After you have received a suitable job offer from a U.S. employer (if you need a job offer
under your green card category), getting a U.S. green card through employment is a multistage process, involving these steps:
- Your employer requests what’s called a prevailing
wage determination (PWD) from the U.S. Department of Labor, using the
Internet-based iCert system. The PWD is the Department of Labor’s formal ruling
as to how much money is normally paid to people in jobs like the one you’ve
been offered. The PWD will typically expire within a year or less, so it will
be important to recruit for and file the PERM labor certification soon after
the PWD is issued.
- Your employer advertises and recruits for the
job you’ve been offered and ultimately determines (in good faith) that there are no qualified
U.S. workers available and willing to take the job.
- Your employer files a PERM labor certification
application over the Internet, using the electronic USDOL Form 9089.
- You wait the several months that the DOL will
take to adjudicate the PERM labor certification application, and mail the
certified PERM application to your employer (this time frame can extend to over
two years if the DOL chooses your PERM application for audit).
- Within 180 days of the PERM labor certification
approval, your employer files a visa petition using Form I-140, issued by U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
- After USCIS approves the petition, you wait
until a visa is available. It may be immediately available, if the number of
people who applied in your category in that same year is less than the number
of visas available; or if too many people applied, then you may have to wait
until your Priority Date becomes current. (For information on monitoring your Priority
Date – which is equivalent to your place in line on the visa waiting list.)
- You file a green card application using USCIS
Form I-485, in connection with which you may attend an interview, either at a
U.S. consulate outside of the U.S. (through what is called “consular
processing) or at a USCIS office within the United States (through the
procedure called “adjustment of status.” Which procedure you use depends on
where you are living now, and if you are in the U.S., whether you are legally
present or otherwise eligible to adjust status. (For detailed information on
these procedures, see Consular Processing and Adjustment of Status.)
- If your interview is at a consulate, you enter
the U.S. with your immigrant visa, at which time you become a permanent
If you qualify for an immigrant visa category that does not
require labor certification, then you will not need to follow all of the steps
outlined above. You or your employer will simply file the USCIS Form I-140
immigrant petition directly with the USCIS Service Center and, once it’s
approved, either file a Form I-485 green card application with USCIS (if you
are lawfully present within the United States) or await instructions from the National
Visa Center (NVC) to prepare you for a visa interview at a U.S. embassy abroad.
If you’re married or have children below the age of 21 and
you qualify for a green card through employment, your spouse and children can
get green cards as accompanying relatives by providing proof of their family
relationship to you.