There are a number of different routes that allows an employer to
sponsor an individual for permanent residency in the U.S. In some
cases, a person who has excellent credentials may also sponsor him or herself
for permanent residency. An immigrant is a foreign national who
has been authorized to live and work permanently in the United States.
In general, there is a multi-step process to obtain permanent residency
The first step is to have knowledge of the various categories that
have been outlined by law that will lead to permanent residency.
You need to determine your eligibility for a particular classification.
Second, in most categories a U.S. employer needs to file an application
for alien employment certification with the labor department and show that
there is a lack of U.S. workers for the position. There are exceptions
to this rule – for example, if you are an alien of extraordinary ability,
an outstanding researcher or professional, a multinational manager or
executive, a qualified alien physician who will practice medicine in an
area that has been certified as underserved, or a person working in the
U.S. national interest.
Third, the USCIS (or BCIS) needs to approve an immigrant visa petition
or Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. In this step the employer
will need to prove to immigration that the employee qualifies for the
particular category and that he will act as the sponsor (or petitioner)
for the applicant (or beneficiary). In some instances, the employer
will need to show that he is able to financially provide for the salary
indicated. If the foreign national is obtaining permanent residency
through the labor certification route, then the I-140 may only be filed
after the labor certification has been certified. In some categories
such as the alien of extraordinary ability or a person who seeks an immigrant
visa under the national interest, an employer or sponsor is not necessarily
required for the I-140 step.
Fourth, the U.S. Department of State must give the applicant an immigrant
visa number. This is true even if the applicant is already in the
U.S. In the last couple of years, the visa numbers for employment-based
categories have not been oversubscribed. The State Department’s
visa bulletin will indicate if the numbers are current.
Fifth, if the applicant is in the U.S., he or she will apply an adjustment
of status application to become a permanent resident. Depending
on strategic considerations, he may choose instead to obtain an immigrant
visa by undergoing an interview at the U.S. consulate. If a person
is abroad, he will usually complete the process at the U.S. consulate.
The law allows for concurrent filing of an I-140 and I-485. Whether
or not you would chose this route depends on your individual situation.