How to immigrate to the United States without needing a job offer

Louanni Ribeiro
Victor Braga

The vast majority of applications for permanent residence in the United States, the famous Green Cards, are conditioned on the existence of a person or a company that offers employment to the permanent residence applicant. This means that professionals who intend to reside in the United States generally need a family or employment connection to meet the minimum criteria for application with the USCIS.

Exceptions to this rule exist in two types of applications commonly referred to as “skill-based applications,” in which Green Card applicants must demonstrate extraordinary abilities or exceptional skills within their fields of expertise. This demonstration is carried out according to specific criteria established by U.S. immigration law and is subject to discretionary review by immigration officers.

Application for Extraordinary Ability (EB1-A):

For this type of application, the applicant must prove that they are among the top 10% of the most qualified and renowned professionals in their field. This means that EB1-A eligible individuals need to demonstrate that, in addition to consistent performance in their professional field, they are influential figures in the market, acting as trendsetters and driving advancements. EB1-A applicants must provide solid documentation to prove at least three out of the ten criteria established by U.S. immigration law, which include:

  • Evidence of receiving awards of national or international recognition.
  • Evidence of participation in professional associations or organizations in the applicant’s field, where membership is based on the notability of members and their contributions to the field.
  • Evidence of published material about the applicant in media focused on their field or in other nationally or internationally relevant media outlets.
  • Evidence of leadership roles in organizations or companies of distinguished reputation in the applicant’s field and in the market as a whole.
  • Evidence of earning an above-average salary for professionals in their field or significantly high remuneration.
  • Evidence of being invited to judge the work of other professionals in their field, individually or on a panel.
  • Evidence of developing original products or methods that contributed to scientific, academic, artistic, athletic, or commercial advancement in their field.
  • Evidence of authorship of academic and/or scientific articles published in relevant publications.
  • Evidence of the applicant’s work being displayed in significant artistic exhibitions or showcases.
  • Evidence of commercial success in performing arts.

If you would like to learn more about applying for permanent residence in the United States through the EB1-A category, click here.

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Application for National Interest Waiver (EB2 NIW):

This type of application focuses on professionals with a high level of education or who have been working in their expertise area for a considerable amount of time (10 years or more). These professionals must also demonstrate that their presence in the United States would benefit the country by addressing a shortage in the American market or adding value to the U.S. For this type of petition, the applicant must prove that they either (i) hold a Master’s degree or higher (Ph.D. or postdoctoral), or (ii) satisfy three out of the six objective criteria stipulated by U.S. immigration law. Additionally, the applicant must fully meet the three subjective criteria established by the December 2016 DHANASAR case.

  • Regarding the objective criteria: If the individual does not hold a Master’s degree or higher (Ph.D. or postdoctoral), the objective criteria set by U.S. immigration law include:
  • A bachelor’s degree or higher degrees related to the applicant’s field of expertise.
    • Letters from current or former employers documenting at least 10 years of experience in the applicant’s field.
    • License or certification issued by a competent body to practice the applicant’s profession.
    • Proof of receiving a high salary compared to other professionals in the field or other relevant remuneration.
    • Membership in a professional association for professionals in the applicant’s field.
    • Recognition for significant achievements and contributions to the field from peers, government entities, professional or business organizations.
  • Regarding the subjective criteria: To prove that the applicant deserves an exemption from the job offer requirement for permanent residence in the U.S., the individual must propose to engage in a business or activity that meets the criteria established by the December 2016 DHANASAR case. These criteria aim to determine whether the activity the applicant intends to pursue in the U.S. is of such national interest that U.S. immigration authorities should waive the job offer requirement for this applicant. The activity to be undertaken by the individual must be capable of generating significant benefits to the American people and market. This point is assessed based on the following criteria:
  • The activity the applicant intends to undertake in the US holds substantial merit and is of national importance to the United States.
    • The applicant possesses the necessary qualifications to carry out the proposed endeavor, and this endeavor has the potential to thrive and achieve its goals in the US.
    • The endeavor proposed by the applicant will yield outcomes such that it justifies an exemption from the job offer requirement for permanent residence.

If you would like to learn more about applying for permanent residence in the United States through the EB2 NIW category, click here.

Given all that has been presented, it is evident that both Green Card categories are excellent solutions for professionals with well-established careers. Here at Drummond, we always affirm that there is an immigration solution for everyone, tailored to their unique circumstances. Therefore, even if the “skill-based applications” might not be the most suitable for your profile, we are confident that we can present you with various other immigration options. To learn more about the mentioned immigration categories or to explore the extensive range of immigration options, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. It would be our pleasure to assist you on this journey.

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