If you want to become a U.S. legal resident because you have a permanent employment opportunity in the United States, or if you are a United States employer that wants to sponsor someone for U.S. lawful permanent resident status based on permanent employment availability in the United States, you must go through the following multi-step process:

*** PLEASE NOTE: EB-1 Priority workers, including Aliens of Extraordinary Ability, Multinational Managers (including, aliens previously in L-1A status), and Outstanding Professors and Researchers, as well as qualified foreign Physicians who will practice medicine in an area of the United States which has been certified as underserved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are exempt from the Labor Certification process. ***


  • Second, USCIS must approve either an immigrant visa petition (Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker) of the US employer for the foreigner wishing to work permanently and immigrate to the United States or an immigrant visa self-petition of the foreigner eligible to pursue a green card on his/her own. However, if a Labor Certification is required, the US sponsor may file the I-140 Petition only after the Labor Certification is approved.


  • Third, in order to apply for an immigrant visa, the foreigner shall wait for his/her priority date which is established either by the date of filing a PERM application with the U.S. Labor Department or, if PERM process is not required, by the date of filing Form I-140 with the USCIS. You can check the status of a priority date in the Department of State's Visa Bulletin.


  • Forth, if the applicant is already in the United States, he or she may apply to adjust his/her non-immigrant status to permanent resident status after his/her priority date becomes available. If the applicant is outside the United States when his/her priority date becomes available, he or she will be notified and must complete the consular process at his or her local U.S. consulate office.

How to Apply

  •      If you are an employer wishing to sponsor for a foreign national to work in the United States on a permanent basis, or, if you are a foreigner of outstanding ability, or outstanding professor or researcher wishing to immigrate under EB-1 Immigrant category, you must file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. Filing requirements differ for each of the five employment-base immigrant categories.


     There are five categories for granting U.S. legal permanent residence to foreign nationals based on employment skills.

EB-1 Priority workers

  • Foreign nationals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics
  • Outstanding professors or researchers
  • Managers and executives subject to international transfer to work in the United States in managerial capacity

EB-2 Professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability

  • Foreign nationals of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business
  • Foreign nationals having advanced degree
  • Qualified alien physicians who will practice medicine in an area of the U.S. which is underserved
  • Foreign nationals seeking a national interest waiver of the Labor Certification because it is in the interest of the United States

EB-3 Skilled or professional workers

  • Foreign national professionals with bachelor's degrees (not qualifying for a higher preference category)
  • Foreign national skilled workers (minimum two years training and experience)
  • Foreign national unskilled workers

EB-4 Special Immigrants

  • Religious Workers
  • Broadcasters
  • Iraqi/Afghan Translators
  • Iraqis Who Have Assisted the United States
  • International Organization Employees
  • Physicians
  • Armed Forces Members
  • Panama Canal Zone Employees
  • Retired NATO-6 employees
  • Spouses and Children of Deceased NATO-6 employees


EB-5 Immigrant Investors

Who is eligible for EB-5 Immigrant Visas?

     The EB-5 category was created for foreign nationals who invest in a new commercial enterprise that will benefit the U.S. economy and create at least 10 full-time jobs. The investor shall be involved in the day-to-day management of the new business or directly manage it through formulating business policy – for example as a corporate officer or board member. Congress has set aside 10,000 immigrant visas per year for investors and their immediate relatives (which includes their spouses and unmarried children who are under 21 years of age).

The law requires an investor invested or be in the process of investing $1,000,000.00 or, $500,000.00 in Targeted Employment Areas.  An area qualifies as a Targeted Employment Area if it has unemployment of at least 150% of national average rate or if it is in a rural area.


You may be also eligible for an immigrant visa if you invest money in a Troubled Business. To qualify you must:

  • Invest in business that has existed for at least two years.
  • Invest in business that has incurred a net loss, based on generally accepted accounting principles, for the 12 to 24 month period before you filed the Form I-526 Immigrant Petition by an Alien Entrepreneur. 
  • The loss for the 12 to 24 month period must be at least equal to 20 percent of the business’s net worth before the loss.
  • Maintain the number of jobs at no less than the pre-investment level for a period of at least two years.
  • Be involved in the day-to-day management of the troubled business or directly manage it through formulating business policy.  For example as a corporate officer or board member.
  • The same investment requirements of the new commercial enterprise investment apply to a troubled business investment ($1,000,000 or $500,000 in targeted employment areas).

you may obtain an immigration visa if you invest money in a Regional Center Pilot Program

To qualify you must:

  • Invest at least $500,000 in a regional center affiliated with new commercial enterprise or troubled business. 
  • Create at least 10 new full-time indirect jobs either collaterally or as a result of capital investment in a commercial enterprise affiliated with a regional center
  • A Regional Center is defined as any economic unit, public or private, which is involved with the promotion of economic growth, improved regional productivity, job creation, and increased domestic capital investment.

What type of Green Card does an investor and members of his/her family get?

Initially, an investor and his/her family members will get a temporary conditional Green Card that will be valid for two years. 

     Within 90 days prior the expiration of the 2-year conditional Green Card, the investor must file a Form I-829 and supporting documentation with USCIS with accompanying filing and biometrics fees. Failure to file I-829 timely will result in termination of conditional permanent resident status and the investor and his/ her immediate relatives may be placed in removal proceedings in the immigration court.

After approval of I-829 petition, the investor and family members will get a permanent Green Card.  



     The Immigration and Nationality Act allows foreigners to immigrate in the United States based on relationship to a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident. Family-based immigration falls under two basic categories: unlimited (no immigrant visas quote) and limited (the certain number of visas quote per family-based immigrant category).


Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens (IR):

  • Spouse
  • Unmarried children under 21 of a U.S. citizen
  • Unmarried step-children under 21 of a U.S. citizen if the marriage registration between U.S. citizen and biological parent of step-children took place when said children were under 18
  • Parent of a U.S. citizen who is 21 or older
  • Widow(er) of a U.S. citizen.


First Family Preference Category (F1):

  • Unmarried sons and daughters of U.S. citizens, and their children, if any.

23,400 visas are allocated each year for F1 category.

Second Family Preference Category (F2):


  • Spouses
  • Children – unmarried and under the age of 21


  • Children – unmarried and over the age of 21

114,200 visas are allocated each year for F2 category.

At least 77% of all visas available for this category will go to the spouses and children under the age of 21 and the remainder will be allocated to unmarried children over the age of 21.

Family Third Preference (F3):

  • Married children of U.S. citizens and their spouses and children.

23,400 visas are allocated each year for F3 category.

Family Fourth Preference (F4):

  • Brothers and sisters of United States citizens, and their spouses and children, provided the U.S. citizen petitioners are at least 21 years of age.

65,000 visas are allocated each year for F4 category.

K-1 Fiancé(e) Visas

     The fiancé(e) K-1 nonimmigrant visa is for the foreign citizen fiancé(e) of a United States citizen. The K-1 visa permits the foreign citizen fiancé(e) to travel to the United States and marry his or her U.S. citizen sponsor within 90 days of arrival. The foreign national will then file a Form I-485 to apply for adjustment of status as to that of a lawful permanent resident. Unmarried, under the age of 21 children of K-1 visa applicants receive K-2 visas and may obtain a Green Card in the U.S. when their biological parent enters in the legal marriage with a US citizen step-parent.



The information contained herein does not establish an attorney-client relationship and does not constitute legal advice.  Prior results depend on a number of factors unique to each matter and do not guarantee a similar outcome.