Three steps are involved for obtaining green card through the employer. This process is as follows:

Step 1: Labor Certification

The first step in this process is obtaining a labor certification. This has to be filed to be filed using the new PERM system (Program Electronic Review Management System).


  • Under the PERM regulations, state workforce agencies (SWAs) have no involvement in the permanent labor certification process. Employer has to test the U.S. job market to demonstrate that the employer could not identify any minimally qualified U.S. workers, willing to accept an open position that is being offered at a wage equal to or more than the prevailing wage for similarly employed workers, and that the employment of the alien worker will have no adverse effect on the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
  • If no qualified U.S. worker is willing to accept the proffered position as identified, the PERM application can be filed both online and manually. But the labor department prefers online filing. Besides manually filed requests take longer than online applications.
  • The job requirements must be those normally required for the occupation and may not exceed the SVP estimate.
  • If the alien is already hired by the employer, DOL will look at the training and experience, which the alien possessed at the time of hiring, since normally the employer cannot require U.S. applicants to possess training and/or experience beyond what the alien possessed when hired.
  • Documentation of recruitment efforts, and responses to those efforts, as well as other matters, must be assembled and submitted to DOL should an audit so request.
  • Once the labor request is certified by the labor department, it is valid for 180 days for moving to the next stage of green card (filing of I-140 petition).

Step 2: I-140 Petition

Once the labor is certified by the Department of Labor, the next step is to file the I-140 petition with USCIS. The petition is filed by the employer to show that it has the financial capacity to pay the proffered wages to the employee. The potential employee needs to show that he/she meets all the requirements listed on the labor certification. By this time, a decision should be made, based on a case by case basis, whether your case is good for adjustment of status or for processing through the U.S. Consulate in your home country.

Step 3: I-485 (Adjustment of Status by the employee)

This is the last step in the process of obtaining green card or permanent residency. This includes filing of employee’s I-485 application, which is also called “the adjustment of status” processing. This is also the phase for filing of advance travel documents and work authorization documents (EAD) for the employee and the family members as well. It is important to note that the adjustment of status application can only be filed when the visa number is available, and this happens when the issued priority date (see I-140 approval notice) becomes current.

U.S. State Department’s Visa Bulletin

U.S. Green Card Priority Date Concept

Importance of Priority Dates for Green Cards

Immigrant Petition (I-140) and Avoiding Request for Evidence