USCIS Broadens Green Card Eligibility for STEM Professionals

Here at Berd & Klauss, PLLC, our role as a New York green card lawyer equips us to assist employers in hiring foreign nationals for their businesses or organizations. We guide them through the legal requirements and ensure that they make informed decisions to minimize risks when hiring skilled or specialized workers. If you are a US employer interested in hiring STEM professionals, we have encouraging news: You can now directly sponsor them for green cards and bypass the complex and time-consuming PERM process.

This is a significant development that should simplify hiring these professionals for your organization or business. However, to ensure compliance and avoid potential issues, it’s crucial to understand the details of this change. Keep reading for all the important details you need to know about green card eligibility for STEM professionals.

A policy update

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently streamlined green card processing for certain individuals in STEM fields with exceptional ability. This update clarifies the fields eligible under Schedule A, Group II. Previously, only traditional “science” fields qualified. Now, the definition of “art or science” has been broadened to encompass any field where colleges and universities commonly offer degree programs.

The changes

This policy update defines science or art as any field where universities and colleges commonly offer degrees. This means more STEM professionals may now qualify for the Schedule A process to streamline their green card processing.

Before this policy update, STEM professionals had to go through the permanent labor certification (PERM) process. This process was overseen by the US Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA). Its goal was to ensure that hiring a foreign worker wouldn’t displace qualified US citizens. The ETA assessed whether recruiting non-citizens would negatively impact wages or working conditions for US workers in similar positions.

If you want to hire a non-US citizen, you must first get a PERM certification before petitioning for an employment-based visa to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services. After acquiring this certification, you can file USCIS Form I-140 (Immigration Petition for Alien Workers), and the USCIS will review your petition. Additionally, you had to submit a PERM application to the Department of Labor.

The previous process was lengthy and brought a lot of uncertainty to employers and prospective hires. In some cases, employers had to bring in a New York green card lawyer for assistance.

The policy update is expected to simplify the process and bring more opportunities to hire STEM professionals.

Who’s eligible?

Note that Schedule A, Group II is NOT a type of visa. It’s a means for STEM professionals with exceptional ability to acquire their permanent residency or green card. With the latest policy update, the following qualify for a green card:

  • Exceptional STEM talents: The high standards for ‘exceptional ability’ remain, so the employee must demonstrate international acclaim and recognition in their field.
  • Expanded field: STEM professionals with degrees in more STEM disciplines may qualify.

If you’re unsure whether a prospective employee qualifies, don’t hesitate to consult a New York green card lawyer here at Berd & Klauss, PLLC. We will look into your situation and provide the tailored advice you need to make informed choices. Additionally, we can help ensure your employee’s eligibility when necessary.

How to prove exceptional ability

As the employer, you must gather the necessary documentation as evidence to prove that your prospective employee meets at least 2 of these 7 criteria:

1. International recognition: Any form of recognition, including awards or prizes, from your field’s reputable international bodies.

2. Media coverage: Features or articles about them or their work in major media outlets or publications.

3. Membership in elite organizations: Show evidence that they are a member of exclusive professional organizations requiring high achievement levels for admission.

4. Judging expertise: Evidence of participating as a judge of others’ works in your field.

5. Publications: Published articles in well-known professional publications or international journals.

6. Significant research contributions: Documentation of their original research that significantly impacted your field.

7. Exhibitions: Documentation of their work exhibited, displayed, or showcased in many countries.

How the Schedule A, Group II process can benefit STEM professionals

  • Faster permanent residency processing: Schedule A speeds up green card processing because it’s less complicated than the PERM process. If you’re an employer, you can directly petition a qualified prospective employee for permanent residency on their behalf.
  • No US degree required: International employees don’t need to graduate from a US university or college to qualify.
  • More opportunities: This new policy will allow more talented STEM professionals to pursue permanent residency in the United States.

Need more information?

Our immigration law firm can address other concerns and more questions about green card eligibility for STEM professionals. Call 212-461-7152 to arrange a complimentary meeting with a New York green card lawyer from Berd & Klauss, PLLC.