We work with many employers and H-1B employees going through the green process - specifically from H-1B status to permanent residency. It can be tricky and expensive.
As long as you hold a valid H-1B, then you’re eligible to adjust your status.
There are three stages: (1) Obtain PERM Labor Certification; (2) File an I-140 Immigration Petition; and (3) File an I-485 (Adjustment of Status - Green Card Application).
Here’s what happens at each stage:
1. File PERM Labor Certification (This part on average takes anywhere from 1 to 1 ½ years to complete):
- Your company needs to engage an immigration attorney to start the process.Your job description needs to be drafted.
- A Prevailing Wage determination request needs to be submitted to the US Department of Labor (DOL).
- The position needs to be advertised and active recruiting needs to be activated.Assuming no US workers qualify for the position, a PERM Labor Certification application is filed with the DOL.
- The DOL processes and issues the Labor Certification.
2. File I-140 Immigration Application:
- After receiving the LCA, the I-140 is ready to be filed.
- Your credentials are verified for the job and you’re paid the specified wages.
- If your I-485 is approved, your H-1B can be extended for an additional 3 years (over the 6 year normal maximum period).
3. File I-485 Adjustment of Status:
- After your I-140 application is approved, you can file the I-485 for an Adjust of Status.
- The number of visas available depend on your priority date (the date the PERM/LCA was filed), your country of birth, and the classification of your employment.
You can access a wealth of additional information at the USCIS site.
Two important points: (1) It normally takes several years to process - from beginning to end; and (2) there’s more than just a process - following rules and filing forms and documents - involved.
When you’re seeking a Green Card, there are important legal strategies that a knowledgeable immigration attorney can help you with. Important considerations about how and when to file certain items can affect the length of processing and even ultimate approval.