First Things First: What is a Green Card?
Green cards, or permanent resident cards, are documents that show a person has permanent residency in the United States. A green card holder is a lawful permanent resident in the United States. It’s important to note that holding a green card is different from having U.S. citizenship. Although green card holders can live permanently in the United States, they can’t do everything a U.S. citizen can do. In certain situations, they can even lose their green cards or get into trouble with immigration authorities.
How Can I Get a Green Card as a Business Owner?
If you are a business owner, you usually have the choice between different ways of obtaining a green card (or long-term immigration status) in the United States. One of the options you have is to apply for an EB-1 Green Card.
What is an EB-1 “Persons of Extraordinary Ability” Green Card?
If you have achieved extraordinary results in business, this one's for you! EB-1 green cards require “sustained national or international acclaim” and recognition. This can be proved through extensive documentation.
What Are Some Benefits of Applying for an EB-1 Green Card?
The good news is that, unlike some other green cards and visas, EB-1 does not require you to have an employer in the U.S. You are only expected to pursue work in your area of expertise (business) without having any specific offer of employment.
Additionally, no test of the labor market is required for an EB-1 green card. In other words, you don’t need to prove that there are no qualified U.S. workers who can do your job.
Finally, EB-1 green cards are permanent green cards, not conditional ones, which means that you won’t have to file any paperwork with the immigration services to keep your Legal Permanent Resident status. Your card will be valid for 10 years. You can renew it and you can even apply for U.S. citizenship after 5 years, in most cases.
How Can You Qualify for an EB-1 Green Card?
You need to show “sustained national or international acclaim” and that your achievements have been recognized in your field of work. “Sustained” acclaim must be “maintained” which means that you can’t rely on achievements that happened years ago because it would not be considered sufficient anymore. However, there is no age limit and no definite time frame for proving sustained acclaim. Evidence for this could be a universally recognized one-time award that received major media coverage, something comparable to a Nobel Prize, a Grammys or an Oscars.
But not everyone has a couple of Oscars and Grammys collecting dust on their shelves. Does this mean you can’t apply for an EB-1 green card? Absolutely not! What you can do instead is provide evidence for at least three (3) of the ten (10) items listed below:
Receipt of lesser nationally or internationally recognized prizes or awards;
Membership in an association in the field for which classification is sought which requires outstanding achievement of their members, as judged by recognized national or international experts;
Published material about the person in professional or major trade publications or other major media;
Participation as a judge of the work of others;
Evidence of original scientific, scholastic, artistic, athletic, or business-related contributions of major significance;
Authorship of scholarly articles in the field;
Artistic exhibitions or showcases;
Performance in a leading or critical role for organizations or establishments that have a distinguished reputation;
High salary or remuneration in relation to others in the field.;
Commercial success in the performing arts.
So if you provide evidence in at least three (3) categories from the list above, it means you are definitely qualified? Not so fast! The immigration service will still have to conduct a “final merits determination.” It's when they look at all the evidence together to determine whether you are one of that very small percentage of individuals who have risen to the very top of your field and have sustained national or international acclaim.
Other Green Card Options for Business Owners
If meeting the requirements for an EB-1 green card, such as documenting your achievements, is too complicated or impossible in your case, you can have a look at other green card categories, such as the Second Preference (EB-2) category or, potentially, investor green cards (EB-5) category.
At InterlinkLaw, we provide assistance and advice related to choosing the most appropriate green card category that enables you and your family to reside permanently in the United States. We routinely prepare and file applications for employment- or family-based green cards along with other categories of U.S. permanent resident cards. Book an online consultation today.