How to Get an Employer Sponsored Visa
The United States immigration system has options for someone to get a visa and eventually a green card based on having a full-time job offer to work for a US employer. This process consists of three separate steps: the PERM labor certification process, filing the immigrant petition, and performing an adjustment of status or applying for an immigrant visa. These three steps are detailed below.
PERM Labor Certification Process
The employer must take multiple steps before going through the process of selecting and sponsoring a candidate for immigration to the United States. Primarily, they must prove that they have attempted to hire a U.S. worker for the position and been unable to find a suitable candidate. This may include, for example, utilizing recruiters to locate an employee and posting advertisements for the job on multiple platforms frequently used to hire workers in the US.
Additionally, the employer must identify what they would pay a U.S. worker for the same job. Immigration laws require that a foreign worker who is being sponsored must earn an equivalent amount to what a similarly qualified U.S. worker would make in that position. This is specifically done to discourage companies from offering lower wages to foreign workers and creating a market where people come to the United States and work for less than what a citizen of the U.S. would.
For this reason, U.S. companies must identify what the “prevailing wage” is for the job they are hiring, and show that they are able to pay it. This proof can be given in a number of different ways, including bank statements and tax documents, that show the company is able to pay the prevailing wage.
After the company goes through this process and performs sufficient recruitment to show that they were unable to find a suitable U.S. candidate, then they file the PERM application and must receive the stamp of approval from the United States Department of Labor in order to sponsor the foreign worker for a visa.
File The Immigrant Petition
Step two takes much less time on the company’s part than step one. Because step one involved a process of searching for job candidates, recruiting, and submitting proof of financial capacity, it can take a long time. Step two is to file the immigrant petition with USCIS.
The form required is the I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Workers and the prospective employer must file it, identifying the foreign worker and stating that they meet the experiential and educational requirements for the open position.
Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing
Step three in the process is to get the legal authorization for someone to live and work in the US. This occurs after approval of the I-140. The applicant either adjusts their status if they are already in the United States, or performs the process necessary to obtain an immigrant visa if they are outside the United States.
If someone already living in the U.S. does not have immigrant status, but they have another type of visa, they will need to adjust their status via Form I-485 to become a lawful permanent resident. To be eligible for the I-485, the applicant’s priority date must be current, and the applicant must be lawfully present in the US.
If someone is outside the United States when their priority date becomes current, then they will undergo the process for an immigrant visa, also called consular processing. The applicant would apply for an immigrant visa at their local consulate, and after completing a successful visa interview, they would get an immigrant visa stamped in their passport, allowing them to come to the United States and receive their green card shortly after arrival.
If someone in the United States has a priority date that is current, meaning an immigrant visa is available at that time based on the current visa bulletin, they can complete step two and step three of the process at the same time. In sum, they can file the I-140 and I-485 concurrently. However, concurrent filing is not available for those who are outside of the US and doing consular processing.
The process to get an employment based green card may take many years due to a number of factors, including the country of birth of the person who is applying for the visa and the current visa bulletin.
A U.S. employer can petition for a qualified worker’s green card if they have made a good-faith attempt to find a qualified U.S. worker for the position and have not been able to, they can prove that they will pay the prevailing wage to the foreign worker, they file the appropriate paperwork with the Department of Labor, and the candidate in question successfully completes their adjustment of status or consular processing.
My name is Michael Ashoori and I'm a U.S. immigration lawyer and the founder of Ashoori Law. As an immigration lawyer, I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States. If you have any questions, feel free to schedule a free consultation by clicking this link.
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Michael Ashoori, Esq.
President of Ashoori Law
I’m a U.S. immigration lawyer and I help families, professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs get visas, green cards, and citizenship to the United States.
Since starting my law firm, I’ve helped hundreds of people from all over the world with their immigration needs. I’m very passionate, hard-working, and committed to my clients.
Got a question? Send me an email.