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workWhat is employment-based immigration?

The US sets aside 140,000 immigrant visas (green cards) each year to be granted to intending immigrants based upon their employment abilities.


Tel: In the US: (760) 231-6498
In the UK call 0207-101-9399   email:


As an initial point it is important to understand the difference between an Immigrant visa, commonly known as a ‘Green card’ and a non immigrant visa such as an H-1b, L-1 or E-2

FAQ-Employment based Green cards.

1. Do I need to be sponsored by a US based Employer?

2. What must this employer/sponsor do?

3. What is PERM or the labor certification process?

4. How long does the process take?

5. Do I need any particular skills or qualifications to apply for an employment based green card?

Do I need to be sponsored by a US employer?
With certain limited exceptions, foreign workers must be sponsored by a US based employer to obtain a green card.

What must an employer do to sponsor me for a green card?
With the exception of Persons of Extraordinary Ability and Intra Company Transferees, persons seeking to apply for an employment based green card  must have an offer of employment in writing and obtain ‘labor certification’.

What is PERM or labor certification?
Employers sponsoring intending immigrants must file an application for “labor certification” with the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration that demonstrates that there are no US workers able, willing, and qualified to perform for the position that she or he is offering. An employer can demonstrate this by, for example, advertising the position in local or national newspapers or trade journals and showing that no suitable US workers applied for the job. In addition, your employer must demonstrate that hiring you will not adversely affect wages and working conditions of US workers, that he or she has the financial ability to pay the offered wage, and that you meet the minimum requirements to perform the job satisfactorily. Once the labor certification is approved, it is submitted to USCIS (Immigration and Naturalization Service). This submission constitutes your employer’s request to hire you for the position. After obtaining the approval of USCIS, you must file an application to either “adjust” your status if you are already in the US (this is filed with USCIS) or obtain an immigrant visa if you are abroad (this is filed with the US Consulate). Once this application is approved, you will become a permanent resident in the US and may commence permanent employment.

How long does the labor certification process take?
The newly introduced PERM labor certification system has at least theoretically streamlined the old labor certification process. Once the recruitment process has been completed (and which includes at a minimum two Sunday newspaper print advertisements and often other steps), the labor certification request is submitted on-line and can be approved in a matter of months unless subject to a random audit.

Once the alien worker is ‘certified’, an application for the Green card can be filed and processed only when a visa is available. Unfortunately severe backlogs have developed due to the over subscription of work based Green cards. Unless the worker can be classified as an advanced degree professional the wait before one can actually file for the Green card is currently around  2 years for most applicants.

Do I need any particular skills or qualifications to apply for an employment based green card?
Formal qualifications, such as  a degree or a diploma are not specifically required. Realistically, you will need to show that you are a ‘skilled worker’. A ‘skilled worker’ is defined as someone with at least two years experience in their trade or profession. Therefore, individuals who are ineligible for a temporary professional workers visa such as a H1-B or L-1due to a lack of a university degree or managerial experience may still be regarded as ‘skilled workers’ for employment based green cards.

To view the different preferences for employment based green cards click here.

Tel: In the US (760) 231-6498
In the UK call 0207-101-9399   email: