Green Card Sponsored by Employer

Green Card Sponsored by Employer – What You Need to Know

Introduction to Green Card Sponsored by Employer

A green card grants foreign nationals the right to live and work permanently in the United States, while nonimmigrant work visas like H-1B or L-1 only allow temporary employment for specific purposes. Employer sponsorship is a significant pathway for obtaining a green card, involving steps like labor certification from the Department of Labor and filing Form I-140 with USCIS. Unlike temporary work visas, a green card provides indefinite authorization to live and work in the U.S., along with the ability to eventually apply for U.S. citizenship, making it crucial to understand the differences between these immigration statuses.

Eligibility Criteria for Employer-Sponsored Green Cards

The U.S. immigration law provides several employment-based (EB) preference categories under which an employer can sponsor a foreign national employee for a green card. The primary categories are:

EB-1: Priority Workers

This category is for individuals with extraordinary abilities in their field, outstanding professors and researchers, and multinational executives/managers. Extraordinary ability must be demonstrated through sustained national or international acclaim. Outstanding professors/researchers must have at least 3 years of experience and international recognition. Multinational managers/executives must have been employed abroad by the same employer for at least 1 year in the preceding 3 years.

EB-2: Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability

This category requires an advanced degree (master’s or higher) or a bachelor’s degree plus 5 years of progressive experience. Individuals with exceptional ability in sciences, arts, or business can also qualify if their employment would substantially benefit the U.S.

EB-3: Skilled Workers, Professionals, and Other Workers

This category includes skilled workers with at least 2 years of experience, professionals with a U.S. bachelor’s degree or foreign equivalent, and unskilled workers capable of performing unskilled labor. For EB-2 and EB-3 categories, the employer must obtain an approved labor certification from the Department of Labor, demonstrating no qualified U.S. workers are available for the position. The employer must also file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (I-140) with USCIS and prove the ability to pay the offered wage. Employees must meet the specific educational, experience, and job requirements for the category.

The Role of the Employer in the Green Card Process

In the employer-sponsored green card process, the employer plays a crucial role, beginning with obtaining a Labor Certification (PERM) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This certification verifies that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position and that hiring a foreign worker will not negatively impact the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers. The PERM process involves several steps: defining the job requirements, obtaining a prevailing wage determination, conducting a recruitment campaign to test the labor market, and submitting Form 9089 to the DOL.

Once the PERM certification is approved, the employer must file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), demonstrating the employee’s qualifications and the employer’s ability to pay the offered wage. Financially, the employer is responsible for all costs associated with the PERM process, including recruitment expenses and legal fees. While the employer is not required to cover the costs of filing Form I-140 and the employee’s adjustment of status (Form I-485), they may choose to do so as part of their sponsorship agreement.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Green Card Process

The green card process through employer sponsorship involves several key steps:

Starting with the Labor Certification (PERM). The PERM process requires the employer to test the U.S. labor market to ensure no qualified U.S. workers are available for the position and to obtain a prevailing wage determination from the Department of Labor (DOL). This step typically takes about 4-6 months, but can extend to over a year if audited.

Once the PERM is approved, the employer files Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), demonstrating the employee’s qualifications and the employer’s ability to pay the offered wage.

The I-140 processing time varies but generally takes around 6 months, with an option for premium processing within 15-45 days for an additional fee.

After I-140 approval, the employee can either file for Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) if they are in the U.S., or undergo consular processing if they are abroad.

Adjustment of Status can take 8-14 months, while consular processing typically takes 6-12 months. Each step requires meticulous documentation and adherence to timelines to ensure a smooth process.

The employer-sponsored green card process presents several legal and procedural challenges that must be navigated carefully. One significant hurdle is the possibility of a PERM audit by the Department of Labor (DOL). During a PERM audit, the DOL requests additional documentation and information from the employer to verify compliance with the PERM program’s requirements. Responding to an audit can add several months to the processing time, so it’s crucial to be prepared with comprehensive documentation and a thorough understanding of the audit process.

Another common challenge is priority date backlogs, which can cause significant delays in the green card process. Priority dates are subject to retrogression, meaning they can become inactive again due to high demand, requiring applicants to wait until their priority date becomes current before proceeding. Throughout the entire process, maintaining legal status is paramount. Failure to maintain valid nonimmigrant status during the green card application process can jeopardize the entire endeavor. Consulting with experienced immigration attorneys and staying informed about the latest policies and processing times can help address these challenges and ensure a smooth transition to permanent residency.

Supporting Employee Families

Employer-sponsored green card applications not only benefit the employee but can also extend support to their immediate family members. Through derivative applications, the spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age can be included in the process, ensuring that the entire family unit can potentially gain permanent residency status in the United States. This provision offers invaluable peace of mind to employees, knowing that their loved ones can accompany them on their journey towards establishing a more stable and secure future in the country.

Additionally, it fosters a sense of stability within the workplace, as employees can focus on their roles without the burden of worrying about their family’s immigration status. Furthermore, by facilitating the inclusion of family members, employers demonstrate a commitment to supporting their employees beyond the workplace, fostering loyalty and a positive work environment. Overall, the ability to include derivative applications in employer-sponsored green card processes underscores the holistic approach to immigration support and reinforces the importance of family unity in the immigration journey.


The employer-sponsored green card process is complex and nuanced, with numerous legal requirements and potential pitfalls. Navigating this intricate system without proper guidance can lead to costly mistakes, delays, or even denial of the application. Seeking assistance from experienced immigration attorneys is crucial to ensure compliance with ever-changing regulations, accurate completion of forms and documentation, and a smooth transition to permanent residency. Legal professionals can provide invaluable advice on maintaining legal status, addressing challenges such as PERM audits or priority date backlogs, and representing the interests of both employers and employees throughout the process. While it may involve additional costs, the expertise and guidance of immigration lawyers can ultimately save time, mitigate risks, and increase the chances of a successful green card application.