CALL US: +44 (0)20 8004 3492

Path to Green Card Through Employment

By Nita Nicole Upadhye

Table of Contents

Path to Green Card Through Employment

The path to a green card based on employment is rarely straight-forward. You will need to identify and apply under a specific category and compile robust and comprehensive supporting documentation to evidence your eligibility.


Why follow the path to Green Card?

With a US green card, or ‘permanent residence card’, you are granted authorization to live and work in the US on a permanent basis. This is not the same as holding US citizenship, but it does mean you can remain in the US indefinitely and will not be subject to immigration control when entering the country,

Green cards are valid for ten years. In most cases, after 5 years with lawful permanent residence, you can apply to naturalize as a US citizen. This is reduced to 3 years if you are married to a US citizen. Alternatively, to maintain your permanent residence status, you will need to apply to renew your green card.

One of the categories of green card is the employment-based card. Other categories include family, investment, refugee status and other special conditions.


Employment-based green card eligibility

Eligibility for an employment-based green card applies only where one of the following applies:

  • Green card through a job offer: You can make an application where you have a formal and official offer to work in the United States.
  • Green card through self-petition: Only available to exceptionally talented, distinguished individuals, or specific individuals who are granted a national interest waiver.
  • Green card through investment: You are starting up an enterprise that will create jobs for US resident workers in the US.
  • Special category green card: Available to workers in established special immigrant categories, including broadcasters, international employees and religious workers among others.


Types of employment-based green cards

Your green card application will have to be submitted under one of the following categories:


EB-1 first preference

At least one of the following must apply:

  • You have ‘extraordinary ability’ in science, the arts, education, athletics or business.
  • You are an ‘outstanding’ researcher or professor.
  • You are a multinational executive or manager who meets certain criteria.

This includes individuals with special abilities, distinguished academics, professors, researchers, and international executives.


EB-2 second preference

At least one of the following must apply:

  • You are a member of a profession that requires you to hold an advanced degree.
  • You have ‘exceptional ability’ in science, the arts or business.
  • You seek a national interest waiver.


EB-3 third preference

At least one of the following must apply:

  • You are a skilled worker. This means that your job requires a minimum of 2 years training or work experience.
  • You are a professional. This means that your job requires at least a US bachelors degree or a foreign equivalent, and you are a member of the profession.
  • You are an unskilled worker. This means that you will perform unskilled labour requiring less than 2 years training or experience. 


Fourth preference (EB-4)

The following special immigrants may be eligible for the fourth preference visa:

  • Religious Workers
  • Special Immigrant Juvenile
  • Broadcasters
  • G-4 International Organization or NATO-6 Employees and Their Family Members
  • International Employees of the U.S. Government Abroad
  • Armed Forces Members
  • Panama Canal Zone Employees
  • Certain Physicians
  • Afghan and Iraqi Translators
  • Afghan and Iraqi Nationals Who Have Provided Faith Service in Support of U.S. Operations


Fifth preference (EB-5)

Individuals who are eligible for the fifth preference visa include immigrant investors who are willing to invest between $500,000–$1,000,000 in a venture that creates at least ten new jobs for U.S. citizens or other lawful permanent residents.


Green Card Application Process

The process of applying for your green card will depend on the category you are applying under and where you are applying from. Applications made from within the US qualify are processed as an adjustment of status. Applications from outside the US are managed through consular processing.

For example, if you are outside the US and have received a job offer, your new employer (your ‘sponsor’) will complete form I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker), or you would do this if you qualify to apply on a self-petitioning basis.

This petition must then be approved before form Form I-485 (Application to Register Permanent Residence, or Adjust Status) can be filed for the green card.

If your priority date is current, you may file the I-485 and I-140 concurrently.

The final stages will involve submitting your biometric information and attending the Green Card interview before you will be given a decision.


Green Card Lottery

Under the Green Card Lottery program (also known as the diversity immigrant program), green cards are given to eligible applicants randomly selected through a lottery process.

To be eligible for the Green Card Lottery program, you must:

  • Be a national of a country with a low rate of immigration to the United States
  • Meet the education or work experience requirements – at least a high school education or two years of trade work experience.

To enter, you need to complete and send a form electronically through the U.S. Department of State’s website during the registration period. There is no cost to enter.


Need assistance?

NNU Immigration’s specialist US immigration attorneys can help if you need support with a Green Card applications, including advice on eligibility and the application process.

If you have a specific question or require support with your application, please contact us.

This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.


Founder & Principal Attorney Nita Nicole Upadhye is a recognized leader in the field of US business immigration law (AILA) and trusted adviser to large corporates through to SMEs, providing strategic immigration and global mobility advice to support employers with both US and UK operations to meet their workforce needs through corporate immigration.

Nita successfully acts for corporations and professionals, entrepreneurs, artists, actors, and athletes from across the globe, providing expert guidance on all aspects of US visa and nationality applications, and talent mobility to the USA.

Nita is an active public speaker, thought leader, immigration commentator, and immigration policy contributor and regularly hosts training sessions for employers and HR professionals

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.​

Need legal advice?

For specialist advice on your query, get in touch with our team of US immigration attorneys.

Share on social

For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.

For specialist advice on a US immigration or nationality matter for your business, contact our US immigration attorneys.