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Lawful Permanent Residence through Employment

One way by which a foreign national can acquire the status of a lawful permanent resident is through employment.


How can a foreign national acquire lawful permanent resident status through employment?

Foreign nationals may acquire the status of lawful permanent resident when a US employer sponsors them to become a lawful permanent resident by offering a permanent job or position and filing an application for labor certification and a petition for alien worker.


How can the US employer “sponsor” a foreign national?

  1. The US employer must offer employment in the US to the foreign national.
  2. The employment must not be for a temporary or seasonal type of work, but for a permanent job or position.
  3. The US employer must prove an intent to hire the employee once the petition is approved.
  4. The US employer must show the creation of an employer-employee relationship.
  5. The US employer must show that the employee or prospective employee is qualified for the position.
  6. The US employer must file an Application for Permanent Labor Certification with the US Department of Labor.
  7. The US employer must file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140).


What kind of employees may the US employer “sponsor”?

The US employer may sponsor an employee or worker who is already in the US and is currently employed, but the US employer may also sponsor an employee or worker who is outside the US and is a prospective employee.


What type of workers can be sponsored for immigration to the US?

A US employer may sponsor the following types of employees:

  1. The US employer may sponsor “priority worker” (First preference) such as:
    1. Those with extraordinary ability in science, arts, education, business or athletics;
    2. Outstanding professors or researchers;
    3. Multinational executive and managers.
  2. The US employer may also sponsor “professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional activity:
    1. Those who have exceptional ability in the sciences, arts of business;
    2. Those whose employment will benefit the national economy, cultural or educational interests or welfare of the US.
    3. Those who are members of professions and hold advanced degrees.
  3. The US employer may also sponsor “professionals or skilled workers” such as:
    1. Professionals with baccalaureate degrees;
    2. Aliens capable of skilled labor
    3. Aliens capable of performing unskilled labor;
  4. The US employer may also sponsor “special immigrants” such as:
    1. Religious workers
    2. Employees of the Panama Canal Company or Canal Zone Government
    3. Physicians
    4. Other employees


Why are there preferences?

There is a high demand for immigrant visas (or working visas). There are a lot of US employers who have filed petitions for their employees to migrate to the US. There is also a limited number of working visas that may be issued every year. To ensure efficient and fair issuance of immigrant visas, the USCIS adopted a preference system. Certain types of workers are given first, second, third and fourth preference. The order of preference, the country where the employees come from and the priority number (the date of filing of the application) determines the alien worker’s place on the line for an immigrant visa.


What happens when the US employer’s petition and sponsorship is approved?

When the application with the Department of Labor and/or the petition filed with the USCIS has been approved, the foreign national will be able to immigrate.  The foreign national will wait for an immigrant visa to be available, depending on their order of preference and on the priority date of their application. The employee will be issued a green card or an alien registration card. This means that the employee will enjoy the status of a lawful permanent resident.


What are the benefits of acquiring the status of lawful permanent resident?

The employee will be able to live and work in the US. The employee will also be able to apply for his or her spouse, parent or unmarried children under 21 years of age to join him or her in the US. The employee will also be able to leave and enter the US without applying for a re-entry visa. The employee will be on track to apply for naturalization or US citizenship.


Do you have employees who are foreign nationals?  Do you need help filing a petition for them to acquire the status of a lawful permanent resident?  Speak with any of our immigration lawyers – they are willing and able to advise you on how to file a petition for alien worker.