Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Seattle Immigration Lawyer | Eligibility for a Green Card through Employment

My last Seattle Immigration Lawyer Blog post provided an introduction to the rather daunting process of obtaining a green card through employment. This post will go a little deeper into the eligibility requirements. Before you consider this route, you must have these two things going for you: a job offer from a U.S. employer (there are limited exceptions, including if you possess exceptional abilities or your work is in the national interest), and the employer must be generous enough to sponsor you.

If you have both of these, you are very fortunate indeed. With some more luck, and if you do not make any missteps, you may be successful in eventually getting your green card, which will allow your spouse and any unmarried children under 21 to also be eligible for a green card, assuming they are all admissible to the U.S. (And, after 5 years of having your green card, you will be eligible to apply for naturalization as a citizen.)

If your employer has a legal department (or outside counsel) that will be doing the labor certification process, that’s wonderful. If not, you should not embark on this process without representation. Consult with an experienced Seattle immigration lawyer because the rules are very strict and complex; they have also changed since a totally new system for labor certification was introduced in 2005 known as PERM.

Now, when an employer “sponsors” an immigrant, this entails going through labor certification, which essentially requires the employer to advertise and interview U.S. workers for the very job that you have been offered and reject all of these other candidates on lawful grounds. Of course, there is a lot more to the labor certification process that I will discuss later, including getting a prevailing wage determination from the state, writing a very carefully crafted job description, following a strict timeline, submitting financial records, following different advertising requirements depending on the job, etc. This is why an experienced immigration lawyer should be handling the process.

The good thing for the employer is that while Department of Labor rules require employers to pay for the labor certification process, including attorneys’ fees (though many do not follow this rule), the employer is not a financial sponsor of you, can always withdraw its green card petition for you, and, of course, is always free to fire you. The thing that makes many employers nervous, besides simply the time and money involved, is that they will have to provide financial records to USCIS; however, this is only to make sure the business can afford to hire you.

As far as the offer of employment, it must be for a full-time and permanent or indefinite period. The job must be in the U.S. from an employer permanently located in the U.S. In addition, and this is crucial, you need to have a background that matches the qualifications for the job. This is the most important factor for the government; it is not whether you have more skills than other candidates, or whether the employer likes you more. And, of course, if labor certification is required, the result of the required recruitment process—ironically, undertaken after you have been offered the job—must be that there are no U.S. workers qualified for the job offered.

In my next post, I will finally discuss the five employment-based immigrant visa preferences—anyone wishing to obtain a green card based on their job must apply under one of the preference categories.


  1. Hey thanks for you input in this. I really do think that anyone who would like to immigrate should hire an immigration lawyer to help them prepare paperwork to legally enter, live in and work in the United states.

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