You can go from H1B status to Legal Permanent Residence (green card holder) in the US. Though this is not possible with every type of non-immigrant visa, the H1B visa is a “dual intent visa.” Learn about other Green Cards that are available here. For many non-immigrant visa categories, you have to prove to the consulate abroad that you have non-immigrant intent meaning that your stay in the US is going to be for a temporary period of time. You have to prove that you do not intend to stay in the US permanently and have strong reasons for returning to your home country. You have to convince the consulate that you do not intend to set up a life in the US. As mentioned earlier, you can pursue permanent residence while in the US in H1B status. You can get a green card through family or through employer sponsorship.
Green Card Status – Family Based Green Cards
Under H1B status, you can apply for a green card based on familial relationships with US citizens. This process can occur while you are in the US in H1B status without impacting the H1B status negatively. You can adopt this method if you have a spouse who is a US citizen, a US citizen parent OR a child over age twenty-one who is a US citizen.
Green Card Status – Employment Based Green Cards
To get a green card under this classification, the US employer must offer the employee a permanent job in the US. The employer may be the same employer that sponsored the H-1B visa, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. Like the H-1B process, this green card process also requires the employer to file a certification with the Department of Labor prior to filing a petition with USCIS. The process of getting an employment based green card can often be very long. As a result of lengthy processing times, H-1B workers are allowed to extend their status past the six years normally allowed, but only if they have reached a certain stage in the green card process. There are three main steps in the employment-based green card process:
- Labor Certification
- Immigrant Petition
- Adjustment of Status Application (“Green Card” Application)
You are eligible for extensions of H1B status beyond the six-year limit in one-year increments if you are the beneficiary of a Labor Certification that has been pending for at least a year. If you are a H-1B beneficiary who has an approved I-140 Immigrant Petition, but waiting for a visa number to become available before filing for Adjustment of Status, you may get an extension of H-1B status beyond the six-year limit in three-year increments.
Changing from Another Status to H1B Status
If a future employee is already physically present in the US, he/she may apply for H-1B status without leaving the US provided that he/she entered the US legally, never worked in the US illegally, and is still in status. The employer should file a Labor Condition Application and a petition with the USCIS. The H-1B petition filed with USCIS can request a “Change of Status” for the future employee. Once this petition is approved, the employee will have H-1B status. If the employee wishes to leave the US after the change of status is approved, he/she will have to obtain an H-1B visa stamp at a consulate abroad before re-entering the US in H-1B status.
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