Permanent Residence or Green Card Sponsorship

March 10, 2015 by Jenifer M. Brown, Partner
Permanent Residence or Green Card Sponsorship

Ice Miller can help innovators overcome critical challenges to grow successful agribusinesses. Learn more about the unique business and legal challenges facing food and agricultural innovators and how to protect and grow that innovation in our 2015 Agribusiness Guide. An excerpt follows:

Permanent resident status, commonly referred to as “green card,” is usually obtained either by having a close family relationship to a United States citizen or through a permanent job offer in the United States. The employment-based permanent visas are divided into five (5) categories, based primarily on the education and skill required for the offered position. Due to numerical quotas, the waiting period in certain categories may be many years dependent upon the assigned preference classification and the applicant’s country of birth. In most cases, however, the foreign national is present in the United States in a temporary visa status while awaiting permanent status.

The five (5) employment-based categories are as follows:

Priority Workers. This category includes persons of “extraordinary ability” in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics (similar to the O-1 nonimmigrant visa category); outstanding professors and researchers; certain multi-national executives and managers who have been employed abroad for at least one (1) year by the same employer (similar to the L-1A non-immigrant visa category). The burdensome requirement of labor market testing is not required for immigrants in this category.

Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Foreign Nationals of “Exceptional Ability.” These are members of the professions holding advanced degrees, i.e. a degree which requires at least one (1) year of graduate study following completion of a four (4) year undergraduate degree.The category also includes foreign nationals with “exceptional ability” in the sciences, arts, or business, if their presence will substantially benefit the United States prospectively. For most foreign nationals in this category, the United States employer must obtain “labor certification” from the Department of Labor as a prerequisite to obtaining approval of an immigrant visa petition. This process requires advertisement of the position and certification that no qualified United States workers could be found.

Skilled Workers, Professionals Holding Basic Degrees, and “Other Workers.” “Professionals” must have baccalaureate degrees, while “Skilled Workers” must have two (2) years of training or experience for the position offered. The “Unskilled Worker” category is a catch-all provision for individuals who fail to qualify in a higher category. As noted, a substantial delay for visas in the “Unskilled Worker” category may be expected. Labor certification is required in this category which consists of a rigorous labor market test to prove there are no U.S. workers qualified and available for the offered position.

Special Immigrants. This category includes ministers and religious workers, and certain other special groups.

Investors. Individuals who make a capital investment of at least One Million Dollars ($1,000,000) and who employ ten (10) or more United States workers may qualify for a limited number of “Investor Visas.” Investment of Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000) will suffice for investors in certain targeted areas of unemployment.

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