For those that are unaware, the H-1B visa is the most popular visa that is given out in the U.S. This is the case solely due to the fact that it allows recipients to reap various benefits. One of the largest benefits that many on this type of visa can uncover is the chance to obtain a green card.
Many visa options that are available to those living outside the country don’t offer the chance for applicants to obtain a green card. This is why the H-1B visa is such a great visa to obtain if the requirements are met. If you are on this type of visa and are wishing to adjust your status to a green card, continue reading on for more information.
What Is an H-1B Visa?
This type of visa is specifically designed for non-immigrants to come to the United States and work in skilled careers. For example, if you are someone that holds a high-level degree and has the qualifications needed, you are able to be selected for a skilled position in the United States.
Suppose you are accepted for this type of visa. In that case, you will be able to travel to the United States, rent a property, apply for a driver’s license, obtain a social security number, and renew this work permit for another three years. And, the best benefit of all, is the ability to apply for a green card.
What Is a Green Card?
A green card is a special permit that allows non-citizens to permanently live and work in the United States indefinitely. Green card holders are allowed to work long-term in the U.S. and live legally, without needing to constantly renew their permits.
Ultimately, green card holders get all the rights of a citizen of the United States; however, they are unable to vote. And, if things are done illegally, there is a chance of possible deportation.
When it comes to green cards there are three main types of green cards that one can obtain. The first category is family-based green cards, which are a great option for those that have family members within the U.S.
Employment-based green cards can be divided into the following categories. These categories we will dive more into detail in the sections below are various ways one can obtain an employment-based green card.
First Preference Immigrant Worker (EB1)
This type of employment-based green card category is for priority workers that demonstrate outstanding ability in a given field, have received recognition for their careers, or are an executive of a multinational company.
Second Preference Immigrant Worker (EB2)
The second preference category is set aside for foreign individuals who hold higher level, or advanced degrees that show exceptional ability. An advanced degree is generally classified as a bachelor’s degree with five years of work experience in that field.
Applicants must demonstrate exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, or business by providing evidence that they have worked at a higher level of knowledge or expertise than other workers in their field.
This can be demonstrated through a wide range of accomplishments, including prominent awards and memberships in professional associations related to their field.
Third Preference Immigrant Worker (EB3)
If you don’t fit into the above two categories, you will fall under this category. This category is for all skilled workers with at least two years of experience in the given career field. Additionally, your U.S. employer will need to show proof that there are no other qualified workers already in the United States.
In order to qualify for this category, similar to those above, one must have a bachelor’s degree or the foreign equivalent.
Fourth Preference Special Immigrants (EB4)
Every year, the United States allows 695 immigrants to enter the U.S. on an H-1B visa. In order to qualify for a visa under this subcategory, you must meet the following:
- Working in a religious field
- Working for the U.S. government
- Working, or previously have worked, as a translator in the U.S. military
Fifth Preference Investors (EB5)
This subcategory that some immigrants could fall into, is considered the investor class of applicants. Less than 3,000 visas are given out in this class because the requirements are very high.
First, one must demonstrate that they have the money to start a business in the U.S. and employ at least 10 people with full-time jobs. And, one must invest anywhere from $500,000 to one million dollars into the U.S. economy.
What Is the H1B to Green Card Process?
This process is an extensive one that requires dedication and countless fees. Below, we will list the process that one must undergo to adjust their H-1B visa status to a green card.
H1B Visa to Green Card Process Steps
When you have found an employer that wishes to sponsor you, there are given steps that you must follow to obtain an H-1B visa. Once you have been approved for your initial H-1B visa and enter the United States to work, you then have the opportunity to apply for a green card.
You must first find which category, that we have listed above, you fall into. When you have decided which you fit most into, you are able to apply for a green card with your employment sponsor. The steps we will go over below are the recommended steps to follow to adjust your status.
First things first, you must go through the PERM system. The PERM, which stands for program electronic review management system, is a system that’s linked with the Department of Labor. This system will allow employees that are in the country because of an H-1B visa, to file a form asking for permission to apply for a green card.
This PERM system will ask each applicant to follow the steps listed below:
- Registering with the department of labor
- Getting approval for wage determination
- Conducting the recruitment process
- Filing form 9089
- Obtaining the PERM decision which will allow or deny you from applying for a green card
Below we will go through the steps we listed above in more detail.
Registering With DOL
Above all, you must first register with the DOL. Registering with the department of labor will require you to accomplish the following things. First, you must get approval for prevailing wage determination. This means that your employer i’ll need to ensure that they are paying you the full wage set by the state.
When the certification for this is obtained, and cross-checked with the information found from the State Employment services, it can be filed in the DOL. Next, your employer will need to prove that they have tried to find other qualified candidates for the position you will be filling.
In order to prove this process was completed and done thoroughly, your employer must have placed two newspaper ads targeting the location where the job is located. Next, they must also have placed an advertisement for countrywide candidates. And, on top of these two things, your employer must be able to show that they conducted another recruitment process: visa job fairs, radio ads, or on campus.
After doing so, and collecting the proof of this, this information can be uploaded to the DOL. Next, you need to file ETA Form 9089. This form is an application for employment certification and can be filed by mail, or online.
This form basically proves that your employer and the company has met all the required qualifications to then seek the employment of a skilled worker abroad.
Obtaining the PERM Decision
After following the steps listed above, the department of labor officers will either approve or deny the PERM certification. Sometimes additional documents are required; however, a decision will likely be made within a matter of 45 to 60 days.
If your PERM is approved, you are then able to begin the adjustment of status process to obtain a green card from your H-1B visa. The steps you then must complete are listed in more detail below.
Submit Form I-140
Form I-140, which is commonly known as the Immigration Petition for Alien Worker form, must be submitted after you obtain your PERM certificate. When you have completed this form, you must submit it, and then you will receive a priority date.
WIth this priority date, you are unable to continue the process until your date is current.
Submit Form I-485
When the priority date from above arrives, you are then able to continue on with the green card process. The following step once arriving to the date you were given, is to file form I-485. This form is the Adjustment of Status of form, and must be completed and submitted.
H1B to Green Card Fees
When it comes to paying for your green card, the fees can range anywhere from $2,000 to $5,000. Your employer usually pays these fees. To break things down further, we will go over the individual fees for a green card.
The application fee for your I-140 form is $580, and the fee for Form I-485 is around $1,070. In most cases, your employer will pay for these fees, but it’s important that you also are aware of the fact you may need to shell out some cash for your green card in conjunction.
How Long Does It Take To Get a Green Card From H1B?
For H-1B holders, adjusting your status to a green card must be done within two years of employment sponsorship. When you have been on an H-1B visa for two years, you are then able to start thinking about adjusting your status and filing for a green card.
How Long Does a Green Card Last?
Generally, a green card will last for 10 years. The 10 years will be issued from the start date of your green card. However, the green card can be renewed as often as possible. It’s recommended that you start the green card renewal process around six months before your green card is set to expire.
Consequences of Delaying the Green Card Process
If you are delaying the green card process, you are setting yourself up for a long waiting process. Because the green card process takes such a large amount of time, the longer you wait to begin it, the longer it takes to get it approved and processed.
Additionally, your priority date as an applicant will play a large role in the processing time of your green card. Similar to the H-1B lottery, the U.S. government will only give out a certain number of green cards to H-1B visa applicants. This means that the longer you delay your green card process, the more issues you may have beginning the green card process.
When Does H1B Status Expire?
You can find your H-1B expiration date on the I-94 form that you got stamped upon entering the United States. These dates will vary based on the entering date. However, in the case where you have changed your status to an H-1B visa, after entering the U.S. under a different visa, you are able to check your USCIS documents to find your expiration date.
Regaining H1B Status After Your H-1B Expiration Date
If your visa has expired, there are a few options available to you. In some cases, you may be allowed to extend your status if you meet the following criteria. This criterion includes:
- Showing extraordinary circumstances that prevented you from filing the extension in a timely manner
- The application hasn’t violated any non-immigrant statuses or something that could be subject to deportation
Should I Get Health Insurance After I Receive My Green Card?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes. Even prior to having a green card, all visitors to the U.S. must have a basic level of health insurance. Having a basic level of health insurance will make injuries or illnesses easier to combat and can also mitigate insurance issues in the future.
Pending Green Card Application: Can I Keep Working?
So, let’s say your green card application is processed, are you able to work legally? The short answer is yes; you are able to work legally while waiting for your green card application. However, in order to do so, you must first obtain an EAD.
An EAD, which stands for an employment authorization document, works similarly to that of a work permit. You must first apply for this document, and once obtained, you are able to continue working while waiting for your green card application to be processed.
What Happens to H-4 Visa Holders?
If you hold H-4 visa status, you can legally live and study in the country. These visas are given out to spouses holding H-1B visas. And, by obtaining the H-4 visa as a dependent or spouse, you are able to apply for an EAD work permit and work and live legally in the U.S. with your spouse.
Start Your Green Card Process Today
The process of switching from one visa to another is a long and arduous one, but not impossible. However, it is critical that you pay very close attention to every single detail because missing something will mean starting over. This is why sometimes it helps to have a skilled team supporting you, and state-of-the-art immigration software.
If you have any questions about your application, or the process, consult our immigration lawyer today for best solutions. At ImmigrationDirect, we are with you every step of the way and believe in our innovative immigration software. Don’t hesitate; begin your process today!