Immigrant pathways present prospective opportunities for long-term employment within the United States. Such courses facilitate the acquisition of lawful permanent residence status, also known as a Green Card, which can ultimately lead to U.S. citizenship. 

The lawful permanent resident process typically comprises two or three stages, contingent upon the specific employment-based immigrant visa category being pursued. Generally, most petitioners, typically employers, who file EB-2 and EB-3 petitions must initiate the process by submitting an Application for Permanent Employment Certification (ETA Form 9089, commonly referred to as a labor certification) to the Department of Labor (DOL). An approved permanent labor certification application substantiates the following: 

  • The petitioner has conducted labor market testing within the geographic area of the permanent job offer, verifying the absence of able, qualified, and available U.S. workers willing to accept the permanent job offer. 
  • The beneficiary’s employment will not adversely impact the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. 

Following DOL certification, the petitioner proceeds by submitting the certified labor certification and an immigrant visa petition to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). In all instances, this process necessitates two steps: the filing of an immigrant petition with USCIS and either the submission of an adjustment application with USCIS (if the individual is present in the United States) or an immigrant visa application with the Department of State (DOS) (if the individual is outside the United States or is not pursuing adjustment of status). 

An approved immigrant visa petition establishes the priority date, which determines the sequencing of immigrant visa availability. Only when an immigrant visa becomes immediately available may one file an adjustment application or request a visa through a consulate. If an immigrant visa is immediately available at the time of filing the petition with USCIS, the adjustment application can be filed concurrently. Concurrently with the adjustment application and throughout its pendency, the applicant is eligible to apply for work authorization. 

The availability of an immigrant visa is contingent upon the specific employment-based category being pursued (with greater availability often observed for higher preferences) and the country of chargeability for the immigrant (typically the country of birth). 

As a general rule, EB-1 immigrant visas are usually immediately available for qualifying applicants, regardless of their country of origin. However, for EB-2 and EB-3 immigrant visas, a waiting queue is typically applicable for individuals from China and India. 

For detailed information on the Visa Bulletin process and the allocation of immigrant visas through consular processing, please consult the USCIS webpage on Visa Availability and Priority Dates and Consular Processing. 

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