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Sponsorship of US Employee For Permanent Residence Status

Every year, thousands of migrant workers and their family members move to the US to take up skilled work. The immigration routes for migrant workers wishing to work in the US are divided into several categories, including priority workers, those with advanced degrees (or higher, professionals and skilled workers, and ‘special immigrants’ in certain fields. Not only can employers support an overseas worker by offering them a job, but they can also petition the government to help them acquire permanent residence. In this article, we will explain how a US employer can sponsor an overseas employee for permanent residence status.

What type of migrant workers can I sponsor for permanent residency?

As a US employer, you can sponsor/petition a foreign worker who has been offered a job, whether the worker is in the US or outside. Sponsorship is possible for those workers who are eligible for employment-based (EB) visas, including:

EB-1: Priority Workers, including:

  • Those with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics;
  • Outstanding professors and researchers;
  • Multinational executives and managers.

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

  • Migrant workers who, because of their exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, will substantially benefit the national economy, cultural, or educational interests or welfare of the United States;
  • Those who are members of professions holding advanced degrees or the equivalent.

EB-3: Professional or Skilled Workers

  • Professionals with a baccalaureate degree;
  • Those capable of performing skilled labor (requiring at least two years of training or experience) for which qualified workers are not available in the United States.
  • Workers capable of performing unskilled labor for which qualified workers are not available in the United States.

EB-4 – Special Immigrants

What Is The Process Of Sponsoring The Permanent Residency Application Of A Migrant Worker?

There are a number of steps involved in securing permanent residency for a migrant worker, involving both the employer and the worker themselves. Sponsorship of an employee relies on the employer formally petitioning US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The steps involved in petitioning are as follows:

Step 1) Employer Submits Application For Permanent Labor Certification From The US Department Of Labor (DOL)

The Permanent Labor Certification, if granted, gives the employer permission to recruit a foreign national to work on a permanent basis in the US. By completing the request for certification, the employer is required to certify that there are “not sufficient US workers able, willing, qualified and available to accept the job opportunity in the area of intended employment and that employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers”.

Once the Permanent Labor Certification is issued to the employer by the DOL, it is then possible to proceed to the next stage of petitioning the immigration services on behalf of the employee.

Step 2) Employer Submits Form I-140, Immigrant Petition For Alien Worker To USCIS

By filing an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, your business is stating its intent to hire the foreign national once the petition is approved by USCIS. To make a successful petition for permanent residence, you will need to prove that you have a genuine employer-employee relationship and that the employee has the necessary skills/experience/qualifications to undertake the role for which they are being hired. If the I-140 petition application is approved, the employee will then be added to a queue of applicants for the same type of employment-based visa. Employers are encouraged to file the DOL application in step 1 as soon as possible as the date of its filing will help determine the place in the queue (this is referred to as the “priority date”. If a permanent labor certification is not required, then the place in the queue will be determined by the date the petition itself is filed. It is also essential that you provide all of the supporting documents requested by USCIS and the correct application fee is paid, this will avoid the refusal of the application or the need to request further information, and hence a delay in the process.

Step 3) The Migrant Worker Can Apply For Immigration Permission To Work And Live In The US

You will be formally notified by USCIS once the petition is granted, after which the file will be sent to the US Department of State’s National Visa Center (NVC). Once your employee gets to the top of the queue, the NVC will then send a notification to you and the migrant worker that they can apply for an immigrant visa (for both themselves and their dependants).

Can The Migrant Worker’s Family Join Them In The US?

Typically, at the point at which the foreign worker reaches the top of the list (as outlined in step 2), In most cases, when the foreign national’s place in line is reached, and they apply to work and live in the US, their spouse and children will be able to apply for immigrant visas at the same time. It is important to note here that the employer is not able to petition directly for immigration permission for the spouse and children of the migrant worker, rather they have to do this themselves based on their family connection. Children will be eligible for a visa as long as they are under 21 and are classed as dependants (i.e. they are not married).

Wrapping Up

One of the challenges for employers and employees is having to wait for a decision on the petition application. This can be extremely quick, or quite protracted depending on the exact circumstances of the application. This is where securing the services of an immigration solicitor can be invaluable, as they will be able to advise you of the realistic timescales involved and how this can be reduced. They will also be able to check over your application and supporting documents to ensure that there are no unnecessary delays.

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