Sample U. S. VisaForeign nationals who desire to live and work in the United States can do so by acquiring the status of “Lawful Permanent Resident” (“Green Card”). There are several processes by which a person can acquire a Green Card for himself/herself, his/her spouse and his/her child(ren).

If the a foreign national is coming to America for full-time, U.S. based employment, it will be through a process termed “Employment Based Green Card processing”. The process begins with a U.S. employer, who qualifies under Federal regulations, seeking to hire someone suited for a specific position based on education and experience. Most important, the position must be one that no qualified American is willing or able to perform. Then, and only then, can a U.S. employer offer the position to a foreign national (an exception to this regulation would be where Labor Certification for a particular job category is not required).
Once the U.S. employer establishes that such is the case, the employer begins a process to the U.S. Department of Labor Prevailing Wage Determination (“PWD”) followed by a PERM Labor Certification Application (“LCA”). When the LCA is approved, the employer has 180 days to file a Form I-140 Visa petition for the foreign national it intends to hire. Unless there is a backlog for the particular job category the foreign national is being hired in, an application for a Green Card (Form I-485) for that person can also be filed with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”). If the foreign national is already lawfully in the United States, the Form I-485 interview can take place at a local USCIS office. If the interview is successful, the foreign national becomes Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR”/”Green Card”). The interview will take place at the U.S. Embassy or Consulate if the foreign national is abroad. The spouse and/or children of the foreign national can also LPRS by proving their relationship to the newly hired foreign national employee.

If the Consulate interview is successful, the foreign national can enter the U.S. with an Immigrant Visa and become a LPR. If the foreign national has a wife and/or children, they can also become LPRs by proving their relationship to the newly hired foreign national employee.

Approximately 140,000 Employment Based Visas are issued on an annual basis.

21089790_sEmployment Based Green Cards are also available for persons of extraordinary ability in the arts, science, athletics or business (EB-1); for professionals, persons with advanced degrees and exceptional ability in business, the arts or science, and skilled workers (EB-2/EB-3); or, for persons who qualify through the Special Jobs Category (Religious Worker, Afghan/Iraqi Translator, International Organization Employee, Broadcaster, Iraqi Who Assisted the U.S. Government, NATO-6 Nonimmigrant, Panama Canal Employee, Physician National Interest Waiver) (EB-4); and, to foreign investors or entrepreneurs whose investment will create new U.S. jobs (EB-5).

The most common Green Card petitions and approvals are so-called “Family Based” Green Cards. Approximately 480,000 Green Cards can be issued annually in the Family Categories. These Cards are obtained through a petition by a United States Citizen (“USC”) or Lawful Permanent Resident (“LPR”) for a spouse, child(ren) or other family members. The person who is being petitioned for (the “Beneficiary”) can either be present in the United States or in his/her native country. If the Beneficiary is in the United States, that person MUST be here through lawful admission. If the Beneficiary is not in the United States, that person must wait until the I-130 “Petition For Alien Relative” and/or I-485 “Application To Register Permanent Residence or to Adjust Status” is approved and he/she receives a notification and other processing information from the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in that country.

USCIS follows “Preference Categories” in deciding what order petitions get approved for U.S. “Permanent Residency”. The Preference Categories are:

  • Immediate Relatives: An unlimited number of Immediate Relatives of U.S. Citizens, who qualify, can be issued Green Cards. Under U.S. law the following groups of persons qualify as “Immediate Relatives”:
    • Spouses of U.S. Citizens (including recent widows and widowers).
    • Single persons under the age of 21 with one U.S. Citizen parent.
    • Parents of U.S. Citizens, if the the U.S. Citizen is 21 years old or older.
    • Stepchild(ren) and/or Stepparent(s) of U.S. Citizens, provided the marriage took place before the child’s 18th birthday.
    • Parents and children related through adoption, if that adoption occurred before the child(ren) reached age 16.
  • Family First Preference: Unmarried, sons and daughters of at least one U.S. Citizen parent.
  • Second Preference: (2A): Spouses of Green Card Holders, unmarried child(ren) (under age 21) of Green Card Holders/LPRs.
  • Second Preference: (2B):  Unmarried adult (age 21 or older) sons and daughters of Green Card Holders/LPRs.
  • Third Preference: Married sons and daughters (any age) of at least one U.S. Citizen parent.
  • Fourth Preference: Brothers and Sisters of U.S. citizens when the U.S. Citizen is over 21.

7686709_sA U.S. Citizen can file an Immigrant Visa Application for Immediate Relatives and/or persons in the First, Third and Fourth Family Preference Categories.

A Green Card Holder/LPR can only file an Immigrant Visa Application for persons in Family Preference Categories 2A and/or 2B.

Visas become available by Preference Category according to the “Priority Date” – the date on which the I-130 “Petition for Alien Relative” was filed. The length of time for a Family Preference Visa to become available varies because a limited number of Visas are made available for each Category.

We can help you to obtain your Employment Based Visa or Green Card, or your Family Based Visa or Green Card if you live in Louisiana including the following areas:

St. Tammany – Covington, Mandeville, Madisonville, Slidell, Abita Springs

Tangipahoa – Hammond, Amite, Kentwood, Independence,  Ponchatoula

Jefferson and Orleans – Metairie, Kenner, New Orleans, Harahan, Terrytown, Westwego

St. Bernard – Arabi, Chalmette, Poydras, Meraux, Violet

Lafourche – Thibodaux, Lockport, Golden Meadow, Kraemer

Terrebonne – Houma

You can check the Visa availability for the current Fiscal Year by clicking on the “View Current Visa Bulletin” link under the Resources tab above.