Steps for Employment-based Greencard Sponsorship
Below is a brief overview of the various steps necessary to “sponsor” a foreign worker for Permanent Resident status in the United States (also known as a “greencard”).
Application for Alien Employment Certification (“Labor Certification”):
This application is filed with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and is governed by a large body of detailed and specific regulations. It is the first formal filing in the greencard process and the most important, as it forms the very basis of the beneficiary’s eligibility for a greencard.
Once the pre-filing recruitment is complete and properly documented, the Labor Certification application is filed online on the DOL’s website.
DOL will certify (approve) the application, or audit the case (review the recruitment, etc.).
Filing of Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (I-140):
After the Labor Certification is certified and returned by the DOL, the next step which must occur is the filing of a Form I-140 Immigrant Petition with the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship & Immigration Services (CIS). Through this petition, the sponsor will formally request permission from the CIS to employ the beneficiary, on a more long-term basis, in the specific position listed in the Labor Certification.
The I-140 petition requires supporting evidence to establish two primary facts. First, the sponsor must be able to show that the beneficiary possesses the minimum qualifications for the position, as described on the Labor Certification application. Secondly, the sponsor must document that it has the financial capacity to pay the salary offered on the application.
Adjustment of Status to Permanent Residence (I-485) or Immigrant Visa Abroad:
Approval of the I-140 petition essentially means that the beneficiary has been approved to request a greencard from the CIS, based upon the employment-based sponsorship. In order to collect on this employer sponsorship approval, a final application must be filed by the beneficiary (and family members, if applicable). Depending on the beneficiary’s immigration history, this can be done either through the mail at the CIS Regional Service Center nearest their home, or in person at the U.S. Embassy in their native country. The only direct involvement by the sponsor at this stage will be a final letter to the CIS confirming that the long-term job opportunity described on both the Labor Certification application and the I-140 petition continues to remain open and available to the beneficiary.
The date that this petition can be filed will vary, depending on the immigrant visa backlog. The priority date that is listed on the approved I-140 must be current in order to file the adjustment of status petition. For current visa dates and more information, please click on the “Visa Bulletin Priority Dates” link go to our Visa Dates page.
While the adjustment of status petition is pending, the beneficiary should be allowed to continue to work (and travel abroad, if needed).