Generally, the first step in obtaining permanent residence (“green card”) on behalf of a foreign worker is labor certification. Labor certification is the process of proving that there are no qualified U.S. workers for the position being offered to the foreign worker. Indeed, labor certification’s stated goal is to “protect U.S. workers and the U.S. labor market by ensuring that foreign workers seeking immigrant visa classifications are not displacing equally qualified U.S. workers.”
The Department of Labor (DOL), however, recognizes that there is a shortage of available U.S. workers in certain occupations and that it would be inappropriate to test the labor market for these occupations. These occupations are referred to as ‘Schedule A’ occupations and are ‘pre-certified’. Thus, although a labor certification application must be filed with the USCIS (not DOL), these occupations are exempted from the labor certification process.
Schedule A consists of two groups as follows:
- Group I. Professional nurses and physical therapists.
- Group II. Persons of exceptional ability in the sciences, arts and performing arts.