You must have a U.S. employer sponsor you for a green card. With the exception of the EB-1 (extraordinary ability), you cannot get a green card without a U.S. employer wiling to sponsor you.
Canadian citizens who are working for a U.S. employer on a valid work visa may adjust their status to a permanent resident if the employer files an employment-based petition. Employment-based petitions are broken down into five classifications: EB-1, EB-2, EB-3, EB-4 and EB-5. We will limit our discussion to EB-1, EB-2, EB-3 in this section. EB-5 green cards will be discussed at length under the Investor-Based Green Card section.
The wait time for employment-based green card petitions are based on Priority Dates as determined by the Department of State’s monthly Visa Bulletin. This is a method of cross-referencing a beneficiary’s country of birth and the employment-based category to determine whether a visa is currently available and, if not, how long the wait is. An individual born in Canada seeking an employment-based green card is generally in a better position compared to citizens of other countries, such as China, India, Mexico or the Philippines. This is because the priority dates for those born in Canada under an EB-1 and EB-2 visas are all “current.” This means that a visa is available for them immediately and that their petitions will not be backlogged. In fact, EB-3 is the only category that is backlogged for those born in Canada.
EB-1 Green Card
The EB-1 green card is reserved for an exclusive group of people, and it likely will not apply to 99% of all applicants. By definition, it applies to individuals of extraordinary ability in the arts, sciences, education, businesses or athletics; or outstanding professors or researchers. Only those in the very top of their respective field, as demonstrated through sustained national or international acclaim, will qualify for this green card. Unlike EB-2 and EB-3 green cards, the Canadian applicant does not need an employer to file a petition on his/her behalf.
So who are these individuals? There is no restriction with respect to education or profession. It can be anybody who is one of the very best at what they do: a Michelin-award winning chef, an Olympic medal-winning athlete, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, a Juno-award winning singer/songwriter, a published author, a renowned professor, or an Academy Award-winning actress.
EB-2 Green Card
The EB-2 green card is reserved for individuals of exceptional ability in the arts, sciences or business; individuals with advanced degrees (M.D., J.D., LLM, Ph.D. etc.); and foreign doctors who will practice in an underserved area in the U.S. Canadians who qualify for an EB-2 green card must have an employer who is willing to file a petition on his/her behalf. The process is extensive, and it is outlined in more detail in the For U.S. Employers: Employment-Based Green Cards section.
EB-3 Green Card
The EB-3 green card is reserved for skilled workers with two years training and experience; professionals with bachelor’s degrees; and other “unskilled” workers. As with the EB-2 green card, Canadians who qualify for an EB-3 green card must have an employer who is willing to file a petition on his/her behalf. See For U.S. Employers: Employment-Based Green Cards for more details.