Legal Guide

Immigration Law: Employment Based Vs. Family Based Green Cards

Immigration to the United States takes form in several different methods. The two most commonly used are Employment based and Family based Green Cards. Each offers their specific contribution to immigration as whole and the US economy. With one basic goal to promote domestic family life and at the same time filling labor shortages within the USA.
For the last 50+ years these two immigration methods have been a majority of applicants to the USA. Naturally, employment based immigration is based on acquired skills and education of the immigrant and what the domestic labor force currently is lacking. This includes but is not limited to specialist like engineers, doctors, and PHD holders. At the other end of the spectrum are the low skilled workers like in agriculture or manual labor. This is due to the situation that most American workers are somewhere in the middle, neither very high skilled or very low skilled. The easiest correction for this situation is to import labor via the employment based system. The system can be difficult because the perspective immigrant must be sponsored by the US company prior to immigration and must show what unique contribution these workers can make to the company, or why his/her skills are needed. While the application process is somewhat lengthy, most of the responsibility falls on the employer.

The second option for legal US immigration is family based. This option is supposed to represent the moral commitment of keeping family life a priority and united. Under this system, a US person can sponsor immediate family members for US immigration. The preference goes as follows: unmarried children and spouses, older children or married children, and siblings. This system is supposed to allow for a strong home life and support structure which can increase success in the professional life. The waiting time for this process can be a few years and significantly more for family who is not immediate. Studies have shown that family members who comes through the family based green card program tend to move up the socio-economic ladder. Furthermore, they tend to have higher levels of self-employment and earning potential.

These two systems are not necessarily exclusive. For example, if there wasn’t an option to bring over immediate family members, then possibly many high skilled workers would not want to search for employment in the USA. To maintain a constant flow of skilled and desirable immigration a delicate balance of the efficient green card system is necessary. The immigration legal systemcan be very complicated and it is always advisable to work with an attorney when trying to obtain a family or employment based green card.

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