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How to Apply for Immigrant Status Based on Employment

In legal terms, an immigrant is any foreign national authorized to live and work in the U.S. permanently. To become a legal immigrant in the U.S., you and your employer must complete the following steps:

  1. The U.S. employer typically files out an immigrant petition on behalf of the applicant, which must be approved by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
  2. The U.S. employer completes a labor certification request (ETA-750) on behalf of the applicant.
  3. The U.S. State Dept. will issue an immigrant visa number to the applicant, even if you already reside in the U.S.
  4. Those already in the U.S. must apply for a green card (adjust to permanent resident status) when their visa number is made available. Those who are outside of the U.S. when their visa numbers become available will be notified by the corresponding U.S. consulate to complete the immigrant visa process.

Eligibility for Employment-Based Immigration

USCIS has five categories of immigration status that are based on employment, listed below from the highest to the lowest preference. Labor certification is required for EB-2 (unless applicant obtains a national interest waiver) and EB-3. See "Permanent Workers" at the USCIS Website for more information.

  • EB-1: Priority Workers - Extraordinary ability in the fields of athletics, business, arts, sciences or education; outstanding researchers or college professors; business executives/managers transferred to the U.S.
  • EB-2: Professionals with Advanced Degrees or with Exceptional Ability - Exceptional ability in the fields of business, the arts or sciences; professionals with advanced degrees; medical physicians practicing in traditionally underserved areas of the U.S.
  • EB-3: Skilled/Professional Workers - Professionals with bachelor's degrees who do not qualify for a higher preference category; skilled workers, with a minimum of two years training and experience; unskilled workers
  • EB-4: Special Immigrants - Religious workers; current and former employees of the U.S. government living overseas
  • EB-5: Immigrant Investors - Those seeking green cards in connection with a new commercial enterprise (annual limit of 10,000)

How to File a Petition for an Alien Worker

The foreign national's employer must complete and file a Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) with the USCIS Regional Service Center serving the area where the immigrant will be working. For more details on each immigration preference, including examples of documentary evidence and information about the application process, click on the appropriate link below:

Checking the Status of Your Petition

Contact the USCIS office where your application was filed and be prepared to provide staff with specific information about your application. See "My Case Status" to check the status of your petition.

Appealing an Adverse Decision

You may appeal if your Petition for Alien Worker is denied. To do so, you must file a Notice of Appeal and the required fee with the appropriate USCIS Regional Service Center within 33 days of receiving notice of the denial.

You Don’t Have To Solve This on Your Own – Get a Lawyer’s Help

Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.

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Next Steps

Contact a qualified immigration attorney to help you with visa procedures.

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