Under immigration law, the green card job is deemed to be a job in the future i.e. the job is made available to foreign worker upon approval of green card. Since the green card job is one in the future, salary, title, job duties etc. commences only upon approval of green card.  

The green card process involves three stages :-

  1. Labor Certification
  2. Filing of Alien Immigrant Worker Petition (Form I-140)
  3. Filing Adjustment of Status (AOS) or Immigrant Visa Processing at a US Consulate abroad (Consular processing)

Program Review Electronic Management (PERM) process or the labor certification is a process undertaken by the employer by filing an application (ETA Form 9089) with the US Department of Labor (DOL) after it has tested the US labor market, and has found that there are no qualified US workers for the job offered in the area of intended employment. The DOL must certify to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that there are not sufficient U.S. workers able, willing, qualified and available to accept the job opportunity in the area of intended employment and that employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The certification issued by DOL will allow the employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the United States.

An I-140 is used to petition USCIS for an immigrant visa based on employment. A U.S. employer may file this petition for an outstanding researcher/professor, alien on L1A visa employed primarily in managerial or executive capacity, member of professions holding an advanced degree or an alien with exceptional ability in science, art or business who will benefit the U.S., a skilled worker, member of professions with a baccalaureate degree, and an unskilled worker.  In addition, an employer, person or third party may file I-140 including the alien beneficiary of the petition if the petition is filed for an alien of extraordinary ability demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements are recognized in the field.  Similarly, a member of professions holding an advanced degree or is claiming exceptional ability in science, art or business, and is seeking an exemption of job offer requirements in the national interest (“National Interest Waiver – NIW”).

Where a labor certification (ETA Form 9089) is involved, I-140 petition is filed with USCIS within 180 days from the date DOL certifies the ETA Form 9089. USCIS reviews this petition and supporting documentation submitted by employer to find out whether the beneficiary qualifies for the job by meeting the job requirements stated in certified ETA 9089. The employer has to show that it has the ability to pay the offered wage from the date of filing Form ETA 9089 (priority date) until the foreign worker receives permanent residency. The employer must indicate in the petition whether the foreign worker would adjust status in United States or obtain the immigrant visa abroad by appearing at a US Consulate abroad (consular processing).

The filing of I-485 depends on priority date and country of birth of the applicant as well as the category under which the alien immigrant petition has been approved. The priority date (PD) must be current for the AOS to be filed. If in an immigrant petition, consular processing was opted then the petition is sent to National Visa Center (NVC) by USCIS upon approval of immigrant petition. Once priority date is current, NVC sends visa fee bill instructions and applications to be filled and filed with it. Once the forms and required documents are submitted to NVC, it reviews it. The entire application including immigrant petition is then sent to the US consulate for the applicant to appear for the immigrant visa interview. The approval of I-485 or issuance of immigrant visa confers permanent residency for the applicant.

After the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) approve an immigrant visa petition, USCIS forwards it to the National Visa Center (NVC) in Portsmouth, NH for immigrant visa pre-processing at the correct time. Immediate relative categories do not have yearly numerical limits. However, family preference and employment immigrant categories have numerical limits each year; and therefore, wait times are involved, which can be lengthy, for processing to commence.

The processing depends on the PD. If the PD is earlier than the Qualifying Date (QD) for the individual’s visa class and his or her foreign state chargeability, his or her PD meets the most recent QD. The petition is then is ready to begin processing at the NVC. The NVC will invoice for visa application fees. Upon receiving the fees, it collects the visa application and supporting documentation from the applicant. It then holds the visa petition until an interview can be scheduled with a consular officer at a U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulate General abroad.

If a PD does not meet the most recent QD, NVC will notify applicant and hold the petition until the PD meets the most recent QD. The Department of State updates the QD on a monthly basis which can be viewed under the Visa Bulletin.

Federal law requires every employer and agricultural recruiter/referrer-for-a-fee hiring an individual for employment in the United States to verify his or her identity and employment authorization through completion of Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification.

All U.S. employers must complete and retain a Form I-9 for each individual they hire for employment in the United States. This includes citizens and noncitizens. On the form, the employer must examine the employment eligibility and identity document(s) an employee presents to determine whether the document(s) reasonably appear to be genuine and relate to the individual and record the document information on the Form I-9. The list of acceptable documents is provided under Form I-9. Employers must retain Form I-9 for a designated period and make it available for inspection by authorized government officers from the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Labor, or Department of Justice.

Employers must have a completed Form I-9 on file for each person on their payroll who is required to complete the form. Form I-9 must be retained and stored by the employer either for three years after the date of hire or for one year after employment is terminated, whichever is later.

E-Verify is an Internet-based system that allows businesses to determine the eligibility of their employees to work in the United States. It compares information from an employee’s Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, to the data from U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Social Security Administration records to confirm employment eligibility.

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