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EB green cards often go to family members and not skilled workers

On Behalf of | Feb 13, 2024 | Immigration

Green cards provide permanent residence to individuals who wish to live and work legally in the United States. Employment-based green cards are awarded to skilled workers and their family members, but only 140,000 of them are issued each year. About 55% of EB green cards are awarded to the family members of skilled workers, which is something that some immigration advocacy groups would like to change. This is because every EB green card awarded to family members reduces the number of EB green cards that can be issued to skilled workers.

EB green card categories

There are five types of EB green cards. EB-1 green cards are awarded to professors, workers and researchers with extraordinary ability. Workers with advanced degrees or exceptional abilities in science, art or business are awarded EB-2 green cards. Skilled workers or professionals are issued with EB-3 green cards, and religious workers, broadcasters and certain foreign U.S. government workers receive EB-4 green cards. EB-5 green cards are reserved for investors.

Employment-based visas

Many of the skilled workers who are awarded EB green cards each year are already living and working legally in the United States. These workers adjust their immigration status from employment visas like the H1-B to permanent residency. In 2022, 82% of the EB green cards issued were awarded to these workers and their family members. If these workers and family members were exempted from the annual EB green card cap, American companies would be able to hire far more skilled foreign workers.

Keeping American companies competitive

Employment-based visas and green cards allow American companies to hire skilled foreign workers, but they are subject to strict annual caps. EB green cards can help employers to remain competitive in fierce global markets, but most of them are issued to family members who accompany skilled workers to the United States. This is why immigration advocacy groups have called for changes to be made to the EB green card allocation process.