Permanent Resident Visas (Green Cards)

Employment Based Green Card

Individuals seeking a lawful permanent resident visa (employment based green card) through employment based immigration may do so based on the fact that they have a permanent opportunity to work in the US and an employer that wishes to sponsor them for a US work permit. The road to a permanent resident visa (green card) utilizing the employment based immigration process involves multiple steps:

  • First, foreign nationals and employers must determine if the foreign national is eligible for lawful permanent residency under one of US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) roads to an employment based green card. Consultation with an experienced US immigration lawyer to obtain a US work permit is important here since each individual’s situation is different.
  • Second, most employment based visa categories require that the U.S. employer complete a labor certification request (Form ETA 750) for the applicant, and submit it to the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, whom will either grant or deny the certification request. Qualified alien physicians, who will practice medicine in an area of the United States which has been certified as underserved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are relieved from this requirement.
  • Third, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) must approve an immigrant employment based visa petition, which is filed on the Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, for the person seeking US work permit. It is the employer who files the Form I-140, not the foreign national seeking employment based immigration. The employer serves as the sponsor for the foreign national to obtain a US work permit to work in the USA.
  • Fourth, the State Department must give the applicant an employment based visa number, even if the applicant is already in the United States. When the applicant receives an immigrant US visa number, it means that an immigrant visa to the US has been assigned to the applicant. For your convenience we have provided a link to the Visa Bulletin which is published by the Department of State. Visa Bulletin.
  • Fifth, if the applicant is already in the United States, he or she must apply to adjust to employment based green card status (permanent resident) after a employment based visa number becomes available. If the applicant is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he or she will be notified and must complete the employment based immigration process at his or her local U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.
H-1B Visa Information

Click above for the clear concise Green Card Process.

Eligibility for a Employment Based Immigration

There are five categories for granting employment based green card status to foreign nationals based on employment skills. For your convenience, we have provided links to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website providing definitions for each category of employment based visa that allows foreign nations to work in the US.

  • EB-1 US Visa category – Priority workers
    • Foreign nationals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics
    • Foreign national that are outstanding professors or researchers
    • Foreign nationals that are managers and executives subject to international transfer to the United States
  • EB-2 US Visa category – Professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability
    • Foreign nationals of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business
    • Foreign nationals that are advanced degree professionals
    • Qualified alien physicians who will practice medicine in an area of the U.S. which is underserved.
  • EB-3 US Visa category – Skilled or professional workers
    • Foreign national professionals with bachelor’s degrees (not qualifying for a higher preference category)
    • Foreign national skilled workers (minimum two years training and experience)
    • Foreign national unskilled workers
  • EB-4 US Visa category – Special Immigrants
    • Foreign national religious workers
    • Employees and former employees of the U.S. Government abroad
  • EB-5 Investors Visa – A green card based on EB-5 investors visa eligibility is available to investors, either alone or coming with their spouse and unmarried children. Individuals seeking to immigrate through investment are those who have invested — or are actively in the process of investing — the required amount of capital into a new commercial enterprise that they have established. They must further demonstrate that this investment will benefit the United States economy and create the requisite number of full-time jobs for qualified persons within the United States.

Family Sponsored Green Card

Become Lawful Permanent US Resident / Citizen Through Family Sponsorship

Some individuals may seek a Family Sponsored Green Card to become a lawful permanent US Resident based on the fact that they have a relative, who is a citizen of the Untied States or who is a lawful permanent US resident.

  • First, the US Immigration and Naturalization Services (USCIS) must approve an immigrant visa petition, which is filed on the Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. The Form I-130 is filed by the sponsoring relative and must be accompanied by proof of the relationship to the requesting relative.

  • Second, the Department of State must determine if an immigrant visa number is immediately available to the foreign national. This is the case even if the foreign national is already in the United States. When an immigrant visa number becomes immediately available, it is then possible to apply to have one of the immigrant visa numbers assigned. For your convenience, we are providing a link to the Visa Bulletin published by the Department of State. Visa Bulletin.
  • Third, if the foreign national is already in the United States, he or she may apply to adjust status to that of a lawful permanent resident (green card status) after a visa number becomes available. If the foreign national is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he or she must then go to the U.S. Embassy or Consular office with jurisdiction over the area in which the foreign national resides to complete your processing. This is the other way in which you can apply to secure an immigrant visa number.
H-1B Visa Information

Click above for the ins and outs of a U.S. Marriage Visa.

Who is eligible to sponsor a family member for a Family Sponsored Green Card?

To be eligible to sponsor a relative to become a US Citizen through family sponsored immigration an individual must meet the following criteria:

  • He or she must be a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the United States (including US green card holder) and be able to provide documentation proving your status.
  • He or she must prove their ability to support their relative at 125% above the mandated poverty line. Click here to find out more information about meeting this criteria and filing an affidavit of support
  • If you are a US Citizen you may petition for the following foreign national relatives to immigrate to the USA; however you must be able to provide proof of the relationships:
    • Husband or wife;
    • Unmarried child under 21 years old;
    • Unmarried son or daughter over 21;
    • Married son or daughter of any age;
    • Brother or sister, if you are at least 21 years of age; or
    • aren’t, if you are at least 21 years of age
  • The categories of green card sponsorship are more limited for lawful permanent residents, who are eligible to file for:
    • Husband or wife; or
    • Unmarried son or daughter of any age.
H-1B Visa Information

Click above for the ins and outs of a U.S. Marriage Visa.

What is the difference between an Immediate Relative Category and the Preference System?

People who seek a green card through family-based immigration fall into either the Immediate Relative Category or Preference System.

Who falls within the Immediate Relative Category for Family Sponsored Immigration?

The family sponsored green card category includes parents, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 of U.S. citizens. Individuals falling into this category do not have to wait for an immigrant visa number to become available once the visa petition filed for them is approved by the US Immigration and Naturalization Services (USCIS). An immigrant visa number will be immediately available for immediate relatives of U.S. citizens.

Who falls within the Preference System for a Family Sponsored Green Card?

This category includes the following individuals who, must wait for an immigrant visa number to become available according to the following preferences:

  • First Preference: Unmarried adult sons and daughters of U.S. citizens. Adult means 21 years of age or older.
  • Second Preference: Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children (under twenty-one), and the unmarried sons and daughters of lawful permanent residents.
  • Third Preference: Married sons and daughters of U.S. citizens.
  • Fourth Preference: Brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens.

Once US Immigration and Naturalization Services (USCIS) receives the US visa petition for a Family Sponsored Green Card it will be approved or denied. The USCIS will then notify the person who filed the US visa petition if the US visa petition is approved. The approved visa petition to the Department of State’s National Visa Center, where it will remain until an immigrant visa number is available. The Center will notify the petitioner and the foreign national when the visa petition is received and again when an immigrant visa number is available.

The 1996 immigration law significantly tightened immigrant visa eligibility by adding new requirements to the public charge ground of inadmissibly and requires the petitioner of all family-based immigrant visa petitions to submit the Form I-864 affidavit of support. What do I need to know about the public charge grounds?

The Department of Homeland Security, USCIS website sets forth in Question and Answer format important information on Public Charge. We recommend you click on the following link below and review the information.

When does the petitioner’s liability under the Form I-864 terminate?

The liability of the sponsor executing the Form I-864 terminates only upon one of the following occurrences:

  • On the sponsored immigrant’s naturalization;
  • On the sponsored immigrant’s earning or being credited with a total of 40 “qualifying quarters” as defined by social security law;
  • On the sponsored immigrant’s death;
  • On the sponsored immigrant’s loss or abandonment of lawful permanent resident status and departure from the US; or
  • On the sponsor’s death.

Will a divorce nullify the responsibility under the I-864?

No. The Form I-864 is a binding contract. For example, in an immediate relative marriage petition where the petitioner and beneficiary divorce, the obligation of the sponsor does NOT terminate upon the couple’s divorce.

Does a Form I-864 sponsor have an obligation to notify the DHS of a change of address?

Yes. A sponsor has a continuing obligation to inform the DHS and the state in which the sponsored immigrant is residing of the sponsor’s change of address, or be subject to civil fines.

EB-5 Investors Visa Program

What is the EB-5 Investors Visa Program?

Congress created the fifth-employment preference (EB-5) immigrant visa category in 1990 with the objective to attract foreign capital to the United States and to create jobs for American workers. Those seeking to immigrate through investment under this category must be willing to engage in a commercial enterprise that will benefit the U.S. economy and create at least 10 full-time jobs. In addition to the return that immigrant investors hope to achieve on their investment, the EB-5 investors visa candidates offers the prospect, but not the guarantee, of lawful permanent residence (green card) in the United States.

What is the minimum investment required for the EB-5 Investors Visa?

The EB-5 investors visa program calls for a minimum investment of $1,000,000 USD. This sum may be reduced to $500,000 USD if the enterprise that receives the investment is situated in a Targeted Employment Area (TEA). TEA’s must meet one of two criteria, the first, concerning population, and the second, concerning the rate of unemployment.

Summer & Keil with Senator Patrick Leahy, Judiciary Chairman, Immigration Subcommittee

What is the new commercial enterprise requirement?

There are two basic requirements for demonstrating a new commercial enterprise. First, the enterprise must be “new.” That is, formed after November 29, 1990. Although, an enterprise formed before that date may qualify if the investor “restructures” or “expands” an existing business. Second, the enterprise must be a “commercial” enterprise. Generally, any for-profit enterprise formed for the ongoing conduct of lawful business will serve as a commercial enterprise. This includes sole proprietorships, partnerships, joint ventures, corporations, business trusts, and other entities publicly or privately owned. There are situations where even a holding company and its wholly owned subsidiaries may meet the definition, if each such subsidiary is engaged in a for-profit activity formed for the ongoing conduct of a lawful business.

Can the investor’s role be passive?

US immigration laws require the investor to maintain more than a passive role in the new enterprise. The regulations require the investor to be involved in the management of the new commercial enterprise and to be involved in either the day-to-day operations or management of the day-to-day operations through policy formulation. There are some situations where membership in a limited partnership may satisfy the requirement.

What is the job creation requirement?

To qualify as an EB-5 investors visa, each investor must demonstrate that 10 full-time, year-around jobs will be created as a result of the investment. This requirement is not affected by the location of the investment in a targeted employment area (which is relevant only to the minimum sum of the investment). The jobs created must be for U.S. citizens, lawful permanent residents and those lawfully admitted to the United States, such as asylees, refugees, conditional residents and some others. Excluded from the job count are Non-immigrant (temporary) workers and the investor alongside of the investor’s family members.

What constitutes a job?

A full-time job is one that requires at least 35 hours each week to fulfill. While job sharing is permitted under certain circumstances, the EB-5 investors visa program does not permit the combination of part-time jobs in an effort to create a full-time position.

Normally, independent contractors are excluded from the direct job creation count; however, an exception exists for enterprises located within a Regional Center created under a Pilot Program first enacted in 1993.

What does it mean to “invest” capital?

The term “invest” means to contribute capital. A contribution of capital in exchange for a note, bond, convertible debt, or other debt between the entrepreneur and the new commercial enterprise does not constitute a contribution of capital and will not constitute an investment. The regulations define “capital” as cash and cash equivalents, equipment, investor, and other tangible property.

Is permanent resident status immediately acquired?

No. Immigrant investors, their spouses and dependent children are subject to a two-year period known as “conditional” permanent resident status. Only after the two year period has expired will the investor be eligible to file a petition to remove the conditional status and then obtain a greencard.

How long does the initial EB-5 process take?

The EB-5 process is one of the most complex immigrant visas, and in many case it may be more feasible to seek an alternate visa. Many individuals have found that the L-1A nonimmigrant visa with corresponding EB-1/3 immigrant visa is less expensive and more suitable to the individuals goals. To read more about the L-1A, click here and EB-1/3 program, click here.

Read More on EB-5 Program

January 2010 – Developers Apply For EB-5 Regional Center Designation As A Viable Alternative To Traditional Bank Financing. A program under the immigration laws known as EB-5 is a hot topic in the construction world as developers learn how to… Read More

December 2009 – What Every Foreign Investor Should Know Before Risking Their Capital In An EB-5 Project In 1990 Congress created the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program as an adjunct to the EB-5 Program. The pilot program allows immigrant investors to invest the required capital in government-designated Regional Centers established to promote economic growth and job creation… Read More

November 2008 – EB-5 Immigrant Investor Pilot Program On September 30th, 2008 President signed into law a resolution which extends the EB-5 regional center pilot program. – The Immigrant Investor Pilot Program (commonly referred to as the Regional Center Program) was established pursuant to Section 610 of Public Law 102-395 on October 6, 1992 and differs in certain aspects from the basic EB-5 investor program… Read More