visas may become lawful permanent residents of the United States (green card holders). They may be sponsored by an employer, or self-sponsored.
Employer-Sponsored Permanent Residence
There are different categories for employer-sponsored permanent residency, and each category has varying requirements.
- Outstanding Professors and Researchers: Employers may sponsor employees for permanent residence under the EB-1(b) category for outstanding professors and researchers. This category requires that the foreign national be recognized internationally as outstanding in his/her field of specialization, has at least 3 years of experience in teaching or research in the field, and has an offer of a tenured or tenure-track teaching position, or a permanent research position with a university or institution of higher education. The offer of employment may be from a private employer if the position is a research position and the entity employs at least three full-time researchers and has achieved documented accomplishments in an academic field.
- Multinational Managers/Executives: Employers may sponsor employees to fill managerial or executive positions in the U.S. if in the three years preceding the filing of the petition (or in the three years preceding entry into the U.S. if currently in the U.S. on a temporary work visa for the employer), the foreign national has been employed outside of the U.S. for at least one year by an affiliate company in a managerial or executive position.
- Professionals/skilled workers/other workers: For professionals, skilled workers, or other workers, employers may sponsor employees through what is referred to as the “PERM” process, which involves a test of the labor market. The process involves an application by the employer for labor certification to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL); then a filing by the employer of a petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for an immigrant visa; and finally, either applications by the foreign employee and his/her derivative family members for immigrant visas at a U.S. Consulate abroad, or applications to USCIS for adjustment of status to lawful permanent residence. The last step will result in the issuance to the employee and any derivative family members of employment-based immigrant visas and permanent resident cards, also known as "green cards."
Self-Sponsored Permanent Residence
There are also two categories of employment-based green cards that are self-sponsored, rather than employer-sponsored, meaning that a foreign national can file the immigrant visa petition for him/herself and does not need a U.S. employer to be the sponsor:
- Extraordinary Ability: The EB-1(a), or extraordinary ability category, makes a visa available to individuals who are at the top of their profession or field of endeavor, have achieved national or international acclaim, and can meet specific criteria demonstrating their extraordinary ability.
- National Interest Waiver (NIW): The EB-2 National Interest Waiver allows foreign nationals who have exceptional ability or advanced degrees to receive a waiver of the labor certification requirement typically required for employer-sponsored permanent residence. Applicants must show their proposed endeavor has both substantial merit and national importance to the United States, that they are well-positioned to advance the proposed endeavor, and that it would be beneficial to the United States to waive the usual job offer and labor certification requirements.
There is also a separate NIW available to physicians who agree to work in an underserved area in the United States for a five-year period.
Experienced Immigration Attorneys for Employment-Based Permanent Residence
Attorneys Kelley Chenhalls and Jennifer Nissen have concentrated their practice primarily in the area of employment-based immigration law for well over a decade. Chenhalls Nissen, S.C., based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, assists individuals and employers in the United States and internationally with their immigration and visa needs.
We offer our clients up-to-date guidance on visa and immigration law, and take pride in our dedicated personal service and responsiveness to our clients’ needs. We invite you to learn more about our team, our services, and to contact Chenhalls Nissen to schedule a consultation. We look forward to working with you.