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Guide To Get A Green Card Through The H1-B Status

Guide To Get A Green Card Through The H1-B Status

There are several steps in the H1-B to green card transition process. It is important to understand immigration law, eligibility criteria, and the paperwork you will need to complete the process. One of the main reasons the H1-B to green card transition is possible is that H1-B visas are dual-intent visas, allowing you to work up to a permanent residency based on employment.

A green card is a permanent resident card issued by the United States government. It is also a legal requirement if you plan to become a naturalized American citizen. Regardless of whether you want to become a US citizen, a green card is your best option to stay in the US after completing your 6-year H1-B visa period.

The H1-B visa does not, on its own, create a pathway to green card permanent resident status in the US. In other words, a green card is only granted to a foreign national who meets certain criteria. While the employment-based pathway is what we typically think of when we think of H1-B visas, there are several different pathways to move from H1-B to green card status.

Read on to learn more about the H1-B green card process in the US.

Overview of the H1-B status

H1-B visas are the most common non-immigrant visas for employment in the United States. It indicates that the visa holder has a highly sought-after occupation in the United States and has completed a comprehensive education and training program. H1-B visa holders are allowed to stay in the United States for a maximum period of six years.

After six years, the visa holder must return to their country of origin. The United States grants a 10-day grace period after the expiration of the visa for employees to arrange their return or to extend their stay. This status allows foreign nationals to work in the United States temporarily.

This visa shows that you have completed the necessary education and training and are working in a well-deserved job. The H1-B visa application Process includes an application form and an interview. You can’t apply for H1-B visas on your own. The company that wants to hire you must apply for the visa on your behalf.

The H1-B visa requirements include:

  • A valid original passport.
  • One photograph.
  • An appointment letter.
  • The fee payment receipt.

The H1-B visa is valid for 3 years. It can be extended for an additional 3 years.

Reasons to move from H1-B to a green card

Green card holders can work and live legally in the United States without additional work permits. The green card proves that you are a permanent resident of the United States, such as when you are looking for employment in the United States.

US permanent residence allows you to travel freely within the United States. The only limitation is that if you leave the United States for more than 6 months, you risk losing your status as a permanent resident.

After 5 years of holding a green card, you may apply for US citizenship. You can also sponsor a relative to hold a green card if the relative meets the eligibility criteria. However, the green card application process is lengthy and involves several steps, with no guarantee of success.

So, if you want to move from an H1-B to a green card status, you need to plan carefully to ensure you follow the right timing and process to avoid problems or even a rejected application.

Rules on H1-B status expiration

Generally, H1-B visas are issued for a six-year period. The expiration date will be indicated on form I-94. You can change this date if you continue to work for the same sponsor. If you don’t act to maintain your legal status, you must leave the US. To stay in the US, you will have to apply for either an H1-B renewal or a green card.

You will also need to know the visa expiration rules. Since green card applications can take months (or sometimes years) to complete, an H1-B visa holder should make sure they understand the impact of their visa expiration date on their legal status while making a green card application.

You can maintain your current status if your H1-B visa has expired and your green card application is pending. For example, you can maintain your legal status if your I-140 petition is approved and you are waiting for your priority date. It is ideal to talk with an immigration lawyer, though.

The green card pathway for H1-B visa holders

The majority of H1-B visa holders get a green card through employment. Employment-based green cards, as the name implies, are issued on the petition of an American employer willing to sponsor an H1-B employee for permanent residence. Sponsoring an employee in the employment-based green card process is expensive.

As a result, these highly sought-after visas are usually for highly educated employees with skills not readily available in the domestic labor market.

The application process

The process to move from H1-B to a green card status is as follows:

1. Get an American employer sponsor.

First, you will need to find an employer who will sponsor you for your green card. This will bring you under the employment-based green card category. Most US employment-based green cards are sponsored by an employer, whether your current employer or another.

Certain criteria must be met before an employer can sponsor an employee’s green card application. If your current employer does not meet these requirements, you may have to resign before you can begin your application. Also, not every H1-B position is eligible for green card adjustment.

Therefore, you may also have to resign or take on more demanding roles to acquire the necessary work experience for your green card selection from the available employment-based categories.

2. PERM labor certification.

After that, your employer will need to get a PERM labor certification. The prevailing wage will then be determined. This will be the wages to be paid out later. You will also need to go through an extensive hiring process for the job you will be filling to ensure there aren’t any US workers on the job. Finally, there will be a need to file an ETA 9089 form.

In other words, this process certifies the amount of your salary and benefits. It will also review the hiring process to ensure no US workers are available for the same job.

The average processing time for a PERM labor certification is 4 to 6 months. However, you can expedite the process for an extra fee for those concerned about quickly moving from H1-B to green card status.

3. The I-140 petition.

Once US employers have the PERM labor certification, they will need to file an I-140 petition. On this petition form, the employer has to certify that they are financially solvent, which is required to prove that they can pay the wage for the job. The petition must be submitted along with the approved labor certification for the job and the filing fee.

Once the USCIS has approved this petition, a Notice of Approval will be received. This means you can proceed to the next step in the H1-B to green card application process. An approved petition does not mean your status has changed from a non-immigrant to an immigrant. You will have to wait until you complete the entire process.

4. Wait for your priority date to become current.

Your priority date is the date the USCIS approves the I-140 petition. You must wait for this date to become current before proceeding to the next step. Please refer to our latest visa bulletin for more information on current dates.

5. Adjustment of status.

When your priority date becomes current, you will have to submit an I-485 form to the USCIS to request an adjustment of status. The I-485 form is submitted to the USCIS. The employee will be allowed to work and live in the United States as a legal resident if approved. There are two options for filing an adjustment of status.

If the employee is within the United States, they can file only I-485 without going through any other process. The only restriction is that they must apply while they have a valid H1-B visa. If their visa expires, they will need to return to their country of origin.

The only exception is if the employee is approved for an I-140, but their date isn’t current. In that case, they will be granted an unlimited extension until the process is completed. If the employee is located outside the United States, they will be subject to the consular processing process.

This process involves the employee applying for the status adjustment through the US embassy at the employee’s location. After completing all the steps, regardless of whether the applicant resides in the United States or abroad, the USCIS will validate the documents and notify you of its decision.

If the application is accepted, you will receive a green card stamp in your passport and a physical green card later. You have successfully migrated from H1-B to a green card status in the United States.

The timeline

The time it takes to move from H1-B to green card status varies greatly depending on the employment visa and the country of origin. There are usually annual limits on the number of immigrant visas and per-country limits that can increase or decrease the length of the wait.

Employment-based green card timelines can range from a few months to a few years. Only those with unlimited visa categories can realistically adjust their status within one year. Those with annual limits will need to monitor the visa bulletin to ensure their priority date becomes current.

H1-B to a green card status through marriage

While working in the US as an H1-B visa holder, finding another way to obtain a green card is not unusual. One of these ways is marriage to an American citizen. In such a case, you don’t need an employer as a green card sponsor. This is because your spouse can petition through family-based systems.

Spouses are in the category of “immediate relatives.” There are several advantages to this category. If you are the spouse of an American citizen, you are not in the category of inadmissible immediate relatives. Similarly, if you have overstayed your visa or accepted unauthorized employment, you are not considered an inadmissible immediate relative.

For those in the green process, the wait time will likely be several years. But those waiting for the “immediate relative” process can usually adjust their status within about one year. Instead of filing the I-485 petition based on the I-140 petition, you can file the I-485 at the same time as your family-based petition.

Talk with an immigration lawyer to learn more about family adjustment of status. You can also obtain permanent residence by marrying a green cardholder. However, if an immigrant visa is not immediately available, you won’t be able to adjust your status.

Instead, if you can’t maintain your status as an H1-B visa holder, you may need to undergo consular processing.

Other options

In addition to the marriage pathway, there are other family categories that allow you to move from H1-B to a green card status in the United States. For a complete list of family relationships, speak to an immigration lawyer about the immediate relative and family preference categories.

H1-B visa holders can also change their status by applying for the DV lottery, an asylum status, or a U visa.

Get help!

The entire H1-B to green card status transition process is time-consuming and complicated. At Gehi and Associates, we can guide you through every step, from filing the necessary paperwork to interacting with the relevant authorities. Contact us today for more information on green card applications!

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