The H-1B visa program offers foreign professionals a remarkable opportunity to work in the United States, but many individuals on H-1B visas also have their sights set on a more permanent status in the country: obtaining a U.S. green card. In this article, we will explore the possibility of your employer sponsoring you for a green card while on an H-1B visa and how the H-1B visa status can impact your green card application.
Can My Employer Sponsor Me for a Green Card While on an H-1B Visa?
The short answer is yes, your employer can sponsor you for a green card while you are on an H-1B visa. In fact, many H-1B visa holders pursue this path to secure permanent residency in the United States.
Understanding Employer Sponsorship for a Green Card:
– PERM Labor Certification: The first step in the green card sponsorship process typically involves your employer obtaining a PERM Labor Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This process involves demonstrating that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position you hold.
– Employer Petition (I-140): Once the PERM Labor Certification is approved, your employer will file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). This petition is specific to your employment-based green card category.
– Priority Date: The filing of the I-140 petition establishes your “priority date,” which is crucial for tracking your progress in the green card process. Priority dates are used to determine when an immigrant visa (green card) number becomes available to you.
– Adjustment of Status (I-485) or Consular Processing: Depending on your visa status at the time, you may either file an Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) if you are in the United States or go through consular processing if you are outside the U.S. These steps are taken when your priority date becomes current, and a visa number is available.
How Does the H-1B Visa Affect My Green Card Application?
The H-1B visa can significantly impact your green card application process in several ways:
– Dual Intent: One advantage of the H-1B visa is that it allows for “dual intent.” This means that you can maintain H-1B status while pursuing permanent residency, even though many other nonimmigrant visa categories do not allow this.
– Extensions and Continued Employment: As long as your H-1B visa remains valid, you can continue to work for your sponsoring employer while your green card application is pending. This provides job stability during the process.
– Dependents: Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old may also be eligible to apply for green cards as derivatives of your application.
– Travel Considerations: While your green card application is pending, international travel may require additional considerations, such as obtaining advance parole to re-enter the U.S. without jeopardizing your application.
It’s important to note that green card sponsorship processes can be complex and subject to change in immigration policies. Therefore, seeking guidance from experienced immigration attorneys is advisable to ensure a smooth transition from H-1B visa status to permanent residency.
At Jeelani Law Firm, we specialize in immigration law and have a wealth of experience assisting individuals on H-1B visas in their journey towards U.S. permanent residency. Contact us today to explore your green card options and make informed decisions about your future in the United States.