Green Card Through Employment: A Comprehensive Guide

The United States is often seen as the land of opportunity, where individuals from all over the world come to pursue their dreams. For many, obtaining permanent residency in the United States through employment is the key to achieving the American Dream. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the different categories, step-by-step application process and documentation for obtaining a green card through employment.

What is Employment-Based Green Cards

Employment-based green cards are designed to allow foreign nationals with specialised skills or qualifications to live and work permanently in the United States. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has established several categories for employment-based immigration, each with its own set of eligibility criteria and application process.

Employment-Based Green Card Categories

There are five primary employment-based (EB) preference categories under which individuals can apply for a green card:

EB-1: Extraordinary Ability, Outstanding Professors and Researchers, Multinational Managers and Executives
The EB-1 category is for individuals with extraordinary ability, outstanding professors and researchers, or multinational managers and executives. This category is designed for those who have achieved national or international recognition in their field of expertise.

EB-2: Professionals with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability
The EB-2 category is for professionals with advanced degrees or exceptional ability in sciences, arts, or business. This category requires individuals to have a job offer from a U.S. employer and undergo a labor certification process.

EB-3: Skilled Workers, Professionals, or Other Workers
The EB-3 category is for skilled workers, professionals, or other workers. Skilled workers are those who have at least two years of job experience or training. Professionals are individuals with a bachelor's degree or its equivalent. Other workers are those in positions that require less than two years of training or experience.

EB-4: Certain Special Immigrants
The EB-4 category is for certain special immigrants, including religious workers, broadcasters, and certain employees of international organizations. This category is designed for individuals who have unique circumstances that make them eligible for permanent residency.

EB-5: Immigrant Investors
The EB-5 category is for investors who invest a certain amount in a new commercial enterprise that will create jobs for U.S. workers. This category requires individuals to make a substantial investment and create a specific number of jobs.

Process for Getting an Employment-Based Green Card

Obtaining an employment-based green card consists of four steps. The following are the steps you must take:

Step 1: Obtaining Labor Certification
DOL (Department of Labor) application (ETA-750) filing through your employer.

Step 2: Submit an I-140 Immigration Petition
Your employer submits an I-140 application to USCIS.

Step 3: Status Adjustment (I-485) OR Consular Processing
File Form I-485 and other supporting papers with USCIS for yourself and your family living in the United States.

You can also apply for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) and an AP (Advance Parole or Travel Document) at this time. After you file your I-485, you will be required to have your fingerprints taken.

Steps 2 and 3 can be filed jointly, as previously stated.
However, as a concurrent petition, I-485 cannot be accepted without I-I40 approval.


Attend a consular processing interview at a United States Consulate in your home country.

Step 4: Obtaining Your Green Card
Get your passport stamped and your physical green card.

Documentation Requirements

The employer sponsoring the green card is typically required to demonstrate financial stability by submitting tax returns and other financial documents. The employee must also provide various documents, including educational qualifications, employment letters, and identification documents, to support their application.

Document List For Employment-based Green Card

Here are the primary documents required for an employment-based green card petition (this may vary based on individual cases and should be vetted by an immigration lawyer before submitting):

  • Form I-485 – Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status
  • Form I-797 – Approval or Receipt Notice (received after submitting the Form I-140)
  • Two passport photos
  • Copy of your identification document (passport)
  • Copy of your birth certificate
  • Copy of every I-94 recorded under your name
  • Proof that you’ve maintained lawful status since arriving in the U.S. (or that you are exempt)
  • Form I-693 – medical examination report
  • Certified police clearances (from your home country)
  • Receipt of Filed Fees – All receipts have to be preserved
  • Documentation of past or present J-1 or J-2 nonimmigrant status (if applicable)
  • Form I-485 Supplement A – Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i) (if applicable).
  • Copy of your non-immigrant visa (if applicable)
  • Copy of parole stamp issued by U.S. officer (if applicable)

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

Obtaining an employment-based green card can be a highly competitive process with annual numerical limitations. This often leads to long waiting periods for visa numbers to become available. However, being well-prepared and understanding the specific requirements of each category can help applicants navigate this complexity and a qualified attorney or proper consultancy on side can help you make your case firm and successful. 

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