Gaining Citizenship Through Employment-Based Immigration
Employment-based immigration is a pathway to citizenship based on jobs requiring a unique set of employee skills. The process for pursuing a green card through employment-based immigration typically involves three steps. First, a U.S. employer acquires a labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Next, the employer must petition the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) on behalf of the foreign national for immigrant classification. After the labor certification is issued and USCIS grants immigration status, the final step is for the foreign national to apply for a green card.
Labor certification is not required for all employment categories, but there are always education and experience requirements that must be met for every position.
Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) Labor Certificates
The PERM labor certificate was created as a way to protect U.S. workers in the job market while also creating an employment-based path to citizenship for foreign workers. PERM applicants must prove that they have unique skills that cannot be replicated by any available U.S. workers. The EB-2 and EB-3 visas both require a PERM labor certificate as part of the application process.
U.S. employers that wish to offer a PERM labor certificate must first conduct recruitment efforts to locate possible U.S. workers for the position and submit documentation of these efforts with their application. The application goes on to the Department of Labor to be audited. If approved, it may then be granted. This is the first step in an employment-based green card.
H1-B Temporary Work Visas
H-1B visas allow U.S. companies to hire foreign workers in specialty occupations to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis. For a foreign worker to acquire an H-1B visa, there must be a job offer and the employer offering the job must file a petition to sponsor the foreign worker. H1-B visas are approved for a maximum of three years at a time and cannot be extended beyond six years.
R-1 Visas For Religious Workers
USCIS grants R-1 Visas to foreign national religious workers to work for tax-exempt religious organizations in the U.S. for up to 30 months. You will need to prove that you have a position that qualifies for the R-1 visa; religious study or training for a position does not qualify. The religious organization that you will be working for must also prove that it has the ability to pay your salary.
It’s not uncommon for USCIS to request additional information in the form of a Request For Evidence (RFE) process. We can help you make sure all of your application materials are in order and help you respond to a RFE petition if you should receive one.