Employment and Investment Based Immigration


Professionals and investors have a wide range of options available to them to obtain U.S. permanent residence. Listed below are short summaries of each of the possible options and outcomes.


Green Card Through a Job Offer

If you want to apply for a green card based on the fact that you have a permanent employment opportunity in the United States, or if you are an employer that wants to sponsor someone for a green card based on permanent employment in the United States, you must go through the following processes.

Unless you are eligible to petition for yourself (see "Green Card through Self Petition" below), most employment petitions require a job offer and require that the employer petition for the worker. Most employers petition for an employee using Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. 

If you are living outside the United States, you can become a permanent resident through consular processing, which is when USCIS works with the Department of State to issue a visa on an approved Form I-140 petition when a visa is available. 

If you are living in the United States, you can become a permanent resident through adjustment of status. Once the I-140 is approved and a visa number is available, you can apply to become a permanent resident. 

In either situation, a number of documents and evidence are required to establish eligibility. 

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The following are types of situations which require a job offer:

Outstanding Professors and Researchers

To qualify for an EB-1 visa as an "outstanding professor or researcher" you must be a foreign national who:
  • Is recognized internationally as "outstanding" in a specific academic area
  • Possesses at least three years of experience in teaching or research in the academic area, and
  • Seeks to enter the U.S. for a:
    • tenured position (or tenure-track position) within a university or institution of higher education to teach in the academic area; or
    • comparable teaching position with a university or institution of higher education to conduct research in the area; or
    • comparable position to conduct research in the area with a department, division, or institute of a private employer, if the department, division or institute employs at least three persons full time in research activities and has achieved documented accomplishments in the academic field
Upon approval of your EB-1 visa, your spouse and children under 21 years of age may apply for immigrant visas. 

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Managers and Executives

To qualify for an EB-1 visa as a "multinational executive or manager" you must be a foreign national who:
  • Has been employed for at least one year by a firm or corporation or other legal entity or an affiliate or subsidiary thereof in the three years preceding the time of your EB-1 application; and
  • Seeks to enter the U.S. in order to continue to render services to the same employer or to a subsidiary or affiliate thereof in a capacity that is managerial or executive
Upon approval of your EB-1 visa, your spouse and children under 21 years of age may apply for immigrant visas. 

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PERM Employment Certification (EB2 and EB3)

Under immigration law, employers within the United States who wish to sponsor foreign workers for U.S. permanent residence must first meet minimum requirements to show a good-faith effort to recruit and consider applications from minimally qualified U.S. candidates for the specific positions sought to be certified. To become certified and thus qualify a selected foreign worker for permanent residence, the employer must attest that there are no qualified, able, willing and available U.S. workers to perform the job, and that the employment of a foreign worker will not adversely impact the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. 

This program is open to a wide range of positions and is especially useful to those qualifying as professionals for jobs requiring a bachelors degree or graduate degrees.

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Green Card Through Investment

Entrepreneurs (and their spouses and unmarried children under 21) who make an investment in a commercial enterprise in the United States and who plan to create or preserve ten permanent full time jobs for qualified United States workers, are eligible to apply for a green card (permanent residence). Up to 10,000 visas may be authorized each fiscal year for eligible entrepreneurs.

You must invest $1,000,000, or at least $500,000 in a targeted employment area (high unemployment or rural area). In return, USCIS may grant conditional permanent residence to the individual. 

You may be eligible to receive permanent residence based on investment if:
  • You have an approved immigrant petition
  • You are admissible to the United States
  • An immigrant visa is immediately available
If you are living outside the United States, you can become a permanent resident through consular processing, which is when the USCIS works with the Department of State to issue a visa.

If you are living in the United States, you can become a conditional permanent resident through adjustment of status. Once the petition is approved and a visa number is available, you can apply for conditional permanent residence.

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Green Card Through Self-Petition

In two classifications of immigrant workers, the workers are not required to have a job offer and may self-petition (the worker does not need an employer to sponsor them.) These categories include:
  • Individuals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics
  • Individuals who were granted a National Interest Waiver
Note: You may NOT self petition based on employment, if you are not in one of these two categories. For other employment based green cards, see the "Green Card Through a Job Offer" or "Green Card Through Investment" sections above.

If you are living outside the United States, you can become a permanent resident through consular processing, which is when the USCIS works with the Department of State to issue a visa on an approved petition.

If you are living inside the United States, you can become a permanent resident through adjustment of status. Once the petition is approved and a visa number is available, you can apply for a green card. 

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The following are types of situations in which you may self-petition:

Persons of Extraordinary Ability

Individuals of extraordinary ability are considered to be the best of the best in their field and it is an eligibility category that applies to very few individuals. Examples of who may be considered such an immigrant includes Nobel Prize winners, notable sports players, and others who have achieved great successes in their field. 

To be eligible, you must be a foreign national who:
  • Possesses "extraordinary ability" in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation
  • Seeks to enter the U.S. to continue work in the area of "extraordinary ability" and
  • Upon entry into the U.S. will substantially benefit prospectively the U.S.
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National Interest Waiver

The USCIS may waive the labor certification process if it is in the national interest. This is an attractive category because individuals may self-file without a U.S. employer. To demonstrate national interest, the petitioner must show that (a) s/he seeks employment in an area of "substantial intrinsic merit;" (b) the benefit to the U.S. will be national in scope; and (c) national interest would be adversely affected if labor certification were required.

The National Interest Waiver Green Card for foreign national physicians seeking permanent residency in the U.S. is on the basis of:
  • Medical service in a Health and Human Services Department (HHS)-designated underserved area; or
  • Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facility
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Green Card Through Special Categories of Jobs

You may be able to become a permanent resident (get a green card) through a special job category. These adjustment programs are limited to individuals who meet particular qualifications and/or apply during certain time frames. 

For more information on the following categories of workers, please contact our office:
  • Afghan/Iraqi Translator
  • Armed Forces Member
  • Broadcaster
  • International Organization Employee
  • Iraqi Who Assisted the U.S. Government
  • NATO-6 Nonimmigrant
  • Panama Canal Employee
  • Physician National Interest Waiver
  • Religious Worker
Note: Special immigrant classification requirements vary widely and some may require the employer to file a Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant. Most of these categories are Fourth Preference (EB-4 classifications of different designations) and are either foreign national religious workers or employees and former employees of the U.S. government or benefiting the United States government abroad. The term “special immigrant” is given in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to certain groups including many for employment-related activities.

For information on standard employment-based green cards, see the “Green Card Through a Job” section above. For information on other special categories that may lead to permanent residence, please contact our office.

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To determine the best course of action in your individual case, please contact our office to schedule a free consultation.