Now you have your H-1b, how do you get your employer to sponsor you for an employment-based green card? The visa number backlogs vary enormously based on the applicant’s nationality. It is always better to start early.
The procedure for an employer to sponsor foreign nationals for lawful permanent residence (a.k.a. green card) is composed of three phases: the PERM labor certification, the visa petition, and the application for permanent residence.
I. PERM Labor Certification
A foreign national seeking to obtain U.S. lawful permanent residence through employment must be the beneficiary of an approved application for permanent employment certification. This application requires the employer to test the labor market to determine whether there are any qualified and available U.S. workers who are immediately available to accept the offered position of intended employment. The U.S. employer is required to obtain a prevailing wage determination (PWD) from the National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC). After obtaining a PWD, the employer is required to take required recruitment steps.
II. The Visa Petition
If the PERM application is certified and the employer wishes to proceed to the next step, filing the employment-based immigrant petition (Form I-140) with USCIS, the beneficiary will be required to provide documentation to establish that he or she met the advertised requirements for the position on the date that the PERM application was filed. To file the immigrant visa petition, the employer must also establish that it has the ability to pay the beneficiary of the PERM application at least the prevailing wage as determined by the formal PWD requestor the offered wage, which may be higher than the prevailing wage.
III. Application for Lawful Permanent Residence
The last phase of the process allows the employee file his or her Form I-485, applications for adjustment of status (the application that grants permanent residence). At the end of this step, the employee will be granted permanent residence, and, shortly thereafter, be issued a “green card” as evidence of permanent residence. In the event of a backlog in the employment-based priority dates, the beneficiary and family members will not be able to file concurrent I-485 applications. They will need to wait until their priority date becomes current before they can file these applications.