President Biden recently ended the freeze on green card applications that former president Donald Trump enacted in April 2020. The revoked freeze allows immigrants to apply immediately for green cards instead of waiting until the end of March 2021. While the freeze did not block American citizens from bringing their spouses or children to the United States, it prohibited relatives of green card holders and people seeking green cards based on a job offer from getting one.
The freeze on temporary work visas for skilled workers, managers, and au-pairs in H-1B, H-4, H-2B, L-1, and J categories remains in effect until March 31, 2021.
The United States issues several types of work visas to foreign nationals who want to work here, including green cards, temporary work visas, seasonal work visas, and exchange worker visas. Some visa categories require U.S. Department of Labor certification that shows there are not enough U.S. workers able, willing, qualified, and available to work in the geographic location and that no American workers are displaced by foreign workers.
What is a Green Card?
A green card is a type of work visa that gives holders permanent U.S. residency and legal rights to work in the U.S. A green card is typically issued for 10 years but can be renewed. Having permanent U.S. residency allows a green card holder to:
- Buy a house or property in the U.S. and reside in the U.S.
- Travel between the U.S. and country of origin without a visitor or business visa
- Work in the U.S. without any other visa or work authorization
- Register and run a business in the U.S.
- Study in the U.S.
- Sponsor family members for U.S. immigrant visas
- Apply for U.S. citizenship after five years of residency
- Retain citizenship in one’s native country
- Be responsible for upholding local, state, and federal laws the same as natural-born U.S. citizens do
What are the Different Types of Green Cards?
Each year, the U.S. issues a limited number of green cards under different categories through a lottery system. Often, a U.S. employer will sponsor an employee’s green card through a job or employment offer. If an employer does not sponsor a foreign worker’s green card, they can apply for one according to the following criteria and priority preferences mandated by Congress:
- EB-1: First preference for priority workers with extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics fields; outstanding professors and researchers; or certain multinational managers and executives.
- EB-2: Second preference for those holding advanced degrees or who have exceptional ability in EB-1 professions.
- EB-3: Third preference for foreign nationals who are skilled workers, professionals, or other workers.
- EB-4: Fourth preference for special immigrants, such as religious workers, neglected/abused juveniles, retired officers or employees of certain international organizations or NATO, and specific family members.
- EB-5: Fifth preference for immigrant investors who invested or are actively in the process of investing at least $1 million in a new commercial enterprise that will benefit the U.S. economy and create at least 10 full-time positions for qualifying employees.
Family-Sponsored Green Card
A family member who is a U.S. citizen can sponsor a green card for a spouse, child, parents, and siblings. To be eligible to sponsor a relative, the sponsor must:
- Be a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent U.S. resident
- Prove that they can support the relative at 125 percent above the mandated poverty line
- Prove that the beneficiary will not become a public charge
- Provide proof of the relationship
To be eligible for lawful permanent residence based on a family relationship, the foreign national must:
- Have a relative who is a U.S. citizen or lawful permanent resident, can provide documentation proving their status, is willing to sponsor and complete Form I-130, Petition for Alien Relative
- Have a relative that can support the foreign national by providing documentation that their income is 125 percent above the mandated poverty line for their family size.
- Prove that they will not become a public charge and depend on the state for benefits
- Prove that they share a relationship with the sponsor
Anyone hoping to apply for or sponsor someone for a green card should contact a visa petition lawyer for guidance.
What are Other Types of Work Visas?
In addition to a green card, there are several other types of work visas a foreigner can apply for:
- Exchange Visitor Visas (J): For foreigners approved to participate in work-and study-based exchange visitor programs.
- Temporary Work Visas for Non-Agricultural (H-2B): Available to foreign workers in non-agricultural fields where there are not enough domestic workers to fill the position.
- Temporary Worker Visa for Skilled Workers (H-1B): For skilled, educated individuals employed in specialized, in-demand occupations who will work temporarily for a specific U.S. employer in the United States.
- Seasonal Agricultural Worker Visa (H2-A): For foreign agricultural workers who will work on a seasonal or temporary basis provided there is a shortage of domestic workers.
Philadelphia Visa Petition Lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC Advocate for Immigrant Workers
Whether you want to acquire an employment green card for eventual residency, a work visa for a temporary position, or want to sponsor a green card for a family member, the Philadelphia visa petition lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC can help. Our lawyers understand the complexities of immigration and labor laws. For a free consultation, call 215-496-0690 or contact us online. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.