Jewish Journal

Employment-based green cards

by Cedric M. Shen

June 8, 2011 | 4:31 pm

Foreign nationals who are working for a U.S. employer on a valid work visa may adjust their status to a permanent resident if the employer files an employment-based petition.  Employment-based petitions are divided into five categories:  EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4 and EB-5.  We will limit our discussion to EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 in this section.  EB-5 green cards were discussed in a previous entry.

The wait time for employment-based green card petitions are based on “priority dates.”  This is a method of cross-referencing a beneficiary’s country of birth and the employment-based category to determine whether a visa is currently available and, if not, how long the wait is.  Different countries have different priority dates.  An individual born in Canada seeking an employment-based green card is generally in a better position compared to citizens of other countries, such as China, India, Mexico or the Philippines.  This is because the priority dates for those born in Canada under an EB-1 and EB-2 visas are all “current.”  This means that a visa is available for them immediately and that their petitions will not be backlogged.  In fact, EB-3 is the only category that is backlogged for those born in Canada.


The EB-1 category is reserved for an exclusive group of people, and it likely will not apply to 99% of all applicants.  By definition, it applies to individuals of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, businesses or athletics; or outstanding professors or researchers.  Only those in the very top of their respective field, as demonstrated through sustained national or international acclaim, will qualify for this green card.  Unlike EB-2 and EB-3 green cards, the Canadian applicant does not need an employer to file a petition on his/her behalf.  So who are these individuals?  There is no restriction with respect to education or profession.  It can be anybody who is one of the very best at what they do: a Michelin-award winning chef, an Olympic medal-winning athlete, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, a Juno-award winning singer/songwriter, a published author, a renowned professor, or an Academy Award-winning actress.


The EB-2 category is reserved for individuals of exceptional ability in the arts, sciences or business; individuals with advanced degrees (M.D., J.D., LLM, Ph.D. etc.); and foreign doctors who will practice in an underserved area in the U.S.  Foreign nationals who qualify for an EB-2 green card must have an employer who is willing to file a petition on his/her behalf.


The EB-3 category is reserved for skilled workers with two years training and experience; professionals with bachelor’s degrees; and other “unskilled” workers.  As with the EB-2 green card, Foreign nationals who qualify for an EB-3 green card must have an employer who is willing to file a petition on his/her behalf.

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Cedric M. Shen is a Los Angeles-based immigration attorney experienced in helping foreign nationals enter the United States. His law practice focuses on employment-based green...

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