Basics About Obtaining a Green Card Through an Employer

A green card holder, also know as a permanent resident, is an individual who has been authorized to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. There are a number of ways to become a permanent resident, though the most common two are through an employer or family member in the United States.  This article is intended as a general overview of the main ways of obtaining a green card through employment.

Job Offer

In most employment-based petitions for a green card, the applicant will be required to have a permanent job offer and sponsorship from a U.S. employer. An employment-based application for a green card involves multiple steps and can take a significant period of time. For applications in which the U.S. employer must petition on behalf of the applicant, the employer is usually required to prove that the there is no American worker qualified, willing, and available to take the job. The labor certification process, commonly known as PERM, is the means by which employers certify that there is no qualified American worker qualified, willing and available to take the job. The first step in the PERM process is a prevailing wage request, followed by good faith recruitment by the employer. As a final step, the employer must file a PERM application using ETA Form 9089. If the PERM is approved, the employer may proceed with the application process by filing a USCIS Form I-140 on the applicant’s behalf. The additional steps in the application process vary depending on a number of factors including whether the applicant is currently living in or outside of the U.S.


Entrepreneurs or business investors applying for a green card must meet strict eligibility requirements and only 10,000 visas may be authorized per year. An applicant must invest at least $1,000,000 (or $500,000 in a high unemployment or rural area) and take an active role in that business. The investor’s spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 may also apply for green cards. Historically, this has been one of the most difficult and expensive categories in which to establish eligibility.


There are two categories of workers who do not need a job offer and may self-petition for a green card rather than being sponsored by an employer. The two categories are commonly referred to as the National Interest waiver (EB-2) and Extraordinary Ability (EB-1). In the National Interest Waiver category, applicants must show that they plan on working in an area of substantial intrinsic merit, the proposed impact of such work will be national in scope, and waiving the labor certification requirement would benefit the national interest of the United States. For the Extraordinary Ability category, applicants must be considered to be the very best in their fields and plan to continue their work in the U.S.  This category applies to a very select group of individuals, such as a Noble Prize winner.

Special Categories of Jobs

There are individuals who may be eligible to obtain a green card through special job categories. An example of some of these jobs includes; Armed Forces member, physician National Interest waiver, religious worker, or international organization employee just to name a few.

Consult an Attorney

If you are planning on applying for permanent residency, you should consult with a qualified immigration attorney. Contact our skilled Savannah immigration attorneys at 1Georgia Injury Lawyers, PLLC to discuss your options. We serve many areas, including Savannah and Macon.