Employment-Based Green Card Application: Priority Date and Visa Petition

Today’s post is Part 2 in the Employment-Based Green Card Application titled, “The Priority Date and Visa Petition.”

Part 2: Priority Date and Visa Petition

After the successful completion of the Labor Certification Application, the next step is to receive a Priority Date, which is considered your “place in line” in regards to your eligibility to apply for permanent residence (AKA green card).

Note that this date will correspond not with the date the application is approved, but the actual filing date.

Once the Labor Certification Application is approved, your immigration lawyer will submit an I-140 visa petition on your behalf to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Along with establishing your immigrant preference classification, the I-140 visa also offers proof of the following:

  1. The position applied for has been certified by the Department of Labor
  2. The applicant has met each of the earlier labor certification’s requirements
  3. The sponsoring employer has the revenue/resources to pay the listed salary

Immigrant Preference Classification

There are a total of five immigrant preference classifications, numbered 1-5. These classifications essentially determine the length of the wait time the foreign employee will face before being eligible to apply for a green card.

An immigrant seeking an employment-based green card will likely fall under the second and thirdpreference classifications, which are described as follows:

  • Second preference – Designated for positions that require at a minimum a master’s degree or higher or a bachelor’s degree and five years of progressive experience.
  • Third preference – Positions that do not meet the second preference category requirement.

It’s better to qualify in the second preference classification as the wait time is historically much shorter than the third preference category. It should be noted that currently, there are separate and longer wait times in both categories for individuals born China, India, Mexico, or the Philippines.

Furthermore, the I-140 visa petition phase will cover three additional requirements:

  1. Documentation that proves the sponsoring employer can indeed pay your salary, this generally being a federal tax return or some other official documentation.
  2. Documentation that proves your education and experience. This is usually provided in the form of diplomas, transcripts, and letters from previous employers, and it’s usually completed early in the labor certification process.
  3. A decision on whether the permanent residence will be sought here in the United States, or an American consulate abroad. Reasons for applying abroad might include frequent travel abroad, local USCIS time delays, underlying immigrant status, or a United States ineligibility issue.

Additionally, foreign employees who are already in H-1B status but faced with a longer wait due to either their birth country or being in the third preference classification may be eligible to extend their H-1B status beyond the six-year maximum while they wait for their wait time to elapse.

For more information on the employment-based green card application process, contact Lightman Law Firm at (212) 643-0985 or submit a consultation request online

Lightman Law Firm was recently honored as New York’s 2014 Immigration Law Firm of the Year by Acquisition International. Additionally, founding attorney, Douglas Lightman, was named a “Rising Star” by SuperLawyers.com. Lightman Law Firm also carries a 4.9 rating on Google Reviews.