The United States long has been known as the land of opportunity. People often travel to America to obtain reliable employment and to secure a permanent work position. However, a non-citizen must obtain employment-based permanent resident status to work permanently in the country.
When an employer is attempting to hire someone who is not a U.S. resident, in order for that person to assume a long-term position, he or she must become a lawful permanent resident. In these cases, employers may be able to sponsor employees who are seeking residence.
A person who is attempting to become a U.S. citizen or to obtain a green card would be placed in a priority group. These groups are organized by the qualifications required for the job and by the qualifications of the employees themselves. This process still can be lengthy.
People are ranked into five different priority groups: priority workers; professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability; skilled workers, professionals and unskilled workers; certain special immigrants; and investors.
Priority workers are the highest-ranking of the groups. These workers generally would include those with “extraordinary ability” in arts, sciences, business or athletics. Additionally, it could include professors and researchers, along with the managers and executives of international companies in the U.S.
Certain professionals could fall into the second-highest ranking priority group. People with advanced degrees higher than a baccalaureate degree or those with a baccalaureate degree and five years of related experience could be considered in the second-tier priority.
In these cases, the term “exceptional ability” means proven ability in sciences, arts or business that is above ordinary. People who qualify to be in this priority group also could seek to petition based on a National Interest Waiver or under Schedule A Group II.
Non-citizens with jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree and less than five years of experience could fall into the third priority group. This also could include positions requiring some experience but no degree, and jobs not in the other four categories.
The fourth category is unique because it applies to a specific set of immigrants. This group includes certain specific types of workers, including broadcasters, religious ministers and people who have worked with the U.S. government in certain capacities.
The fifth priority group, investors, also is different because it applies to a very distinct type of person. To qualify for this category, an immigrant or a non-citizen must be investing at least $1 million or $500,000 in a Targeted Employment Area, an area with high unemployment or a rural area.
The wait time a person would face could depend on which group he or she would fall into and what country the person is from because a certain amount of visas are allocated to each. For instance, a person who has been categorized in the highest priority group likely would not wait as long as someone who has been placed in the third priority group.
Some visas, including those in the first, fourth and fifth categories, are available without a waiting list. However, in some instances, a person could wait more than a decade for an employment-based permanent resident status. A skilled immigration attorney can make a difference in your process.