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.