In general, a US employer that wishes to hire a foreign worker on a permanent basis must obtain a permanent labor certification from the US Department of Labor (DOL) before US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) can issue a green card. There are few exceptions to this requirement, commonly referred to as the “Schedule A” professions—including professional nurses, physical therapists, and immigrants of exceptional ability in the sciences and arts.
What are the “Schedule A” professions?
For certain occupations, DOL has predetermined that there are not sufficient US workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available. These occupations are referred to as Schedule “A” occupations, and the process to satisfy the permanent labor certification requirement is referred to as “blanket” labor certification. DOL has predetermined that the wages and working conditions of US workers similarly employed will not be adversely affected by the employment of noncitizens in those occupations.
Because of the occupational shortage of these US workers, DOL has “pre-certified” Schedule A occupations. This means that an employer who wishes to hire a person for a Schedule A occupation is not required to conduct a test of the labor market and apply for a permanent labor certification with DOL. Rather, this employer must apply for Schedule A designation by submitting an application for permanent labor certification to USCIS in conjunction with the petition.
The following occupations comprise Schedule A:
- Group I: Physical therapists and professional nurses.
- Group II: Immigrants of exceptional ability in the sciences and arts. This includes college and university teachers, as well as immigrants of exceptional ability in the performing arts.
An alien may not self-petition for Schedule A designation. Each request requires a job offer and a petition that includes a request for such designation filed by a US employer.
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