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How can a non-immigrant professional become a permanent resident?

If you have a temporary work visa in the U.S., you may be wondering about your options to stay in the U.S. permanently. Can you get your U.S. employer to sponsor you for a green card?

The answer is often "yes." However, the type of job you have can affect the relative ease of this process. In this post, we examine one major barrier in obtaining green card sponsorship from an employer: labor certification.

What is labor certification?

Labor certification is a lengthy and complex process that a U.S.-based employer must undergo if they wish to hire a permanent worker from a foreign country. Under most circumstances, in order to hire a foreign worker, the employer must first prove that hiring such an individual will not negatively impact American jobs, working conditions and wages. In addition, the employer must test the labor market and demonstrate to the Department of Labor that there are not sufficient, equally qualified American workers available for the same position in the location in question.

These conditions can be complicated to prove. Therefore, the added challenges associated with hiring a foreign worker can dissuade some employers from pursuing labor certification in the first place.

Is there any way around this?

Fortunately, there is a loophole for certain categories of workers. If you qualify as an EB-1 priority worker, then the process can be considerably simpler. A priority worker is considered outstanding in some regard. Such a worker may:

  • Have exceptional abilities in the arts, sciences, education, business or sports
  • Be an outstanding professor or researcher
  • Fall under a certain classification of executive or manager--and may already have an L-1 temporary visa

Applying for a green card with employer sponsorship can be time-consuming and expensive. If you're trying to get a green card while already employed in the U.S., it's worth consulting with an experienced immigration attorney to learn more about your options.

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