Green Card through the Workplace

Apart from immigration based on family reunification, people with employment-based Green Cards form another large group of immigrants. A total of 140,000 visa are available for this Green Card category per year. Learn more about all the job-based categories and its requirements in the following!

How do I get an employment-based Green Card?

For the employment-based Green Card categories there is an annual limited quota of 140,000 immigration visas. Since the applicants bring along very different professional qualifications, the Green Card categories are divided into five different sub-categories.

GREEN CARD CATEGORY

PERCENTAGE SHARE

EB-1: Priority Workers 28,6%
EB-2: Persons with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability 28,6%
EB-3: Skilled Workers, Professionals and other Workers 28,6% (including a maximum of 5,000 Green Cards for "other workers")
EB-4: Special Immigrants and Religious Workers 7,1%
EB-5: Investors  7,1%

It is important to note that some categories require a job offer in the USA at the time of application. However, not just any job offer will suffice, it must be specifically verified through the process of a so-called Labor Certification.

There is no need to apply for a Green Card for a temporary work assignment in the USA. A US work visa is sufficient here.

Image of Job based Green Card

It is possible to get a Green Card through a job in the US under certain conditions.


What is Labor Certification?

For the employment-based Green Cards of the category EB-2 and EB-3 a so-called Labor Certification, i.e. a national labor market test, must be carried out. This is a test to determine whether a US citizen or an already resident Green Card holder could do the intended work in an equivalent manner.

Unlike family-based Green Cards, job-based Green Cards only require proof of a financial sponsor, the so-called Affidavit of Support, in exceptional cases.

EB-1 Green Card: Priority Workers

The EB-1 Green Card is designed for highly qualified professionals, i.e. priority workers, from all over the world who are of high national interest to the USA. These individuals qualify through exceptional skills in the fields of science, business, education, the arts or sports.

This category does not require a national labor market review for application. It is divided into the following subcategories:

  • EB-1A: Individuals with extraordinary abilities
  • EB-1B: Outstanding university professors & researchers
  • EB-1C: Senior executives & multinational managers

EB-1A: Persons with extraordinary abilities

Individuals with extraordinary abilities can apply for this visa. This means that the applicant must have outstanding achievements in the fields of science, business, education, art or sports.

Image of Green Card through sporting skills

If you have exceptional sports skills, for instance, you may be eligible for a Green Card.


Only a certain number of EB-1A Green Cards are issued each year. The remaining qualified applications are put on a waiting list. Since there are usually not many applications received, the waiting times are usually relatively short.

EB-1A Green Card requirements

There are two ways to meet the requirements for the EB-1A Green Card:

  1. proof of having been awarded an internationally important distinction, such as the Pulitzer Prize, an Olympic gold medal or the Nobel Prize

    or
  2. the fulfilment of at least three of the following ten criteria:
    • a nationally or internationally recognized award for outstanding achievement in one of the above-mentioned fields
    • membership of an association that requires outstanding performance in a specific field as a condition of admission
    • publications about the applicant in well-known or professional journals, trade publications or other publications with large numbers of readers
    • jurorship in the assessment of the work of other experts in the same professional field
    • independent contributions of exceptional importance in the relevant field
    • authorship of outstanding contributions in trade journals, trade publications or other publications with a large number of readers
    • the presentation of their own work at art exhibitions or public performances
    • leading or decisive contributions to organisations with an excellent reputation
    • above-average remuneration compared to other people in the same field
    • commercial success in the performing arts, which can be proven by ticket or media sales.

In addition, the applicant must either submit a specific job offer in the United States or otherwise demonstrate that he or she wishes to work in the same field in the United States. Such evidence may include, for example, contractual obligations or a detailed statement by the applicant on how he or she wishes to continue their current employment in the USA.

EB-1A Green Card application

To apply for the EB-1A Green Card, the applicant must first submit a petition using Form I-140. While in the other employment-based Green Card categories the future employer has to take over this task, in this visa the applicant himself acts as his own sponsor. He is therefore a so-called self-petitioner.

Once the petition is approved, the immigrant visa can be applied for at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

EB-1B: Outstanding university professors and researchers

This subcategory of workplace-based Green Cards is aimed at university teachers and researchers with special academic skills. This group of individuals with a high national interest may not be self-employed, but must have a job offer in the United States.

Image of Green Card for researchers

EB-1B Green Card requirements

1) the applicant must be either a university teacher or a researcher whose achievements in his academic field are internationally recognized.

This shall be demonstrated by meeting at least two of the following six criteria:

  • the applicant has received important prizes or awards for achievements in his or her academic field
  • he/she is a member of associations which require outstanding achievements as admission requirements
  • articles on the applicant's work have been published in specialist publications
  • jury activity to evaluate the work of other persons in the relevant field
  • own scientific contributions in the corresponding academic field
  • preparation of articles in specialist journals or books published internationally

2) the applicant must be able to provide evidence of at least three years' teaching or research activity in his academic field.

3) the vacancy to be proven must be a permanent position which has been granted "for life" or which is equivalent to a permanent employment relationship.

4) the job offer must come from a US university, college or institute. Private employers will only be approved if they employ at least three researchers on full-time contracts and can demonstrate exceptional academic performance.

EB-1B Green Card application

In order to be classified as an outstanding university professor or researcher, an educational or research institution must submit Form I-140.

In addition, the prospective employer must prove that it is able to pay the applicant the salary offered, for example by submitting copies of annual reports.

EB-1C: Senior executives & multinational managers

This category of Priority Workers is aimed at managers and executives who want to emigrate to the USA.

EB-1C Green Card Requirements

With the EB-1C immigrant visa, not only the applicant but also the future employer must meet certain requirements.

Criteria for the applicant:

  • The applicant must have been employed by the company outside the USA for at least one year within the last three years.
  • He or she must hold an executive or managerial position in the company outside the US and must also be employed there as an executive or managerial employee.

Image of Green Card for executives

Criteria for the employer:

  • The US company must have been in business for at least one year.
  • Furthermore, it must be a separate legal entity and be linked to the foreign employer by a business relationship, e.g. a branch or subsidiary.

EB-1C Green Card Application

Applicants for the EB-1C Green Card are necessarily dependent on a job offer from the company in the USA. The American employer must complete Form I-140 and submit it together with evidence of the above requirements.

In addition, the company's business relationship in the USA and abroad must be made clear. The applicant's current and future responsibilities must be listed and information regarding the applicant's employment contract and professional qualifications must be provided.

EB-2 Green Card: Persons with Advanced Degrees or Exceptional Ability

The EB-2 immigrant visa is aimed at two groups of people:

  1. Individuals with a higher level of education and
  2. individuals with special skills in science, business or the arts.

Different conditions apply depending on which of the two sub-categories one wishes to apply in.

EB-2 Green Card Requirements

  • first subcategory: proof of a degree that is higher than the US Bachelor's degree, e.g. Master's or Doctorate - alternatively, five years of relevant work experience may be sufficient
  • second subcategory: skills that are well above the average in the field of work and thus have received national recognition - exceptions are the fields of sports and education
  • both categories require Labor Certification
  • future employer must prove that he will pay at least 100% of the salary normally paid for a comparable position - standard wage is determined by a Prevailing Wage Request to a local US employment agency

EB-2 Green Card Application

First, the academic degrees should be tested for equivalence or superiority to a US American Bachelor's degree. Then the future employer must make a Prevailing Wage Request to determine the usual wage. Afterwards, they must advertise the position publicly in at least two newspapers and at the US Federal Employment Agency.

Interviews must be conducted with qualified applicants and then it must be proven why they are not eligible for the position. In this case a Labor Certification Application can be submitted to the US Department of Labor. Petition I-140 can then be submitted to the Immigration Department.

EB-3 Green Card: Skilled Workers, Professionals and other Workers

Those who do not have a university degree such as a Master's or PhD or exceptional skills and therefore do not qualify for an EB-1 or EB-2 Green Card may be eligible for the EB-3 Green Card. This category is primarily aimed at academics, qualified professionals and other employees.

Image of Green Card for professionals

Due to the large number of applications in this category, there are often long waiting times for processing.

EB-3 Green Card Requirements

  • Academics, i.e. professional workers, must have a degree that is equivalent to the US Bachelor's degree. This degree must also be a prerequisite for future employment in the USA.
  • Skilled workers must have at least two years of work experience. This experience must also be required for the future workplace in the USA.
  • Other workers, i.e. unskilled workers, must have the education or work experience required by the future job. The job must also be permanent and not involve seasonal work.
  • The employer must provide laboratory certification to prove that they have not been able to find a US citizen or other Green Card holder for the position to be filled.
  • Again, the employer must pay the applicant at least 100% of the salary that would be paid for a comparable position.

EB-3 Green Card Application

The application for the EB-3 Green Card comprises the same steps as the application for an EB-2 Green Card:

The US employer has the usual salary determined by a Prevailing Wage Request. Subsequently, he publicly announces the position and has to interview qualified applicants. If the position cannot be filled, a Labor Certification Application can be submitted. This is followed by the I-140 petition.

EB-4 Green Card: Special Immigrants & Religious Workers

The EB-4 Green Card for the USA is aimed at a relatively small but very heterogeneous group of people who are granted the possibility of immigration by the US government for political or moral reasons. These include, for example:

  • former employees of the Panama Canal Company
  • employees of the American government employed abroad
  • employees of churches and religious communities.

Since Special Immigrants are very few in number, only Religious Workers will be discussed below.

EB-4 Green Card Requirements

  • As a rule, a Bachelor's degree or equivalent is expected.
  • Relevant professional experience in the learned religious profession is also required. For example, the applicant must have fulfilled spiritual duties in a foreign church organisation at least in the last two years.
  • After immigration, the applicant must work in a similar field of work in the USA as in the past.
  • Possible positions are as follows: Spiritual/Pastor, Spiritual Academics, Spiritual Professions and Spiritual Vocations, such as nuns or monks.

Specificity:

Labor Certification is not necessary when applying for the EB-4 visa.

EB-4 Green Card Application

First, the American religious community must file the application for the employee with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) using Form I-360. Among other things, it must be proven that the religious community is not making a profit.

In addition, it must be submitted how the applicant is to be paid, his or her professional experience and which of the above-mentioned professional groups he or she falls into.

EB-5 Green Card: Immigrant Investors

If an applicant wants to set up a business in the USA, he or she does not need an employer, but can apply for an EB-5 Green Card, also known as an Investors Green Card.

Image of Green Card for investors

EB-5 Green Card Requirements

  • A minimum of USD 1,800,000 must be invested. If the investment is made in a rural area or a region with a high unemployment rate, USD 900,000 may be sufficient.
  • At least ten full-time jobs must be created or maintained.
  • The investor must actively participate in the management of the company.
  • The commercial enterprise must have been established after 29.11.1990. If it was founded before that date, it must have been purchased and restructured to create a new business.

EB-5 Green Card Application

First, the applicant submits Form I-526 to the relevant Immigration Service Centre. In addition, the applicant must provide evidence that the investment capital was acquired legally, that at least ten jobs will be created by the investment, and that the applicant will have an active role in the company.

If the application is approved, the applicant can file Form I-485 and receive a conditional Green Card at first. After two years, via Form I-829 a new assessment will be made to see whether the applicant has fulfilled his or her promise to invest. If that is the case, a permanent US Green Card will be issued.