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Perm-based EB-2 and EB-3 green cards are employment-based immigrant visas. It requires a U.S. employer sponsor and has a series of lengthy and complicated procedures. The initial step in a labor certification-based green card process is completing and filing the PERM labor certification. Applicants file with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
What Is PERM?
PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) refers to the electronic labor certification system. Labor certification (not to be confused with the Labor Condition Application – LCA) is required when the U.S. employer wishes to hire the foreign worker on a permanent basis.
To sum it up, the PERM process requires the employer petitioning for a foreign worker to perform myriad recruitment activities to test the labor market before filing an application. If, during the recruitment process, the employer finds that there is not a sufficient number of willing, qualified, or able applicants, whether U.S. citizens or permanent residents, then the employer can submit a PERM labor certification application.
What Is an EB-2 Visa and Who Qualifies for It?
EB-2 visas are for foreign nationals who have job offers within the United States, who have received approved labor certifications, and who hold advanced academic degrees. They are also available for people who have demonstrated exceptional ability and received national interest waivers (NIWs).
“Advanced degrees” are defined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) as any degree above a Bachelor’s. According to 8 C.F.R. § 204.5(k)(2), a Bachelor’s degree “followed by at least 5 years of progressive experience in the specialty shall be considered the equivalent to a master’s degree.”
Foreign nationals seeking EB-2 visas must meet the minimum requirements before their prospective American employer files for labor certification on their behalf. Experienced gained with the sponsoring employer will not count toward labor certification unless previous positions held with said employer were significantly different than the position for which they are seeking an EB-2 visa.
Applicants must also have completed the necessary educational requirements prior to employment. EB-2 visas typically lead to permanent residency and receipt of a green card.
EB-3 visas are for skilled, unskilled, and professional workers who have permanent, full-time job offers from American employers.
The process of obtaining an EB-3 visa begins when the employer obtains approved labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor and proves that they first attempted to hire U.S. workers. (Applicants in this category are not required to complete NIWs.)
Professional workers without advanced degrees who hold university degrees in their respective fields may be eligible for EB-3 visas. Skilled workers do not necessarily have to have college degrees in order to qualify, but they must have 2+ years of professional experience or training and/or postsecondary training.
Are Unskilled Workers Eligible for EB-3 Visas?
Unskilled workers may be able to obtain EB-3 visas if they currently hold occupations that require less than 2 years of training or if they have less than 2 years of experience in their current line of work; unskilled workers must also meet the basic requirements for their job with a U.S. employer.
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