Employment Based Green Card

The Employment-Based Green Card has three separate and distinct steps. The first step is with the Department of Labor (DOL), while steps two and three are filed with USCIS. Processing times vary, but generally, the first step takes the longest amount of time, with waiting periods for government approval taking up to more than six months. Here’s a quick breakdown of that process.

Step One: PERM

Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) is the electronic system for an employer to file an application for alien labor certification on behalf of a current or prospective employee directly with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This the first step of the Green Card process for foreign nationals seeking permanent residence through their employment.

The process is long and detailed, with several steps required to start up the case, including submitting filings with the Department of Labor, local state work authorities, and an online registration.

The first major process is testing the U.S. labor market in the area of intended employment. A couple of steps that you will encounter include:

1. The employer must obtain a prevailing wage determination from the Department of Labor. Employers will be required to pay one of the four-level wages found in the DOL system according to experience and specialty levels required by the occupation.

2. The employer must post a notice of job opportunity containing vital information related to the occupation for at least 10 consecutive business days.

3. The employer must place a job order with the State Workforce Agency (SWA) for a specific designated time, normally 30 days.

4. The employer must place two advertisements on two different Sundays in the newspaper of general circulation in the area of intended employment. Both ads must contain vital information specific to the occupation at hand.

5. Three additional recruitment steps for professional jobs are required which can consist of job search websites, trade or professional organizations, and job fairs to name a few.

As you can see, this process has many requirements and each requirement has a preparation phase, a filing phase, and response. This makes it very difficult to judge exactly how long it will take to get a case approved.

The Department of Labor also conducts audits of certain PERM applications according to internal criteria designed to identify questionable applications.  While some audits are random, if you require a foreign language interpreter, the case will normally be automatically audited.

Second Step: Immigrant Visa Petition Filing USCIS Form I-140

Once the Department of Labor certifies the PERM application, the employer must then file an immigrant visa petition (Form I-140) with the USCIS, along with evidence that the current or prospective employee possesses the required experience, education, or the combination thereof for the offered position.  In addition, the employer must demonstrate that they have the ability to pay the proffered wage.

Typically, this petition will require detailed documents to support the filing.  This is the point at which an employer will be called upon to present tax records and W-2 forms to show the wage and earnings.


Third Step: The Green Card USCIS Form I-485 or Consular process

This final step is the actual Green Card Application or Consular process.  Which means that you will be either filing an Adjustment of Status application within the United States or filing an Immigrant Visa application at a U.S. consulate abroad. Typically, you will need to consult your visa bulletin to know when you are eligible to file this step.

Green Card Portability

According to the regulations and the policy set forth in the AC11 memo, an employee may keep his or her Green Card application viable if he/she moves to a position similar to that set forth in the alien labor certification application (PERM), but only 180 days after Step 3 has been filed, provided that form I-140 is approved ( Step 2).  Only an experienced attorney’s office can handle this type of porting application, so please contact our office to discuss the intricacies associated with Green Card portability. We are experienced at handling these situations and can help smooth out any bumps along the way.