Employer Green Card Trends to Watch in 2021

Last Updated on February 23, 2023

Employers continue to leverage green card sponsorship to attract and retain high-skilled foreign talent

Green cards continue to play an important role in foreign talent acquisition and retention for employers. Recent findings from Envoy’s 2021 Immigration Trends Report found that, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and an uncertain economic climate, employers sought to provide foreign national employees with the peace of mind and security associated with permanent residency.

Three employer green card trends from Envoy’s 2021 Immigration Trends Report

More employers are sponsoring foreign nationals for permanent residence

Amid increased immigration scrutiny and economic uncertainty created by the pandemic, more survey respondents said their company sponsored a foreign national for a green card than in previous years (74% in 2021 compared to 71% in 2020). In addition, nearly half of the employers we surveyed (46%) told us their organization began to offer green card sponsorship to employees in the last year, and 31% said they began sponsoring more green cards.

Has your company ever sponsored a foreign national for permanent residence (a green card)?


In what ways has your company changed its green card policy over the past year?

Most employers start the green card process before an employee’s first H-1B renewal 

The current government visa backlog and limited number of green cards available continues to lengthen the application process, with the backlog for employment-based green card applicants reaching 1.2 million in 2020—the highest ever. Against this backdrop, employers continue to start the green card process for foreign national employees early in their tenure: 58% of employers in our survey said they initiate the process within one year of service and 81% start it before an employee’s first H-1B renewal. In addition, 28% of employers said their organization began starting the process sooner in 2020. 

When does your company typically start the green card application process for your sponsored employees?

Employers are covering green card costswith stipulations

The green card application process involves many costs, some of which the employer must cover. Other associated costs can be passed along to foreign national employees. This year, 86% of employers said they cover all green card-related fees, up from 84% in last year’s report. Of this number, more than half (51%) said that they implement a contractual stipulation requiring employees to reimburse the costs if they depart the company within a certain time period. 

What green card costs does your company incur? 

Get more insights on employment-based green cards, U.S. immigration and more by downloading our full 2021 Immigration Trends Report 

Survey Methodology

The national survey was conducted online by Lucid from March 2nd to March 18, 2021, with 529 HR professionals and hiring managers participating across a variety of industries and company sizes. Each respondent is a U.S. resident, 21+ in age and involved in hiring decisions at their company. Their companies have experience in either the visa or green card application process and they are familiar with sourcing foreign nationals for employment. Questions covered internal and external global immigration processes and challenges. Questions relating to green cards were limited to the 390 respondents who indicated that they had direct experience handling them at their organization. Similarly, the international (outbound) immigration questions were limited to the 313 respondents who confirmed experience in that area.

Content in this publication is not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an Envoy-affiliated attorney or another qualified professional.