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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.


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.


H-1B Visa Season – Will You Get a US Visa This Year?

It is April 3 today and there has been no official announcement from the United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) that any caps have been reached for the H-1B petitions filed from April 1, 2009 for FY2010.

However this is not entirely surprising given that the precedent of last year suggests that they will assess the US Masters degree holders first and then any spillover from the 20,000 available H-1B visas here will go into the wider pool of 65,000 H-1B visas and the probably H-1B Visa Lottery. We have actually documented a full description of the H-1B Visa FY2010 Quotas and probable process.

Of course the H-1B visa and US Immigration policy in general are hot topics in the news at the moment and some interesting facts have come to light that further dispels the myths spread by politicians, media and general ignorant fearmongers.

Microsoft, who is one of the consistent top employers of H-1B visas in terms of overall numbers have suggested due to economic reasons more than anything else they will submit fewer applications this year than in recent years. However also via their PR people have suggested they will still have a strong presence which will be part of an overall job growth for the company in 2009. Most of these hires will be US workers.

They went on to state in their advocacy for the H-1B visa, that while the number of visa holders is very small compared to the US workforce, their contribution is huge. Last year alone 35 per cent of Microsoft’s patent applications in the US came from new inventions by visa and green card holders. The situation at other US technology leaders is probably very similar.

He went on to say that a recent study, he argued, found that for every H-1B position requested, US technology companies increase their employment by five new jobs.

Of course you will never here esteemed politicians or elements of the media quote any of this in their blame the immigrant for all ills of society mentality.

The additional hysteria about Indian multi national companies dominating the H-1B visa numbers is also a moot point when you consider between 2006 to 2008, their share of H-1B visa declined 27%.

The Obama administration has been relatively quiet about the whole H-1B visa issue and probably for political reasons as much as anything else. However one course of action suggests they will continue to support the process as the Bush Administration did before it. The Bush administration’s moved to increase the amount of time foreign nationals with engineering, science and other technical degrees can work in the U.S. on student visas from one year to 29 months under the OPT (Occupational Practical Training) program following graduation has been supported by Obama’s administration in court cases by anti immigration advocacy groups in court.

No doubt the H-1B visa quota will be reached very soon and I wish all the applicants for FY2010 the best in their application and their dream to begin a new life in the US!! 🙂