Green Card Steps

Common Green Card Types (Employment based)

There are multiple categories of green card that workers can apply for within the employment-based green card. This is the initial step to apply for permanent residency. There are140,000 employment-based green cards being granted each year. Most these visas are reserved for experts with extraordinary ability in a given field, or workers whose skills are in high-demand in the United States.

Below are some of the most popular types of employment based green card.


  • First preference (EB-1) – priority workers
    • Aliens with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics;
    • Outstanding professors and researchers; or
    • Certain multinational managers and executives.
  • Second preference (EB-2) – aliens who are members of the professions holding advanced degrees or who have exceptional ability (including requests for national interest waivers).
  • Third preference (EB-3) – skilled workers, professionals, or other workers.


Green Card Steps:

Green Card Steps

1. Labor Certification (PERM)

In order to receive a green card based on EB-2 and EB-3, all applications are require that the employer obtain a Labor Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. The Labor Certification process is often the hardest green card step. Before the filing of the Labor Certification application, the employer must obtain a prevailing wage (Prevailing Wage Determination or PWD) from the Department of Labor and prove that there are no minimally qualified U.S. workers available for the positions through the completion of a competitive recruitment process.

According to the Department of Labor:

The actual process for permanent labor certification varies depending upon the program being used. This Web site contains information regarding the process for filing for each of the programs under the Department of Labor’s (DOL) jurisdiction. The filing of applications is the responsibility of the employer, not the employee. However, the employee can benefit from understanding the program being utilized in his/her behalf. In general, the DOL works to ensure that the admission of foreign workers to work in the U.S. will not adversely affect the job opportunities, wages and working conditions of U.S. workers. Once a permanent labor certification application has been approved by the DOL, the employer will need to seek the immigration authorization from USCIS.


After the Labor Certification get filed with the Department of Labor, the “priority date” for the applicant is established. This date is important to determine when someone can complete the Adjustment of Status. If the Labor Certification is not required, the priority date is established with the filing of the Immigrant Petition/ Form I-140.


2. Immigrant Petition

Once the PERM has been approved, the US employer must then file an I-140 Immigration Petition for Alien Worker within six months of the approval date of the PERM application. The company must prove that the business are in good financial shape in order to demonstrate their ability to pay the salary for the job position. I-140 Premium Processing allows employment-based green card applicants to file for expedited processing of their Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for an Alien Worker.


3. Adjustment of Status or Obtaining an Immigrant Visa

This is the last green card steps. Once the I-140 application has been approved by USCIS, the worker can either apply for the adjustment from non-immigrant status (Form I-485) to a legal permanent resident, or apply for an immigrant visa at a U.S. consulate or embassy abroad.

Important note:

Your I-485 Adjustment of Status application cannot be filed until  the “priority date” is current. Priority date can be understand as your specific place in line to apply for green card. Depending on the employee’s country of birth and green card category, there may be a backlog. The backlog exists because more people apply for green cards in a given category than there are available green card visa numbers. The total number of green cards is restricted by the rule of no more than 7% of all green cards in a given preference category can go to individuals born in a given country. The U.S. Department of State publishes a monthly visa bulletin that lists the priority dates which have become current. You will reached the front of the line when your priority date becomes “current.”



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