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Author: ignacio

The Path to a Green Card: Adjusting Status from H-1B Visa to Green Card

Adjusting status from an H-1B Visa to a Green Card is a path commonly pursued by foreign professionals seeking to establish permanent residency in the United States. However, it is a complex process filled with challenges. Here, we detail the process and offer the best solutions.

The H-1B Work Visa is one of the most popular visas for those looking to develop their careers in the U.S. It demonstrates that the applicant has completed extensive education and training, allowing them to work for a specific period and for a designated employer within the U.S.

This type of visa is initially granted for three years and can be renewed for an additional three years, with a maximum duration of six years. After this period, the country provides a grace period of only ten days for professionals to finalize their return to their home countries.

Many decide to seek paths to obtain Permanent Residency to extend their stay and work opportunities indefinitely. Achieving this goal can be a true challenge due to the numerous procedures required and the time needed to complete them.

What is the H-1B to Green Card Process?

Although the H-1B is initially a non-immigrant visa, it is also a dual-intent visa, meaning that holders can change their minds and decide to stay permanently in the U.S. by starting the employment-based Green Card process.

Obtaining a U.S. Green Card from an H-1B visa involves adjusting status from H-1B to an employment-based Green Card. There are also other types of Green Cards, including:

  • Family-Based Green Card
  • Diversity Visa Green Card
  • Extraordinary Ability Green Card
  • National Interest Waiver Green Card
  • Political Asylum Green Card
  • Adoption-Based Green Card
  • Refugee Green Card

This process is usually very complex and requires rigorous planning, as well as a clear understanding of the phases involved to carry them out successfully.

Process for Obtaining a Green Card from an H-1B Visa

As analyzed so far, foreign professionals with an H-1B Visa can aspire to a Green Card for permanent residency. Eligibility for a Green Card often depends on the employment category.

Green Card eligibility is often based on employment category. Either an employer or the applicant can initiate the process, with categories ranging from priority workers to professionals with exceptional skills.

PERM (Labor Certification) Process

In the early 21st century, the U.S. introduced the Labor Certification Process to facilitate employment-based Green Card applicants. The PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) system is linked to the Department of Labor (DOL). It is electronic, reducing application time and paperwork.

Most categories require a PERM application, demonstrating that no qualified and available U.S. workers exist for the position.

This is a complex process involving the posting of a job advertisement for 60 days, during which a qualified U.S. applicant must be hired over the foreign professional if they meet the requirements. This law ensures that hiring a foreign worker does not negatively impact local employment.

Filing the I-140 Petition

If the labor certification is successful, the next step is to file the I-140 Petition with USCIS. This form confirms the applicant’s eligibility for a Green Card in a specific employment category.

Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing

Once the I-140 Petition is approved, the foreign worker can adjust their status if they are already in the U.S. If they are outside the country, they must undergo consular processing to obtain the Green Card.

Associated Costs and Financial Strategies

Entering the H-1B and Green Card process involves costs. In addition to government fees, applicants should consider legal fees and potential costs related to labor certification. Financial strategies, such as negotiating expenses with the employer and tax planning, can help mitigate the economic impact.

Alternatives and Backup Strategies

While the H-1B Visa is a popular option, other pathways exist to work in the U.S., such as the O-1 Visa for individuals with extraordinary abilities or the L-1 Visa for intracompany transferees. However, most paths involve long, complex, and costly processes, so proper planning and professional consultation are essential.

EB-5 Federal Immigration Program: The best solution to Green Card delays

Although transitioning from an H-1B to a Green Card is a common goal, the path is long and filled with obstacles. Some professionals prefer faster and more direct solutions, such as the EB-5 Program.

Created by the U.S. Congress to stimulate the local economy through foreign investment, the EB-5 Program offers investors worldwide the opportunity to move to the U.S. with a Green Card. Unlike other programs, the EB-5 provides a direct path to a Green Card without intermediate steps like labor certification and specific employer petitions.

H-1B visa holders can bypass common obstacles in the traditional process and expedite their path to permanent residency. This program allows foreign investors to obtain a Green Card by investing in U.S. commercial projects that create jobs. Although it requires substantial investment, this path offers a faster and more predictable route to permanent residency, avoiding some obstacles associated with transitioning from an H-1B Visa.

In conclusion, the EB-5 investment is a strategic alternative, expediting much of the slow process of achieving Permanent Residency from an H-1B Work Visa.

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