An Introduction to Permanent Immigration


Permanent immigration is the ultimate goal of many people entering or planning to enter the United States. Lawful permanent residency offers individuals a multitude of benefits, including the freedom to live and work permanently in the US. Potential immigrants should be as informed about the laws and options as possible. That’s why our firm is dedicated to providing you with a complete online database of immigration information.

Immigrants to the United States are divided into two categories:


Individuals who may acquire permanent residency without numerical limitation.


Individuals subject to a yearly limitation.

There are three divisions of this category:  employment-based; family-based; and diversity immigrants.

Please use the area below to broaden your knowledge on the different paths to permanent residency in the United States.

Employment Based

One of the most widely used methods to obtain permanent immigration is through employment. There are five classifications for employment-based immigration. Please click on the category that best suits your situation.


The EB-1 classification is open to 3 types of foreign nationals that:

  • Possess Extraordinary Ability in the Sciences, Arts, Education, Business or Athletics, or
  • Are Outstanding Professors or Researchers, or
  • Managers and Executives of multinational business entities who are on international transfer to the U.S.

Persons in this category are allowed to file for permanent residency (green cards) and do not need to file labor certification application. Thus, beneficiaries in this group enjoy the highest priority among all employment-based green cards.



Individuals with extraordinary ability may self-petition. All other EB-1 petitions should be filed by your employer.

Either you or your employer should file-in Form I-140, the Petition for Alien Worker with the USCIS Regional Service Center that has jurisdiction over the location of your employment. This form should contain all necessary documents and evidence. Labor certification is not required for EB-1 petitions.



Aliens with extraordinary ability are defined by USCIS as individuals with “extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business, or athletics which has been demonstrated by sustained national or international acclaim and whose achievements have been recognized in the field through extensive documentation.” The Nobel Prize or similar awards duly prove this status. However, there are alternative means of proving your extraordinary ability.

You may submit at least three of the following types of evidence:

  • Receipt of lesser recognized prizes or awards for excellence.
  • Membership in associations in your area which demand outstanding achievement of their members.
  • Published material about you in major publications.
  • Proof that you have judged others’ works. Proof that you have made original contributions to your field.
  • Proof that you have published articles about your field in major publications.
  • Proof that your work has been displayed in exhibitions or showcases.
  • High status in a distinguished organization.
  • Proof that you receive high payments for your work, in relation to your peers.
  • Proof of commercial success in the performing arts.

As an outstanding professor or researcher, you should be internationally recognized in your field. You should be coming to the US to accept a tenure track position, and you should have had at least three years experience in your academic field.

Evidence of your status should include at least two of the following:

  • Receipt of major prizes or awards for outstanding achievement.
  • Membership in associations in your area which demand outstanding achievement of their members.
  • Published material about you in major publications.
  • Proof that you have judged others’ works.
  • Proof that you have made original contributions to your field.
  • Proof that you have published articles about your field in major publications.

To be eligible for EB-1 classification as a manager or executive transferred to the US, you must have been employed outside the US as a manager or executive for at least one out of the past three years. The company you work for must have been seeking to enter the US to conduct business during that period of time.

The EB-2 classification is open to 3 types of foreign nationals:

  • Exceptional Ability in the Sciences, Arts or Business, or
  • Are Advanced Degree Professionals, or
  • Are Qualified Alien Physicians who will practice medicine in an area of the U.S. which is underserved.


Your employer should file-in Form I-140, the Petition for Alien Worker with the USCIS Regional Service Center that has jurisdiction over the location of your employment. This form should contain all necessary documents and evidence. Labor certification (Form ETA-750) is also required for most EB-2 petitions.


Individuals with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business may apply to waive the labor certification requirement if a waiver would be in the national interest. To apply for this waiver, you should file-in Form ETA-750B.



A petition for a foreign national holding an advanced degree can be made when a position requiring an advanced degree becomes available in the US. Interested candidates must show proof of their education and at least five years work experience.


If you wish to be classified as having exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business, you should intend to provide at least three of the following:

  • Proof of academic achievement, including diplomas, degrees or certificates from colleges or universities.
  • Letters that prove you have at least ten years of full-time experience in your field.
  • A license to practice your profession or certification in your specialty.
  • Proof that you have received a worthy salary for your services.
  • Membership in professional associations
  • Recognition in your field from peers, government officials or organizations.

If you cannot provide documentation of three of these requirements, other documents may suffice.


The National Interest Waiver for Qualified Physicians In Underserved Areas


Under 2 circumstances, a physician applying for EB-2 visa can be exempted from the labor certification process if:

The petitioner (sponsoring employer) request a national interest waiver on behalf of the qualified alien physician, or The alien physician self-petitioning for EB-2 on his own can show his entry into the U.S. is in the national interest.

The EB-3 classification is open to the following:

  • Professionals with Bachelor’s degrees who do not qualify for either categories EB-1 and EB-2, or
  • Aliens with at least two years of experience as skilled workers, professionals with a baccalaureate degree, or
  • Unskilled workers who can work in fields for which US workers are unavailable.


Your employer should file-in USCIS Form I-140 Petition for Alien Workers with the USCIS Regional Service Center that has jurisdiction over the location of your employment. EB-3 petitions also require an approved Labor Certification (Form ETA-750) from the Department of Labor.



  • Skilled workers should have at least two years experience, either through hands-on experience or through post-secondary education.
  • Professionals should have either a U.S bachelor’s degree or a foreign equivalent degree.
  • Labor Certification Process for EB-2 and EB-3

Generally, an employer (petitioner) sponsoring an employee (beneficiary) in either EB-2 or EB-3 must complete an Application for Permanent Employment Certification by filing (Form ETA 9089) for the beneficiary, and file it with the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The Department of Labor will either approve or deny the certification request. The labor certification typically involves the employer documenting that its potential employee is not taking a job from a U.S. worker. In certain circumstances, the employer and the potential employee may be able to show that the potential employee’s entry to the U.S. for the job in question is in the national interest. Both the job and labor certification process will then be waived on the basis of national interest. Labor Certification, also known as PERM,  can be time consuming, as various steps, documentation, testing and advertisement of the job are needed. We have worked with thousands of employers on this process.


After an approval for labor certification is granted, an immigrant visa petition, Form I-140 will then be filed with the USCIS by the employer to bring the applicant into the U.S. However, if the applicant is already in the U.S., he or she can apply to adjust to permanent resident by filing Form I-485 along with the I-140 with the appropriate USCIS branch office.

The EB-4 classification includes 2 groups of foreign nationals:

  • Religious workers – primarily ministers of religion. Employees and former employees of the U.S. Government abroad who are foreign nationals.

This category must file Form I-360, Petition for Amerasian, Widow(er), or Special Immigrant, concurrently with a host of other forms depending on their needs with the USCIS serving the area where the immigrant will work.


Your employer should file-in USCIS Form I-360 with the USCIS Regional Service Center that has jurisdiction over the location of your employment.

You should have been working with your religious organization for at least two years. You should be entering the US to work in one of the following capacities:

  • As a minister or priest of your religious denomination
  • In a professional capacity in a religious vocation or occupation for your religious organization (this requires a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent).
  • In a religious vocation or occupation for your religious organization or its nonprofit affiliate.



Along with submitting Form I-360, you should provide the following documents:

  • Proof that your religious organization is a non-profit organization.
  • A letter from an official of your religious organization in the US stating that you have been a member of the denomination for at least two years, and that you have at least two years experience in your vocation or occupation.
  • The letter should also state certain details about your particular type of vocation/occupation.
  • This letter should also state how you will be paid for your work, and that you do not intend to supplement your income with a second job, or depend on charity for support.

Under U.S. immigration law, qualified individuals seeking permanent residence on the basis of their engagement in a new commercial enterprise can do so by applying for investor visas (i.e., EB-5 visas).



Permanent resident status based on EB-5 eligibility is available to investors, either alone or coming with their spouse and unmarried children. Eligible application will need to meet the following requirements:

  • Establishment of a business.
  • Active involvement in the business. Investment of at least $1 million in the business ($500,000 is acceptable in certain designated areas) which can be in cash, equipment, inventory, etc.
  • Benefiting U.S. economy.
  • Creation of full-time employment for not fewer than 10 U.S. workers



Qualified EB-5 investors are subject to “conditional” permanent residence for a two-year period. During the two year’s conditional period, the EB-5 investor must continuously meet the legal requirements for EB-5 investors. 90 days before the second anniversary of the EB-5 investor’s admission to the U.S. as a conditional permanent resident, Form I-829 must be filed to remove the condition.

Family Based

Permanent immigration in the US comes with a variety of rights and privileges. One method to obtaining lawful permanent residency is through a relative who is either a citizen of the US or a lawful permanent resident.


There are two categories for unlimited family-based immigration:

  • Immediate Relatives of US Citizens (IR): A spouse, widow or unmarried child under the age or 21 of a US citizen. This category also includes parents of adult US citizens
  • Returning Residents (SB): Immigrants who previously lived in the US under lawful permanent resident status. These individuals should be returning to live in the US after being abroad for more than one year.

There are four preference categories for limited family-based immigration:

  • First Preference: Unmarried children over the age of 21 of US citizens.
  • Second Preference: Spouses of lawful permanent residents, their unmarried children under the age of 21, and unmarried children under the age of 21 of lawful permanent residents.
  • Third Preference: Married children of US citizens.
  • Fourth Preference: Siblings of adult US citizens. Your relative should first submit an immigrant visa petition, I-130 Petition for Alien Relative. This form should be accompanied by proof of your relationship to your relative.

Upon approval of this petition, the Department of State will determine if an immigrant visa number is available for you. When a number becomes available, you may apply for assignment of that number.


In order to sponsor a relative for lawful permanent residency, you must prove the following:

  • You are a citizen or a lawful permanent resident of the US.
  • You can support your relative at 125% above the mandated poverty line.

You must also show proof of your relationship with your relative.

Immigrant Visas Through Adoption

International adoption is a big issue to Americans of varying backgrounds. However, the process can be cumbersome, long, tedious and costly. Good and early planning before getting into it is what anyone planning adoption needs to undertake. We can advise you on the various requirements for international adoption beginning from whether you are eligible to adopt a child overseas, steps for planning for home study in the state you reside, steps for locating the child overseas or if you have an identifiable child and how do you know whether the child is considered an orphan or not under the U.S. immigration law, and on how to file necessary documents that will allow you to bring the child into the U.S. We can help you avoid legal, emotional and financial stresses!

U.S. Immigration law allows two methods for U.S. citizens to bring future spouses to the U.S.:

  • K-1 Fiance Visa
  • Alien-Spouse Immigrant Visa

The K-1 Visa generally takes less time to process than the Alien-Spouse Visa. The Alien-Spouse Visa, however, is a proven path toward lawful permanent residency for your spouse. However, we can advise you on the processing times and current practices in the processing of these visas, to ensure you follow the quickest method for getting the Alien Spouse into the United States.


If the marriage takes place abroad, an I-130 petition should be filed after the marriage. This petition should be filed either with USCIS in the U.S., or at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad.


Please contact USCIS or the appropriate foreign service post for details about what specific documents you will need to file an immigrant petition for a new spouse. For more information, read our section on Family-Based Immigration.

Diversity Based

The U.S. allows people who have well-founded fear of persecution to seek asylum or refugee status that will allow them to obtain their permanent residency (Green Card). However, to qualify the applicant need to belong to one or more of the 5 categories of people who have well-founded fear of persecution because of his or her:

  • race,
  • nationality,
  • religion,
  • membership of a particular social group or
  • because he or she is identified with a particular social group,
  • political opinion that will subject him to persecution.

Also, the law requires that an applicant must apply within 1 year of arriving in the U.S. otherwise; applicant must show either extraordinary circumstances or changed circumstances in his or her home country.



You should apply for lawful permanent residency on Asylee Form I-485, application to Register Permanent Residence of Adjust Status. You must have been in the US under asylee status for at least one year.



In addition to Form I-485, the following documents and forms are also required:

  • Fingerprint fee (if you are between the ages of 14 and 79)
  • Form I-485 filing fee
  • Form G-28 (if applicable), signed by both you and your attorney/representative
  • 2 photos in an envelope stapled to lower left corner of Form I-485. Please write your name and A-number (if you know it) in light pencil on the back of each photo.
  • Signed Form G-325, if you are age 14 or older.
  • Form I-693 Medical with Vaccination Supplement. An USCIS authorized civil surgeon must conduct this medical examination and complete the form. Evidence of Asylee Status. This may include a copy of your Form I-94 and a legible copy of the letter granting you asylum.
  • Form IRS-9003, optional.
  • Form I-602, Application by Refugee for Waiver on Grounds of Excludability, if applicable.
  • Evidence that you have been in the US for at least one year.
  • Proof of any absences from the US since you have been granted asylum.
  • A birth certificate or other birth record.
  • Proof of any legal name changes made since you were granted asylum status.

Each year since 1994, the Diversity Lottery Program has allocated 55,000 new immigrant visas each year for individuals from underrepresented nations. A nation is considered underrepresented if less than 50,000 people from that nation immigrated to the US in the past five years.


To be eligible for the Diversity Lottery Program, you should have either a high school education, its equivalent, or two years of work experience within the last five years in a job which demands two years training.


You or your spouse must be a native of a nation eligible for the Diversity Lottery Program. You may be eligible if your parent was born in a country eligible to participate in the lottery.


The Diversity Lottery Program randomly picks the 55,000 visa candidates. Individuals are chosen to receive the visa by chance, not by merit. For the annual Diversity Lottery, check the State Department site on our Links. If you need any information, Contact Us.



Each year, the Department of State publishes specific instructions on how to apply for the Diversity Visa. These instructions are typically made available in August, and the registration period usually begins in early October.



Typically, you only need to submit a letter detailing your personal information. However, you must follow directions exactly when writing this letter. Any deviation may result in disqualification. Details on this year’s Diversity Lottery Program can be obtained either through a consultation with our lawyers, or by contacting your nearest US Embassy or Consulate.

don’t wait any longer

Contact Subhani & Subhani Today!

Contact an experienced immigration lawyer to help you with your case.