When a person desires a U.S. green card, their options for seeking one vary based on their situation. Some individuals are able to self-petition for a green card. Others can only seek a green card through being sponsored by someone else.
One way green cards can be obtained is in relation to employment. For most employment-based green cards, a worker cannot petition for the green card on their own, but rather have to be sponsored by an employer. However, there are some exceptions to this rule.
One group of individuals that is allowed to self-petition for an employment-based green card are individuals who fall under the extraordinary ability category. This category covers certain individuals in athletics, business, education, arts and the sciences. There are strict rules regarding who falls under this category.
Individuals who have received a National Interest Waiver are also able to petition on their own for an employment-based green card without the sponsorship of an employer.
As this illustrates, different circumstances can lead to very different requirements when it comes to petitioning for an employment-based green card. Immigration lawyers can help individuals who are looking into getting an employment-based green card understand what category they fall under, such as whether they would be considered an individual with extraordinary ability or qualify for a National Interest Waiver. Such attorneys can also provide individuals with explanations and guidance on the meaning of particular category they fall into and what the process would be for them to seek out an employment-based green card.
Source: U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, "Green Card Through Self Petition," Accessed Dec. 15, 2015