Employment Immigration - Permanent Work Visa
Employment-based ("EB") immigration grants an employee the right to work in the U.S. permanently. These type of visas are divided into five categories -
First Preference – Priority Workers (EB-1 Category)
The First Preference category, or EB-1, is generally the most desirable out of all Employment Based immigration categories for two reasons. First, an applicant in this category does not have to go through the "Labor Certification Application" through the Department of Labor. This process could otherwise add as much as 6-9 months towards the immigrant visa. Secondly, the wait times for EB-1 visa numbers are shorter because the priority dates are more frequently current. Also, the EB-1 category’s priority dates are more frequently current than EB-2 or EB-3. Therefore, for applicants from countries which have immigrant visa backlogs (such as India, China, Mexico, and Philippines), this type of visa can be very helpful.
This type of a visa includes three categories:
Second Preference – Members of Professions with Advanced Degrees or Aliens of Exceptional Ability (EB-2 Category)
The Second Preference category is for professionals with advanced degrees or for individuals who will substantially benefit the U.S. economy, cultural, or educational interests because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. These applicants must go through the PERM process to obtain a Labor Certification from the Department of Labor. Additionally, these applicants have a longer wait time than EB-1 applicants. Nevertheless, these wait times are often shorter than the EB-3 visa applicants.
See the following sections for more details on the different types of EB-2 visas:
Third Preference – Professionals, Skilled and Other Workers (EB-3 Category)
The Third Preference, or EB-3 category applies to professionals, skilled workers, and other workers. These applicants - like the EB-2 applicants - must have a job offer and apply for a Labor Certification with the Department of Labor. In addition, there are lesser visa numbers available for EB-3 applicants than for EB-2 applicants, which translates into long wait times because of visa backlogs.
See the following sections for more details on the different types of EB-3 visas:
Fourth Preference – Special Immigrants (EB-4 Category)
The Fourth Preference is for "special immigrants". These applicants may petition without an employer, but must file the Form I-360 with documentary evidence showing that they are eligible as special immigrants.
When can I apply for a Green Card if I am already in the U.S. on an H-1B?
Many applicants often mistakenly think that an employee needs to remain on an H-1B before applying for a Green Card through their employer. However, this is not true. An employer can file for an employee's Green Card even in the first year of hiring an H-1B employee. More often than not, this application is for an EB-3 visa. EB-3 is an immigrant visa for employment based permanent residency intended for professionals and skilled workers.
What are the steps that an employer must take to apply for an employee's Green Card through the EB-3 category?
Similar to the H-1B process, an application for an EB-3 visa starts with fulfilling Department of Labor's requirements, in that the employer must advertise the employee's position for at least 30 days to see if there are any US workers which could meet such requirements. This is also known as Labor Certification Application. Subsequently, there is an application to the USCIS. The forms associated with appying to the USCIS include, amongst others, I-140 - Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, I-485 - Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, I-765 - Application for Employment Authorization, and a Medical Exam.