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How to Obtain Permanent Residency in the US

September 25, 2018

Immigration to the United States is a permanent solution – you are choosing to relocate yourself and possibly your family to the United States as a permanent resident. By definition, a permanent resident is a person who resides legally in the United States permanently. By the law, a permanent resident is someone who legally spends a majority of his time in The US and who has created a substantial nexus to the United States. Ultimately, permanent residency for five years qualifies you to become a US citizen.

Very Few Avenues to a Green Card

There are only a few independent ways to become a US permanent resident. What do I mean by independent? Immigrating to the United States, which is by definition obtaining permanent residency (also known as a green card) without the assistance of a spouse or family member who is already a permanent resident or citizen of the US is very difficult. There are limited options. These options include the Green Card lottery and Employment Based Migration.

Not knowing or understanding much about the Green Card Lottery, I will focus on Employment Based Immigration or what is more commonly called EB Immigration. The following very briefly outlines the various EB Immigration category and general states who qualifies to apply:

  1. EB1, also referred to as the First Preference of Employment Based Immigration is for foreign nationals with Extraordinary Abilities. It is colloquially referred to as permanent residency for the 3 M’s: Michael Jordan, Michaelangelo and Michael Jackson. Foreign Nationals who have exhibited exceptional academic, professional or artistic ability qualify for EB1.
  2. EB2, also known as the Second Preference of Employment Based Immigration is for foreign nationals with exceptional abilities. It is permanent residency for people who have demonstrated exceptional abilities in the arts, sciences and businesses. Most EB2 candidates are business professional at the highest level of business, such as CEOs of large international companies.
  3. EB3, also known as the Third Preference of Employment Based Immigration is for foreign nationals who are unskilled or skilled workers who are Sponsored by a US business that can demonstrate a need for foreign. EB3 is the legal way for US companies to recruit and hire foreign workers, but it requires a US business to sponsor the immigrant only if the US business can prove that it cannot find a US worker to fill the job for which the immigrant is being sponsored.
  4. EB4, also known as the Fourth Preference of Employment Based Immigration is for foreign nationals who are special and is usually reserved for religious leaders, translators from certain middle eastern countries and reporters.
  5. EB5, also known as the Fifth Preference of Employment Based Immigration is for foreign investor willing to invest up to 1 million dollars in a new commercial enterprise that creates at least 10 US jobs. Under a particular set of circumstances, the investment can be as little as $500,000 as long as the investment is made in a new commercial enterprise located in a targeted employment area. EB5 is probably the most common EB immigration program in the United States, but is used primarily by wealthy foreign nationals.

EB3 Works for Most Everyone

For the average foreign national interested in permanently migrating to the United States, EB3 is the only independent way to receive a green card in the United States. The difficulty is finding a US company willing to sponsor the foreign nation who can also prove it cannot find US workers for the job being sponsored.

In the US, there is a general labor shortage for almost all low paying, labor intensive jobs. Some industries that commonly have labor shortages are meat processing facilities, such as poultry and pork processing plants. In addition, cleaning and janitorial companies often have severe labor shortages. Nursing, healthcare and trucking also tend to have persistent labor shortages in the current US labor market. Most of these jobs have traditionally been staffed by illegal immigrant labor.

The US government imposes severe penalties on companies that hire illegal immigrant labor. Therefore, US businesses suffering from chronic labor shortages that cannot find US workers to fill their job openings must use the EB3 Immigration Preference to hire foreign nationals.

Almost any foreign national qualifies for EB3 Sponsorship, as long as they meet general immigration requirements, which include a clean criminal background, no connections to terrorism and a clear financial track record. However, there are a few countries from which EB3 sponsorship can be very difficult as a result of backlogs created by the US immigrant quota system. In general, the quota system limits the number of immigrants that can come into the United States each year. Countries that regularly exceed the quota allocation are India, Philippines and China. If you are from a country that regularly exceeds the quota, you will need to consult an immigration attorney to determine the viability of pursuing EB3.