Is a Work Visa a Path to a Green Card?

Is a Work Visa a Path to a Green Card?


A work visa can absolutely be a valid path to a green card. Yet it is not an easy path. Supplies of employment-based green cards are limited. Only 140,000 of these visas are available every year.

This may mean years of waiting, which means developing a relationship with an employer-sponsor who will continue to look out for your interests will be a vital part of the process.

Many immigrants start with a student visa so they can develop relationships with employers while studying. It allows for face-to-face interviewing and ensures the employer doesn’t have to go through the time and trouble of interviewing across borders. 

If you already have your degree this is less feasible. Instead, you might want to try to get an L visa for temporary workers. You can often convert this to a more permanent visa type later if you find an employment sponsor. The seasonal jobs attached to an L1 visa are also often easier to get. There are also H2 visas for people who will be working in labor shortage areas

Assuming you can get an employment-based visa that keeps you in the country long enough, you can often pursue an adjustment-of-status which would then lead to permanent residency status. 

The employment based green-card categories are EB1, EB2, EB3, EB4, and EB5. These are essentially numbered in order of preference. 

An EB-1 visa is an employee with “extraordinary ability.” These visas are very difficult to get and you will need a mountain of evidence that you have truly achieved a great deal in your own country in the arts, in business, in the sciences, or in athletics. Most of the people who get these visas are PhDs.

An EB-2 is an “extra ability” visa for the same categories. They’re a little easier to get. There is a temporary form of this visa called the O-1 visa. 

An EB-3 is for professionals with bachelor’s degrees or bachelor’s degrees.

EB-4s are for special immigrants such as members of the clergy.

Finally there are EB-5 visas, in which you essentially buy US Citizenship: invest at least $900,000 in a qualifying company, and you could have permanent residency. You will most likely need an attorney’s help to document that the company is qualified, creates the requisite number of jobs, and matches all relevant requirements. 

No matter what your skills, ability, monetary situation or employment situation, you will most likely need the help of a qualified immigration attorney to navigate the process. Reach out to John Hykel law to set up a free consultation today.

See also:

I-140 Petitions

Student Visa Questions

How to Hire an H1-B Worker

In-Office Consultation

Realizing Your Dreams for a New Life in the United States