If you are hoping to acquire an employment-based green card or family-based green card for permanent resident status in the United States, you will first need to submit a petition for a visa. However, as a foreign national, you may not submit that petition on your own behalf. Instead, you will need a United States employer or citizen family member to act as your sponsor. Your sponsor, or petitioner, will need to file the visa petition on behalf of you, the beneficiary. Visa petitions, which require sponsorship from employers or family members, also determine waiting list position for green card processing. This article outlines the basic steps in the visa petition process.

Submitting the Visa Petition: Basic Requirements and Information

The visa petition serves several purposes. From an administrative standpoint, the petition informs USCIS of whether you are applying from within the U.S. or through a foreign consulate. More substantively, the petition serves as documentation that your petitioner is legally able to act as your sponsor and that your petitioner intends to help you immigrate to the United States. The petition itself thus includes documentation to establish both of these basic requirements.

In the case of employers, a petitioner must supply documentation generally proving that your employment is legal and certain. Your employer will need to submit two general categories of materials: documents proving that you are entitled to work and documents proving that your employer is able to pay you. With respect to the first category, your employer will likely submit proof of a valid labor certification, as well as documentation of your personal qualifications for the position. To this end, you may need to supply your employer with official educational transcripts and your professional history. With respect to the second category, proof that your employer can pay you, the employer may need to submit tax documents or revenue reports.

If a family member is sponsoring your petition, the supporting documentations will be different in nature. In this instance, your family member will need to submit documents that establish the petitioner’s citizenship status and relationship to you. For example, the petitioner will need to show that he or she is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and also that he or she is actually related to you. Proof of relation generally occurs via birth certificates, marriage certificates, and other official documents.

Visa Petitions and Waiting List Status

Almost all immigration categories contain caps on the number of green cards granted annually. One of the most important functions of a visa petition is to determine your position on a waiting list for these limited immigration categories. Your place in line for a green card, or “priority date,” is the date that your visa petition was submitted; the State Department processes petitions in the order received and publishes current processing information on its website.

Immediate Relatives: Exception to Priority Date Processing

There is one major exception to the rule regarding priority dates: if you entered the U.S. legally and are currently living here, and if your petitioner is your immediate relative, you may qualify for an “adjustment of status.” Green card applicants with this status can receive expediting processing and do not need to leave the United States before initiating an application.

We Are Ready For Assistance

IF you are interested in pursuing a family-based or employment-based green card for yourself, a family member or an employee – contact Pride Immigration Law Firm PLLC today. Our immigration attorneys have extensive experience properly managing all aspects of the permanent resident process including PERM Labor Certification, submission of form I-140 and the eventual adjustment of status. Call our office or send us a message online to set up a consultation so that you can discuss your options with a qualified immigration attorney and make the best decision moving forward.


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Beeraj Patel, Esq.

Partner at KPPB Law
Beeraj Patel's philosophy is simple - make it easy for talented and ambitious individuals to have access to immigration materials so that they can make the choice which is right for them.
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