Permanent Workers

What is a "Permanent Worker?" A permanent employee is someone who wants to move to the United States permanently to work and live here. It does not mean you must continue to work in the same job for the rest of your life. If you want a job in the U.S. but you also want to live in the U.S. this is the kind of visa you should try to get.

How do I qualify for a Permanent Employee visa?You must have the right combination of education, skills, and work experience to qualify for a permanent employee visa. The exact combination you need depends on what kind of permanent employee visa you want. Generally, the more education and work experience you have, the faster you will get your visa. Additionally, you must not have anything that keeps you from entering the United States, such as a serious criminal record. If you have a criminal record, please contact a competent immigration attorney for advice.

What are the different types of Permanent Worker visas and what do I need for each one?Permanent worker visas are in the “EB” category. There are five different possible visas:

  • EB-1 (“First Preference”): This visa is for people with extraordinary ability in the arts, athletics, sciences, business, or education. This includes outstanding researchers or professors, as well as multinational managers and executives.
  • EB-2 (“Second Preference”): This visa is for people whose jobs require advanced degrees. It is also for people with exceptional abilities in business, sciences, or the arts.
  • EB-3 (“Third Preference”): This visa is for skilled workers, professionals, and other workers. To see if your specific combination of education, skills, and work experience qualifies, please see this article or consult a licensed immigration attorney.
  • EB-4 (“Fourth Preference”): This visa is for “special immigrants.” “Special immigrants” are certain types of religious workers, retired employees of international organizations, any alien minors who is a ward of the court in the U.S., employees of United States foreign service posts, and other types of aliens.

How many people each year get a Permanent Employee visa? 14,000 people (and their spouses and children) can be admittedeach year on a permanent worker visa.

How do I apply for a Permanent Worker visa? If you are applying in First, Second, or Third Preference categories, your employer must file Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker. You must also file Form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. In most cases, these two forms may be filed together. If you are applying in the Fourth Preference category, you must file Forms I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant and I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. If you are applying in Fifth Preference, you must file Forms I-526, Petition for an Alien Entrepreneur and I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status. 90 days before your second anniversary as a Green Card holder you must file Form I-829, Petition by an Entrepreneur to Remove Conditions.

How long does it take to get a Permanent Worker visa?Right now it takes about 4 months to process form I-140, but due to USCIS backlog changes it could be faster or slower. An I-360 right now takes about 8 months to process and an I-526 takes about 5 months. Once you have an approved I-140, I-360, or I-526, your Form I-485 petition will be taken care of within a few months (generally about 6 months, although it depends on the USCIS office in your area)unless you are applying in the Second Preference from China or India, Third Preference, or in the category of "other workers." In that case, you must wait to file Form I-485 until your visa category is "current." Every month, USCIS releases a new Visa Bulletin and you must check to see if your application date has come up yet. Once it comes up, you should file immediately. Right now you will need to wait approximately 5-9 years.

What is a Labor Certification?For some EB visas, you need a job offer before you can apply. A Labor Certification is a form where your employer proves that there are not enough qualified, available, and willing American workers to take the job. It must also prove that your employer is going to pay at least the "prevailing wage," which is the average wage for that job in that area. Your employer will also need to prove that hiring a foreign worker won't lower the pay and working conditions for U.S. workers in similar jobs.

How do I get a Labor Certification? Your employer must file ETA-9089, Application for Permanent Employment Certification with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Your employer must also be able to prove all of the above requirements, which may mean your employer will have to advertise and do interviews of other people interested in the position. This whole process will take several months at least.

Do I need a Labor Certification for a Permanent Worker visa?Most of the time, if you are applying in the Second or Third Preference categories, you will need a Labor Certification. There are a few exceptions to this rule.

Can my spouse and children come with me to the United States if I come on a Permanent Worker visa?Yes, but they may need to apply for their own visas.

Do I have to pay taxes if I come to the U.S. on a Permanent Worker visa?Most likely yes. Almost everyone living in the U.S. must pay U.S. taxes, even if some of the work is done outside of the United States.

Where can I get Forms I-140, I-360, I-526, I-485, and I-829? You can download Forms I-140, I-360, I-526, I-485, and I-829 for FREE from our site! Some places will charge you $30 or more for these form, but we will let you download them so you will be able to keep them forever and use them again next time you need them.