Every year, hundreds of foreign nationals seeking temporary entry in the U.S. for employment in specialty occupation applies for the H-1B employment visa. It is a non-immigrant visa that allows U.S. companies to offer employment to workers in different specialty occupations.
However, this is a temporary visa that is provided for a maximum of 6 years. But good news! At the end of the visa period, an H-1B holder who wants to stay and work in the U.S. may apply for a Green Card. If you are currently working in the United States under the H-1B visa and want to become a U.S. citizen, naturalization by being a Green Card holder can be the best option.
So, if you are ready to make the transition from an H-1B visa to Green Card, here is a complete guide that will take you through the process, steps and timeline. Let’s get started.
Can H-1B Visa Holders Apply for Green Card?
H-1B is a dual intent visa. Any H-1B employment visa holder is eligible for U.S. citizenship or permanent residency in the United States by getting a Green Card. If you are planning to stay and work in the U.S. permanently, start applying for a Green Card before your H-1B visa expires.
However, the process to get a Green Card for employment-based immigrants can be complex. Seeking expert consultation from an immigration law firm can help you with the entire process.
When Should I Apply for a Green Card?
As an H-1B visa holder, the best time to apply for a Green Card is when your U.S. employer can sponsor you. Typically, your employer will be ready to sponsor you after 2-3 years of having the H-1B visa and working with them. The process may take somewhere between 6 and 18 months and it is advised to start early. Never apply for a Green Card when your H-1B employment visa is about to expire as the process can get more complex and time-consuming.
H-1B Employment Visa to Green Card: Steps To Follow
The steps to apply for a Green Card from being an H-1B visa holder are discussed herewith:
Step 1: Find a Qualified U.S. Employer Who Can Sponsor You For the Green Card
You might be holding an H-1B employment visa or an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) that allows you to work in the United States irrespective of your immigration status or citizenship. Still, it is important to apply for a Green Card to get permanent residency in the country or U.S. citizenship. For this, you’d require a qualified U.S. company to sponsor you, especially if you are an H-1B holder.
Typically, you can have your current employer or any qualified company you are seeking a job file a petition for a Green Card. The process to get a Green Card becomes simpler and hassle-free when you have already worked with a qualified U.S. employer for a few years and is now ready to sponsor you for a permanent job role through U.S. citizenship or permanent residency.
It is important to know here that only a U.S. employer can sponsor you for an employment-based Green Card. The employer must fulfill certain criteria before they could file the petition. On the other hand, not all H-1B employment visa holders meet the eligibility for “Adjustment of Status” to get a Green Card.
Step 2: PERM Labor Certification to be Filed by the Employer
Next, your employer should obtain a PERM Labor Certification. It is to be submitted to the U.S. Department of Labor stating that there is no jobless U.S. resident who is available, qualified or willing to do the job. The certification also validates that no U.S. employees’ wages are being affected when you take the job. An ETA 9089 form must also be filed.
Step 3: Form I-140 Petition
When the PERM gets approved, the employer must file an I-140 Immigration Petition for Alien Worker. It validates the employer is in good financial shape and can pay wages for the job position. The form must be submitted along with PERM Labor Certification and a processing fee.
Step 4: Submit a Form I-485
The date on which USCIS receives your petition is your priority date. Submit Form I-485 to file your Adjustment of Status or permanent residency petition. If the petition gets approved, you can become a Green Cardholder.
Employers are also required to pay the fees when submitting Form I-140 to the USCIS.
Onal Gallant and Partners PC is a law office specializing in Real Estate Law, Intellectual Property, Corporate and Business Law, Immigration Law, and the US Visa Processes. We deliver reliable advice in a large variety of subjects ranging from forming a corporation, and buying a house in the US to trademark registration and Green Card applications (e.g., EB3 Visa or DV Lottery). With exceptional knowledge and insight into immigration law, our experienced lawyers at Onal Gallant and Partners PC are ready to help and respond to all of your inquiries.
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