US Companies Sponsoring Foreign Workers for Full-Time Employment
US companies can sponsor foreign workers to work for them on a full-time basis. This requires the employer to file a labor certification application with the Department of Labor. This is a prerequisite to filing the I-140 petition. The Department of Labor wants to make sure that there are no US local workers who can fill this position. The process of obtaining labor certification approval takes between 4-7 months, assuming no US workers applied whose experience matches the required duties for the position. In many cases, the Department of Labor approves the case based on the employer proving that there were no available US workers to fill the position, and that the position was so specialized that no one in the requested employment area was available to fill it.
The process requires the employer to obtain a prevailing wage from the Department of Labor, which sets the salary to be paid by the employer for the prospective employee. Later on, the employer must place two newspaper advertisements in a major newspaper covering the area where the employment will take place. There are additional advertising requirements that the employer must complete, based on the nature of the position. For example, a company looking to hire a professional requires placing additional ads in different media.
Once the labor certification gets approved, the employer can file the I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker on behalf of the foreign worker. It is possible that the employer files for I-485, or the green card petition, along with the I-140 petition if the priority date is current, which usually happens for advanced degree positions and based on the country of birth of the prospective worker (some countries cannot file simultaneously, such as India, China, and Mexico, because of the long waiting list for workers applying from these countries). This process takes a year in most cases, and the foreign worker can immediately start working for their new employer. If the employee was overseas, the petition is sent to the American Embassy covering the place where the worker resides.
The green card is given to the worker and their immediate family members, spouse, and children less than 21 years of age. Later on, the worker can apply for US citizenship in 5 years from the date they receive the green card, the permanent resident card. Finally, the immigration filing fees are usually less than $2,000 for the I-140 and the green card.