Many employers have “temporary” or nonimmigrant (H-1B, L-1, TN, etc.) employees who have made significant contributions to the company and are now ready to extend their employment indefinitely. The next step is to sponsor the nonimmigrant employee for U.S. Lawful Permanent Residence status (a “green card”). We counsel employers on the many green card options and assist in determining which one is the right choice for both employer and the employee.
PERM – Labor Certification
Generally, when an employer wishes to move an employee from temporary status to a green card, the initial first step in that process will be the PERM or Labor Certification through the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”). Some categories, like the EB-1 and NIW, are exempt from this process but, for most employers and employees, PERM is an essential first step in the green card process. The PERM process requires that an employer recruit available U.S. workers per DOL requirements. By following the prescribed recruitment process, an employer can demonstrate to the DOL that it could not find any available, minimally qualified U.S. workers ready, willing, and able to undertake the offered position and, as such, should be allowed to petition its foreign worker for a green card utilizing that offered position as the basis.
Labor Certification requires a job offer in the United States, confirmation that no US workers were minimally qualified for that position, and confirmation that the employer has provided proper notice, is paying appropriate wages, and there is no strike or lockout currently occurring at the worksite.
USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) has created four different categories for employment-based immigration. The category for the employees you are bringing in will depend on what type of company you’re running, as well as what role the employee will fill at your company. The following is an overview of each of these options. Please contact us for help with your specific needs!
Permanent Resident Petition Categories
The EB-1 Category
The EB-1 category is for companies bringing in employees with extraordinary abilities in their field. The fields that can qualify are the sciences (including technology), art, education, business, and athletics. Professors and researchers in these categories can also qualify under this category, as can executives and managers of multinational organizations.
The EB-2 Category
This category is somewhat similar to the EB-1 category except that employees are approved based on their ability to substantially benefit the economy, culture, or educational interests of the United States. Like the EB-1 category, EB-2 is focused on bringing those with high skill levels in the sciences, art, education, business, and athletics.
The EB-3 Category
The EB-3 category is offered to newer workers who have fewer than two years of experience in their industry. These are often unskilled workers who are brought in to perform labor. Companies are encouraged to seek US citizens to fill the role first, but if none are found, the EB-3 Category is available to bring in the help they need.
The EB-4 Category
This category is quite broad and is used by many companies who need specific help. The category lists the exact types of professions that can qualify. Included in this category are religious workers, broadcasters (television or radio), Iraqi or Afghan translators, physicians, those in the armed forces, those working at the Panama Canal, and retired NATO-6 employees and their spouses & children.
Determining which of these categories is right for the employees you are looking to bring in can be difficult and confusing. Attempting to apply for the wrong category can cause delays and other problems, which is why it is so important to work with a qualified immigration attorney to evaluate your situation and help you choose which category of employment based permanent residence you should be seeking.
If you would like to sponsor an employee for permanent residence or have questions about obtaining labor certification, contact us today for a complimentary consultation.