GREEN CARD – PERMANENT RESIDENCE
We can help!
Bromberg, Kohler Maya & Petre, PLLC has a long history of assisting clients in successfully becoming Residents (Green Card holders) of the United States. Our attorneys and support staff are capable of assisting you in all stages of the naturalization process, including:
- Helping you determine if and when you are eligible to file for naturalization.
- Assisting you with the accurate and thorough completion and submission of the proper forms.
- Documenting eligibility.
- Monitoring the progress of your application and its status with USCIS.
- Preparing you thoroughly for the interview.
- Accompanying you to your interview to provide legal support and ensure that the process runs smoothly.
- Assisting you in securing documentation for any eligible children.
Our firm assists individuals and companies or organizations in evaluating what immigration options may be available, based upon the needs of the business, the skills and training of the prospective employee, and the overall job market. It is extremely important to thoroughly and carefully document the qualifications, past accomplishments, and future duties of the prospective employee, make sure any advertisement complies with all requirements for PERM, and document the existence and activities of the business or institution. It is crucial to comply with all applicable requirements from the Departments of Labor, Homeland Security, and/or State, depending upon the specifics of the case. We carefully analyze each client’s situation, and review legal authorities to be able to provide knowledgeable guidance about the chances of success at each stage. If a desired path does not appear feasible, we can advise about alternatives. Once a business and/or individual has decided to pursue a particular category of visa, we thoroughly educate ourselves on the relevant specialty so as to build a compelling case. For special immigrants (EB4), we explain in detail and document the requirements of the petition and adjustment of status process. Due to our office’s location near the World Bank, we have helped hundreds of individuals obtain special immigrant visas as former G-4 visa holders. We have also been successful in obtaining approvals in the highly desirable EB1 category, which avoids the PERM process. We look forward to discussing your options with you.
There are several ways in which an individual may qualify for a “green card,” the document showing lawful permanent residence. The process by which an individual becomes a lawful permanent resident is called adjustment of status. Here are some answers to some of the basic questions you may have:
What is a lawful permanent resident (LPR)?
An LPR is an individual who is authorized to remain permanently in the U.S. LPRs can work in the U.S., is fully protected under U.S. laws, and can travel internationally. However, LPRs are not eligible to vote and can lose their status if they commit certain crimes or leave the U.S. for a long period. Please contact us for more information
How can I obtain LPR status?
In order to apply for LPR status you must have a basis of adjustment. This basis can be an immigrant petition, approved asylum status, or one of several other USCIS categories, including the diversity lottery and provisions for special immigrants. Our firm’s experience in adjustment cases includes (but is not limited to) the bases of adjustment listed to the left.
Cautions about applying for immigration benefits
We are delighted to help our clients apply for and obtain permanent residence and other benefits for which they qualify. However, applying for any immigration benefit invites government scrutiny. It is extremely important that you discuss the following with an attorney: how you entered the United States, whether you have ever been ordered removed (deported), and whether you have been charged with or convicted of any crime.
While my application is pending, can I travel and work?
In most cases applicants for adjustment of status are permitted to work legally in the U.S. and travel abroad (with some restrictions) while their application is pending.
Contact us for more information.
ASYLUM OR REFUGEE STATUS
If you have been physically present in the United States for at least one year after your asylum application has been approved or since you were admitted as a refugee, you may apply for LPR status. If you are a refugee it is mandatory that you apply promptly for adjustment of status. Adjustment of status is not mandatory for asylees, but it provides them increased rights and security.
Many grounds of inadmissibility do not apply to those adjusting status as asylees or refugees. Additionally, for those grounds of inadmissibility that do apply, the standards for a waiver are generally more generous than other types of waiver applications. During the adjustment of status process USCIS may re-examine the initial grounds of asylum or refugee status to make sure there are no indications of fraud or TRIG (terrorism related inadmissibility grounds) that were previously undetected. For these reasons it is important that an individual exercise caution in completing the application thoroughly and consistently with information previously provided. Our office has assisted many asylees and refugees in successfully obtaining permanent residence. Please contact us for more information on how we can assist you with this process.
If you do not currently live in the U.S. or are not otherwise eligible for adjustment of status, you may be apply for an immigrant visa through the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in the country where you live or lawfully reside if a relative or employer has filed an approved I-130 or I-140 petition for you or you have an approved I-360 visa petition or are eligible to immigrate through the Diversity Visa Lottery program. Those who receive an immigrant visa from a US consulate and enter the US on the visa are permanent residents and receive their green card shortly after entering.
Visa application forms and documents including identification, medical exams and criminal records clearances are necessary for all consulates. Procedures vary greatly by country. Our office regularly assists clients with submitting the forms and documents required and prepares them for the immigrant visa interview. Please contact us if you would like more information and assistance with consular processing.
DIVERSITY LOTTERY (DV) PROGRAM
The Diversity Lottery (DV) Program makes 55,000 immigrant visas available annually through a lottery for those from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. The Department of State holds the lottery every year, and randomly selects “winners” from all qualified entries. If you receive a visa through the Diversity Visa Lottery Program you will be authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. You will also be allowed to bring your spouse and any unmarried children under the age of 21 to the United States.
The eligibility requirements for the Diversity Immigrant Visa Program are as follows:
- Applicant must be a native of one of the qualifying countries.
- Applicant must have a high school education or its equivalent, defined as successful completion of a 12-year course of elementary and secondary education.
- If the applicant does not have a high school education, he or she may substitute two years of work experience, within the past five years, in an occupation requiring at least two years of training or experience.
Our office has experience assisting DV lottery winners on consular processing and applying for adjustment of status. If you have been selected for the DV lottery and would like help with the permanent residence application process, please contact us for more information.
EB-5 IMMIGRANT INVESTOR PROGRAM (Standard)
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was created by the US Government for the purpose of creating new jobs for U.S. workers by attracting investment of foreign capital into the U.S. economy. An individual who obtains an EB-5 visa receives conditional permanent resident status for a two-year period. After two years, if the conditions of the EB-5 program have been satisfied, the investor can apply to remove the conditions on the residency, thus becoming a lawful permanent resident of the United States.
In order to qualify for an EB-5 immigrant visa, the applicant must invest capital in a job-creating business. The amount of capital that must be invested is $ 1,000,000, unless the investment is made in a “targeted employment area” (a high unemployment or a rural area). If this exception applies, a minimum investment of $500,000 is required. It is essential that the commercial enterprise creates at least 10 full-time jobs (or 5 if the investment is in a targeted employment area).
EB-5 Regional Center Program
Immigrant investors have the option to apply for the EB-5 Regional Center Program, a pilot program within the EB-5 program. Generally, the eligibility conditions are the same as for the standard EB-5 program, but the investment is made in a new commercial enterprise located within a “regional center” that has already been established by a third party.
A regional center is defined as an economic entity that is involved with the promotion of economic growth, including improved productivity, increased domestic capital investment, increased export sales and job creation. In order to receive the designation of “regional center”, the economic unit must be pre-approved by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). By designating a “regional center”, the USCIS recognizes that the business plans are feasible and that jobs can be created directly or indirectly through the foreign investment.
By statute, these investor visas are limited annually to 7.1% of the worldwide level of employment-based immigration visas, with 3,000 set aside for targeted employment areas and another 3,000 for the regional center program. While the high investment amount and other requirements can put the visa out of reach for many, it remains a viable option for those seeking to enter the US with significant capital to invest.
Please note that our office does not directly handle EB-5 cases. As this is a highly-specialized area of employment-based immigration with high stakes given the amount of investment required, only a limited amount of immigration attorneys properly handle these cases. For our clients that wish to explore this option, we guide them to trusted colleagues that can assist with the process.
Employment-Based Green Cards
Every fiscal year (October 1st – September 30th), approximately 140,000 employment-based immigrant visas are issued to qualified applicants, allowing them to become lawful permanent residents. There are several categories of visas leading to employment-based green cards, some of which have substantial waiting lists. This is because many more people seek these visas than the number allotted. Certain categories, such as priority workers (EB1), special immigrants (EB4), and investors (EB5), rarely, if ever, have waiting lists. Other categories, such as “Other workers,” have backlogs that at times last for many years. The US State Department publishes a visa bulletin each month announcing the date of applications that are currently being processed, giving a general idea of the length of the backlog.
PERM and Filing a Petition
To be considered for most employment-based immigrant visas, the applicant’s prospective employer must first file a PERM application with the Department of Labor. As part of the PERM process, the employer must show that there is a bona fide job offer, that the employer has attempted to recruit US workers for the position and that the employer is paying the prevailing wage. After the PERM application has been approved, the employer then files an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for the appropriate employment-based preference category. (NOTE: EB1, EB4, and EB5 visas do not require PERMs.)
Employment First Preference (EB1): Priority Workers
A First Preference applicant must be the beneficiary of an approved Immigrant Petition for Foreign Worker, Form I-140, filed with USCIS. A PERM is not required for this class.
There are three sub-groups within this category:
Persons with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics. This type of immigration benefit is very restrictive and is only granted to individuals who have risen to the top of their field of expertise. Applicants must have extensive documentation showing sustained national or international acclaim and recognition in their fields of expertise.
Applicants must either show that they have obtained a major internationally recognized award (such as the Nobel Prize) or that they fulfill three out of the following ten regulatory criteria:
- Evidence of receipt of lesser recognized national or international prizes or awards in the field of expertise;
- Evidence of membership in professional associations which have exclusive membership selection criteria based on outstanding accomplishments;
- Published material about the applicant’s work in the field of expertise;
- Proof that the applicant has “judged” the work of others in his or her professional field;
- Evidence of innovative and significant contributions to the field;
- Evidence that the applicant has authored scholarly articles and these articles were published in major professional or trade publications;
- Evidence that applicant’s work has been displayed in reputable artistic exhibitions;
- Leading or critical role in reputable organizations;
- Evidence that the alien has commanded a higher salary than his peers; or
- Commercial success in the arts production.
A specific job offer is not needed, so long as the applicant plans to continue work in the field of demonstrated extraordinary ability. Such applicants can file their own Immigrant Petitions for Alien Worker, Form I-140, with the USCIS.
Outstanding professors and researchers
Outstanding professors and researchers with at least three years experience in teaching or research, who are recognized internationally. Applicants in this category must be coming to the U.S. or seeking to remain here to pursue tenure, tenure track teaching, or a comparable research position at a university or similar institution of higher education. A job offer and I-140 petition must be provided by the educational institution.
Multinational managers or executives
Multinational managers or executives who have been employed for at least one of the three preceding years by the overseas affiliate, parent, subsidiary, or branch of the U.S. employer. The applicant’s employment outside of the U.S. must have been in a managerial or executive capacity, and the applicant must be coming to work in a managerial or executive capacity. A job offer and I-140 must be provided by the U.S. business.
Employment Second Preference (EB-2): Professionals Holding Advanced Degrees and Persons of Exceptional Ability
A Second Preference applicant must generally have a PERM approved by the Department of Labor, as well as a job offer from a prospective employer who has filed Form I-140 on the applicant’s behalf. (Only if an applicant can demonstrate that an exemption is in the national interest can this requirement be waived).
There are two subgroups within this category:
- Professionals holding an advanced degree (A Master’s or doctoral degree) or a baccalaureate degree and at least five years progressive experience in the profession.
- Persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business. Exceptional ability means having a degree of expertise significantly above that ordinarily encountered in the sciences, arts, or business.
Employment Third Preference (EB3): Skilled Workers, Professionals, and “ Other Workers”
A Third Preference or an “other worker” applicant must have an approved Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, Form I-140, filed by the prospective employer. All such workers generally require PERMs approved by the Department of Labor. Furthermore, there is usually a substantial backlog in processing these cases, particularly those for “other workers.”
“Skilled workers” are those whose jobs require a minimum of 2 years training or work experience. “Professionals” are members of the professions whose jobs require at least a bachelors degree from a U.S. university or college or its foreign equivalent degree. “Other workers” are applicants capable of filling positions that require less than two years of training or experience. The work must not be temporary or seasonal for either EB3 or “other” workers.
Employment Fourth Preference (EB4): Certain Special Immigrants (G-4 visa holders)
There are special provisions for a variety of highly specific categories that fall under EB4. The most common is for long-term employees with “G-4” visas retiring from international organizations such as the World Bank, IMF, or UN, or spouses or children of such individuals. We regularly handle cases in this category, which rarely has a backlog. Religious workers may also qualify for special immigrant visas under this category. For a complete list of all “special immigrant” visas, click here.
Employment Fifth Preference (E5): Immigrant Investors
To qualify as an Immigrant Investor, a foreign citizen must invest between U.S. $500,000 and $1,000,000, depending on the unemployment rate in the geographical area, in a commercial enterprise in the United States. The investor must demonstrate that the investment creates or retains at least 10 full-time jobs for legal U.S. workers, not including the investor or the investor’s family. This may be done either through an individual investment or as part of a group investment in a regional center. This category generally has no backlog.
Contact us for more information.