Permanent residency through an employer is one way of obtaining a green card. In most cases, the first step of the process is Labor Department. An employer must therefore file an application called PERM stating that there are no qualified workers in the area of intended employment. The purpose of PERM is to show that hiring an immigrant will not adversely affect the local labor market.
Once Department of Labor certifies our PERM it will be valid for 6 months. During this time period, the next stage of the process must be started (I-140). During this stage USCIS verifies work experience of the applicant and education background if applicable. In addition, USCIS will verify if the employer can actually afford to hire the sponsored immigrant.
NOTE: Filing of PERM or Form I-140 does not affect an immigration status of an immigrant and it is not a basis to apply for work authorization.
The last stage of the process is the green card application (I-485). During this stage, the immigrant receives Employment Authorization Document and Advance Parole, if applicable. Along with the application for green card, we must include, among others, medical examination and an additional fee of $1,000 if applying under section 245(i).
Why are the waiting times for my green card?
Immigration law divides employment based petitions into different categories and each category has an annual limit of green cards which can be issued during any fiscal year. The more applicants apply in a given category the longer the wait. The order in which green cards are issued is determined by the Visa Bulletin published monthly by the Department of State.
Every month US Department of States publishes a Visa Bulletin which sets cutoff dates for preference categories. Those cut off dates are the Priority Dates that each sponsored immigrant has. Priority Date is a date when our sponsorship started. USCIS issues green cards based on the Visa Bulletin and the Priority Dates.
Our place in the waiting line for our green card is called Priority Date. Priority Date is the date when we had our sponsorship started. USCIS can only issue green cards to those whose Priority Date is before the cutoff date listed in the Visa Bulletin.
The above information is not legal advice. In order to obtain legal advice, please contact immigration attorney Marcin Muszynski.