Employment-Based Green Cards

Updated on April 4, 2024

At a Glance

  • An employment-based Green Card allows foreign nationals to live and work in the U.S. based on employment-related factors.
  • It is one of the most common ways to obtain permanent residency, with categories including priority workers, professionals with advanced degrees, skilled workers, special immigrants, and investors.
  • Each category has its own requirements and quota, and the application process involves submitting various forms and documents.
  • The processing time can vary from months to years, and costs and specific requirements may vary, so consulting an immigration attorney is recommended.

Are you searching for an opportunity to get a Green Card? Who is eligible for a Green Card and do people without immediate family members in the U.S. even stand a chance?

Have you heard of an employment based Green Card? You’ll be relieved to know that you can work towards getting this form of permanent residency. Below is some more information about employment-related permanent residency, what you’ll need and how you can get it.

What is an Employment Based Green Card?

An employment based Green Card gives a foreign national (someone born in a foreign country) the right and privilege to live and work in the U.S. It is called an “employment based” Green Card because people who fall specific categories are eligible for this Green Card based on employment-related factors. They have some form of knowledge, skill, or business in the U.S. which makes them valuable to the economy.

An employment based Green Card is one of the most common ways in which foreign nationals get permanent residency in the U.S. People either apply for it from abroad or they apply for an Adjustment of Status for example from an H1B visa to Green Card.

Remember, a Green Card is not a passport. You’ll need to keep the passport from your country of birth and renew it each time before it expires. A Green Card only helps you pass through a U.S. border as a permanent resident. You still need to show the passport from your country of birth.

A Green Card also allows you to work in the U.S. Keep in mind, however, if your application for permanent residency is still processing, you’ll need to have an Employment Authorization Document before you are able to work in the U.S.

Employment Based Green Card Categories

Green Cards aren’t handed out like candy. Only specific people are eligible for permanent residency based on employment-related reasons.

In fact, only 140,000 employment-related Green Cards may be issued every year. And only a yearly total of 9,800 people may immigrate from a specific country to the U.S. Let’s look at the 5 predominant categories eligible for an employment-based Green Card.

EB-1 Priority Workers

EB-1 priority workers have exceptional and extraordinary abilities in fields such as science, art, education, business, sports, or athletics. Professors and researchers are also included in this category. This category specifically focuses on providing eligibility to people who are internationally recognized for their contributions to their respective fields. Certain managers and executives from multinational corporations may also apply under this category for an employment based Green Card.

The EB-1 category receives a type of preference and that is why so many people apply for it. The requirements are strict and applicants are scrutinized to ensure they comply. As it is so popular, this category has a quota to regulate the number of people allowed to immigrate under it. Only 28.6% of the 140,000 yearly total (about 2,800 people) are allowed to get employment based Green Card in this category per year.

EB-2 Professionals With Advanced Degrees or Persons With Exceptional Ability

This category specifically caters for people with extraordinary or exceptional abilities who can benefit the nation in relation to educational or cultural related activities. People in the fields of science, art, and business are also included in this group. Learned professionals with five years work experience and advanced degrees can apply through this category. It also provides a way of application for physicians who intend to practice in underserved areas of the U.S.

Once again the popularity of this group calls for a stringent quota under which only 28.6% of the total 140,000 may get a Green Card through category EB-2.

EB-3 Skilled or Professional Workers

People who apply through the EB-3 category need a minimum of two years of training experience. It also includes people from abroad with an undergraduate degree or vocational training. The great thing about this category is that it also provides an opportunity for immigration for unskilled workers with sufficient experience in fields that aren’t that abundant in the U.S.

This category also has the same 28.6% quota allowing about 2,800 people per year to immigrate to the U.S. on an EB-3 visa. The requirements are less stringent and therefore get the most applications per year.

EB-4 Special Immigrants

This category predominantly tends to receive applications from religious workers who represent a nonprofit organization in the U.S., employees and former employees of the U.S. government from abroad, and people who were translators for the U.S. Armed Forces in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

7.1% of the total allowed employment based immigration may get a Green Card through EB-4. That means only 695 people from a country may immigrate to the U.S. per year through EB-4.

EB-5 Investors (Employment Creation)

This group of foreign nationals are all investors and entrepreneurs, have the intention to invest more than $1,000,000 into the U.S. economy and will create more than 10 new permanent jobs. In certain instances, the requirements may be lowered to an investment of $500,000 which will create 5 new full-time jobs.

This category also has a quota of 7.1% of the total 140,000 allowed per year. Only 695 people per country per year may immigrate to the U.S. through category EB-5.

Employment Based Green Card Required Documents

Every application is unique and yours is too. Consult an immigration attorney for the best possible advice regarding your application. You may need to provide specific documentation to help out your case.

But for now, here are the basic documents required for an employment based Green Card application:

  • Form I-485 – Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status.
  • Form I-797 – Approval or Receipt Notice (for the form I-140 filed on your behalf).Form I-485 Supplement J – To confirm that the job offered to as stated in your I-140 is bona fide offer and that you intend to accept it once your I-485 is approved.
  • Two passport-style photos – Of you (the beneficiary).
  • Copy of your Identification Document
  • Copy of your birth certificate
  • Copy of your passport page with non-immigrant visa (if applicable)
  • Copy of your passport page with admission or parole stamp issued by U.S. officer (if applicable)
  • Copy of every I-94 you have – Travel and departure records.
  • Proof that you’ve maintained lawful status since arriving in the U.S. (or that you are exempt)
  • Form I-864 – An affidavit of support from someone in the U.S.
  • Form I-693 – Medical examination report.
  • Certified police clearances – A history of your criminal record.
  • Form I-601 – Application for Waiver of Grounds of Inadmissibility (if applicable).
  • Form I-212 – Application for Permission to Reapply for Admission into the United States After Deportation or Removal (if applicable).
  • Documentation of past or present J-1 or J-2 nonimmigrant status (if applicable)
  • Form I-508 – Only for people holding nonimmigrant status A, G, or E.
  • Form I-566 – Interagency Record of Request only for people who have A, G, or NATO nonimmigrant status.
  • Form I-485 Supplement A – Adjustment of Status Under Section 245(i) (if applicable).
  • Filing Fees – Remember to pay your filing fees and to also keep receipts for future reference.

Employment Based Green Card Process – How to Apply

There are different ways you must file your employment based Green Card application depending on the category you are applying in. People filing from within the U.S. who are eligible for an employment based Green Card needs to submit their Form I-485 to Adjust Status without leaving the country. When a visa is available you may file your I-485 with your Form I-140, while it is still pending, or after it has been approved (and remains valid).

Cost of an Employment Based Green Card

Determining the cost of an employment based Green Card is tricky. Some people file on their own behalf whilst others are the beneficiaries and their employers file on their behalf. There is generally no filing fee involved with filing most of the paperwork required for a Green Card application. But your situation may be different.

For instance, PERM (Permanent Labor Certifications) processes may cost between $4,000 to $7,000. Though this is for your employer’s account, your employer may ask you to work for them for a specific period until they have recouped that investment into your career in the U.S. Once again, ask for the expert advice of an immigration attorney to determine the cost of your Green Card application.

Employment Based Green Card Processing Time

The processing time of your employment-based Green Card application depends on many factors like the category through which you are applying, the accuracy of the information you submitted, the processing speed of the USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services) and whether there is a visa available for you. This process can take anything from a few months to a few years.


People without immediate family members in the U.S. can possibly get an employment based Green Card. There are 5 categories of people who are eligible for an employment based Green Card. They need to comply with the requirements and submit the necessary paperwork. Make sure you work fast and accurate as there are only a limited amount of people allowed to immigrate to the U.S. per year. You can apply for your employment based Green Card today!

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Frank Gogol

I’m a firm believer that information is the key to financial freedom. On the Stilt Blog, I write about the complex topics — like finance, immigration, and technology — to help immigrants make the most of their lives in the U.S. Our content and brand have been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, VentureBeat, and more.

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