An immigrant is a foreign national who has been authorized to live and work permanently in the United States. If you want to become an immigrant based on the fact that you have a permanent employment opportunity in the United States, or if you are an employer that wants to sponsor someone for lawful permanent residency based on permanent employment in the United States, you must go through a multi-step process.
First, foreign nationals and employers must determine if the foreign national is eligible for lawful permanent residency under one of USCIS' paths to lawful permanent residency.
Second, most employment categories require that the U.S. employer complete a labor certification request (Form ETA 750) for the applicant, and submit it to the Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration. Labor must either grant or deny the certification request. Qualified alien physicians who will practice medicine in an area of the United States which has been certified as underserved by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services are relieved from this requirement.
Third, USCIS must approve an immigrant visa petition, Form I-140, Petition for Alien Worker, for the person wishing to immigrate to the United States. The employer wishing to bring the applicant to the United States to work permanently files this petition. However, if a Department of Labor certification is needed the application can only be filed after the certification is granted. The employer acts as the sponsor (or petitioner) for the applicant (or beneficiary) who wants to live and work on a permanent basis in the United States.
Fourth, the State Department must give the applicant an immigrant visa number, even if the applicant is already in the United States. When the applicant receives an immigrant visa number, it means that an immigrant visa has been assigned to the applicant. You can check the status of a visa number in the Department of State's Visa Bulletin.
Fifth, if the applicant is already in the United States, he or she must apply to adjust to permanent resident status after a visa number becomes available. If the applicant is outside the United States when an immigrant visa number becomes available, he or she will be notified and must complete the process at his or her local U.S. consulate office.
There are four categories for granting permanent residence to foreign nationals based upon employment:
EB-1 Priority workers
Foreign nationals of extraordinary ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics
Foreign national that are outstanding professors or researchers
Foreign nationals that are managers and executives subject to international transfer to the United States
EB-2 Professionals with advanced degrees or persons with exceptional ability
Foreign nationals of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business
Foreign nationals that are advanced degree professionals
Qualified alien physicians who will practice medicine in an area of the U.S. which is underserved. Read more about this particular program.
EB-3 Skilled or professional workers
Foreign national professionals with bachelor's degrees (not qualifying for a higher preference category)
Foreign national skilled workers (minimum two years training and experience)
Foreign national unskilled workers
EB-4 Special Immigrants
Foreign national religious workers
Employees and former employees of the U.S. Government abroad