Overview of permanent residence
Permanent residence also is called immigrant status and is documented with a I-551 Alien Registration Card (also called a green card).
Fermi Research Alliance (FRA) may sponsor qualified individuals in good standing for permanent residence, provided that they now hold tenure-equivalent (nonterm) jobs, and tenure-track positions of Associate Scientists and Application Physicists.
There are three common types of permanent residence filings:
- The 1st Preference (EB-1) category includes persons with Extraordinary Ability and Outstanding Researchers and Professors.
- The 2nd Preference (EB-2) category includes Professionals with Advanced Degrees and Aliens of Exceptional Ability. Labor certification normally is required.
- The 3rd Preference (EB-3) category includes Professionals with Bachelor’s Degrees. Labor certification is always involved.
Immigrant visa backlogs and priority dates
The process of obtaining permanent residence consists of no less than 2 types of filings: (1) the Form I-140 “Immigrant Worker” Petition, and (2) the Form I-485 Adjustment of Status Application. Sometimes, the Form I-140 petition and the I-485 application can be filed at the same time. This depends on whether there is a “backlog” in the EB category.
As background, Congress permits only a limited number of persons to immigrate each fiscal year, which runs from October 1 to September 30. It roughly categorizes immigrants based on their country of birth, to ensure that no more than 7 percent of total immigration each year is from a given country. Only the Philippines, India, Mexico and China push this threshold limit. Thus, immigration by individuals born in those countries sometimes is limited, which creates a backlog.
Each month, the Department of State (DOS) issues a “Visa Bulletin.” In the Bulletin, the DOS publishes whether an immigrant category is “current” (denoted by “C”, which means that there is no backlog), unavailable (denoted by “U”, which means that the DOS believes that the backlog will extend past the end of the immediate fiscal year). The third option is a date, which means that individual’s whose “priority date” is the same as, or earlier, than the date listed in the Bulletin for their immigrant category may file their I-485 application, but people with later “priority dates” cannot.
Your priority date is the date on which the first step toward permanent residence was taken. For EB-1 and NIW filings, this is the date the Form I-140 petition is filed. In all other cases, where labor certification is required, the priority date is the date the Labor Certification Application is filed.
Thus, the date listed in the Visa Bulletin for country of birth and the immigrant category in question should be (1) “C” (which means there is no backlog) or (2) the same as, or earlier than, your priority date.
Questions? Comments? Contact the Visa Office!