Permanent Residence

1. Overview
Immigrants may be eligible to gain permanent resident status in the United States through family, employment, religious occupation, or investment.

2. Family-Based Adjustment of Status
The spouse, children, and parents of U.S. citizens can apply for permanent residence regardless of the priority date. Other family members of U.S. citizens and family of U.S. permanent residents are subject to the following preference categories, and can only apply once the priority date set by USCIS has been reached:

  • First Preference: unmarried, adult sons and daughters of U.S. Citizens
  • Second Preference (2A): spouses of green card holders, unmarried children under 21 of permanent residents
  • Second Preference (2B): unmarried adult sons and daughters of permanent residents
  • Third Preference: married sons and daughters (any age) of U.S. citizens
  • Fourth Preference: brothers and sisters of adult U.S. citizens

3. Employment-Based Adjustment of Status
(1) Type of Employment Based Adjustment of Status

  1. EB-1
    • Persons with outstanding ability in science, arts, education, or physical education (EB-1A): If they are recognized for their national and international reputation in their field, they can apply for employment immigration directly without an employer in the United States through USCIS.
    • Researchers with 3 or more years of internationally recognized teaching or research experience in the field (EB-1B): A work permit approval from the Department of Labor is not required, but an employer in the United States must file an Employment Immigration Petition I-140 with USCIS.
    • Executives (EB-1C) of a partner, parent, subsidiary or branch of a U.S. company: A work permit approval from the Department of Labor is not required, but an employer in the U.S. must file an immigration petition I-140 with USCIS.
  2. EB-2
    • You may be eligible for an employment-based, second preference visa if you are a member of the professions holding an advanced degree or its equivalent, or a foreign national who has exceptional ability in science, art, or business. All visa applicants must have a work permit approved by the U.S. Department of Labor or demonstrate expertise in a field that is understaffed in the United States. Employers in the United States must file an employment immigration petition with USCIS.
  3. EB-3
    • The EB-3 immigrant visa is available for skilled workers or professionals who work in occupations that require a bachelor’s degree, or skilled workers with more than 2 years of experience, or craftsmen with less than 2 years of experience. Employers in the United States must file an Employment Immigration Petition I-140 with USCIS. All applicants must first be approved for a work permit by the US Department of Labor.

(2) Employment Based AOS Process
Employers must first obtain a Labor Certificate from the U.S. Department of Labor for the position of a permanent resident applicant, except in exceptional cases where labor authorization is waived. After the Labor Certificate is granted, the employer files the employee’s immigration petition, Form 1-140, and the permanent resident applicant applies for adjust of status through USCIS, Form I-485, to change his or her status from a short-term visa holder to a permanent resident.

4. Religious-Based Adjustment of Status (EB-4)
Another path to permanent residency is through the R-1 visa. Applicants for religious permanent residency must be a member of the same denomination and have worked for the denomination for at least two years, paid and full-time. Due to the strict nature of the EB-4 screening process, holders of a master’s degree or higher may apply for permanent residency through the EB-2 route.

5. Investment Based Adjustment of Status (EB-5)
Investment immigration is a case of applying for permanent residence through a certain amount of investment, unlike the case of obtaining a short-term nonimmigrant visa (E-2) through investment. In order to qualify for adjustment of status through investment, the investment must be between $500,000 and $1 million and made in a business that can create regular employment for ten or more Americans, permanent residents or lawful residents of the United States, excluding immigrant visa applicants and their accompanying family members. The minimum investment required to apply for permanent residency varies depending on the region in which the investment is made.