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How To Apply For A Green Card under EB-3 & EB-2 Category (most common for H-1B and E-3 visa holders)

If you are currently on an H-1B visa or E-3 visa and curious about what you have to do to get permanent residency (aka a Green Card) then we will try and document the process here for you.

If you are interested in the issues surrounding whether or not you are able to do it and what other visas can transfer to a Green Card, read the specific Green Card and visa posts as they discuss that in more detail. This post is designed to be strictly about the process.

Firstly let us show you the Green Card. The most thing to note is that it is not actually green and it is a plastic card issued to you by the USCIS.

You can read more in the Green Card information post about the EB-2 and EB-3 category of green cards. Essentially EB stands for employment based as this version of permanent residency requires the employer to file.

The EB-2 category is for Post Graduate degree holders like a Masters Degree or Bachelor Degree holders with 5+ years experience in the chosen specialty.

The EB-3 category is for Bachelor degree holders or those with enough work experience in the relevant specialty which was enough probably in the first place to get them their H-1B or E-3 visa without a Bachelors degree.

THE GREEN CARD PROCESS

Step 1: Labor Certification

Application  using Form ETA-750 submission via your employer to the Department of Labor.

During this Labor Certification procedure, your employer has to prove to the Department of Labor they were could not find a suitable person for the specific role you are in within the US. They will have to advertise for your position, and sometimes do interviews and other recruiting procedures to prove this under the DOL guidelines.

After this your employer can file an application with the DOL explaning they were unable to find both a suitably qualified and experienced candidate. As a result they wish to sponsor you for permanent residency as you have the relevant expertise.

This process can take many months to years to complete.

The cost of this process with the advertising of the role can obviously range greatly but a rough conservative figure may be $1,000 but if can differ greatly state by state and also with the different DOL offices.

Step 2: I-140 to USCIS & Adjustment of Status ( I-485)
These two can be filed in parallel but form I-485 wont be approved until after you I-140 is accepted
At this time you can also file for EAD ( Employment Authorization Document) and AP ( Advance Parol or Travel Document) , once you file for 485, you will be required to do fingerprinting.

Once your Labor Certificate is approved, your employer will file a Form I-140 -(know as Petition for Immigrant Worker) – on your behalf.

Employer should demonstrate that the company is in a good financial position to capable of paying the salary advertised for the job. For this purpose employer’s financial financial statement and corporate income tax return documents also required.

Also at this point a National Visa Number issued via the Department of State. The Adjustment of Status can only be filed once your Visa Number is available according to the Visa Bulletin released by the Department of State each month.

The applicant is given is granted against per year Quota/per country/per category. So people from China, India and Mexico and those from those countries with just Bachelor Degrees tend to have very long waits into many years before they can complete the process.

Another restriction at this stage is that a person applying for a green card needs to stick with the company, through which his/her green card is getting processed, till he gets his Green card. Otherwise he loses the process, and needs to apply for a fresh application from the beginning.

Spouse/Dependent applications can only be filed once the I-140 is approved for primary applicant.

The I-140 processing fee is constantly changing but is currently $500 for regular and $1,000 for premium processing.
The I-485 fee is $930 (includes work authorization EAD and Advnace Patrol Travel if filed at same time otherwise EAD is $340 and Advance Patrol is $305)
Additionally a $120 medical assessment paid to approved Doctor is required as well as $80 biometric fee.


It should be noted that these fees are multiplied when dependents like spouses and children under 21 are involved.


Get You Passport Stamp and Green Card

I hope this helps your understanding of the Green Card process. It is fairly complicated and is one of the reasons why lawyers start to become more necessary in these times which is unfortunate as that is an added cost to the employer and immigrant.

CJ

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Transfer to an H1B or E3 Work Visa From…

Ok this has to be one of the most common questions I get asked by everyone on this blog and is also in many of the comments I see so I thought it important to cover.

Now there are many issues with transferring and depending on the visa you want to transfer to there are different qualifying criteria so it is important to be aware  of those. I will cover this topic more in depth for specific visa classifications, particular cases like the F1 Student, J1 or H1B/E3 work visas as they tend to be the most common that people want to transfer too while still in the country.

A change of status is not automatically granted even if you qualify and the USCIS will also determine on your unique case how long to extend your visa period for even if it is granted. It is all very arbitrary sometimes but generally you will be successful if they deem your intentions to be genuine and you have not done anything wrong under your current status.

You should not that there are certain visa categories you cannot transfer from while in the US so you have no choice under these visas to leave the US to apply for a new visa.

This includes;
C Visa (aliens in transit)
D Visa (usually for flight/ship staff, etc.)
K1/K2 (fiancee visa and dependent of fiancee)
S Visa (witness or informant)
TWOV (transit without visa)
Tourist under waiver program classified when you receive GREEN I-94W form when you enter US
Also; to note;
J1 visa can’t transfer/extend if they are subject to the 2 year residency rule (unless they have followed the long government channels to get this condition revoked)
M1 vocational visa can’t transfer to F1 student visa. They also can’t transfer to H visa category where the training helped them qualify for the H visa.  ( the M visa is used for things like pilot training, etc.)

Essentially there are some other basic requirements you must meet to also change your status such as;
– Have entered the US legally
– Not have done anything in the US to immediately disqualify you from consideration
– No factor requiring you to leave the US prior to re-entry and admission under your new status (often determined by USCIS)
– You have submitted your application prior to the expiration date recorded on your I-94 form given to you and stamped/dated when you entered the US (usually stapled inside you passport near you current visa)

NB: Your passport must be valid for your entire stay of applied period for your new visa

TO BEGIN TRANSFER

You have to file form I-129 to the USCIS for the categories below and this approval for the change of status has to be approved before you can begin peforming the activities under your new non-immigrant visa category.
If you have a spouse/dependents they need to file form I-539 to change their status. It is a good idea if this is your case to file all together so they are judged at the same time. All dependents can be filed on the same I-539 form.

The is the list requiring the I-129 form filing:
E1/E2 (Treaty Traders and Investors)
E3 (Australian temporary worker)
H1B/H2A/H2B/H3 (Temporary Workers)
L1A/L1B (Intracompany Transferee)
O1/O2 (Aliens with Extraordinary Ability)
P1/P2/P3 (Athletes & Entertainers)
Q1 (International Cultural Exchange)
R1 (Religious Workers)
TN1/TN-2 (Canadians & Mexicans covered under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA))

To qualify for the visa categories below you have to file form I-539.

A (Diplomatic & Other Government   Officials, Immediate Family members, Employees)
B1/B2 (Visitors for Business or Pleasure)
E (Treaty Traders & Investors Dependents Only)
F (Academic Students & Dependents)
G (Foreign Government Officials & Certain Immediate Family Members)
H4 (Temporary Worker Dependents Only)
K3/K4 (Spouse of U.S. Citizen & Minor Child Accompanying)
L2 (Intracompany Transferee Dependents Only)
M (Vocational & Language Students and Dependents)
N (Parents & Children of Certain People  Who Have Been Granted Special   Immigrant Status)
NATO (NATO Representatives, Officials,  Employees, and Immediate Family Members)
O3 (Aliens with Extraordinary Ability Dependents Only)
P4 (Athletes and Entertainer Dependents Only)
R2 (Religious Worker Dependents Only)
TD (TN Dependents Only)

It is recommended by the USCIS to file about 60 days prior to your date on your I-94 expiring. You can still stay in the US while your case is pending even if this is beyond your expiration date on your I-94. However during this time you will be considered not under any non-immigrant status and not be able to perform any activities (i.e. study, work. etc.) until your case is approved.

To check the status of your case, you will be mailed a receipt with a number on it which you can input on the uscis.gov website to see what is happening with your application. There is a part on the website regarding how long each of the various centers take to process these applications but generally if everything is in order it can often be done in less than a few weeks.
For students there is usually some sort of early inital approval you can receive so you can begin studies at the start of a semester.

In your application you will send your current I-94 form and be mailed a new one with a new date if you are approved under your new status. If you are denied you immediately considered ‘out of status’ and legally are required to leave … although many of course decide now to illegally stay longer.

It can always be good (and at time frustrating but necessary 🙂 ) to call the USCIS in these situation so there number if you are calling within the US is 1800-375-5283

I hope this helped provide information helpful to you and let me know if you want to cover other general parts of the process.

CJ

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