USA Green Card Process – PWD, PERM, i140 Portability

US Green card process H1B PERM, I140 & I485. Minimum processing time = 2 yrs. Max = Country of birth queue. Longest waiting time for India & china EB2, EB3.

Written by Anil Gupta
  By Anil Gupta          Updated  15 Mar, 20 #green card #H1B work visa


Apply for Green card while you are in USA working on H1B or L1 work visas. Employer sponsored GC process has 3 main steps:

#1 US Green Card PERM

PERM labor certification processing can take up-to 15 months (1.2 years) in total with No premium processing available.

PERM process has multiple sub-steps and all have to be completed by your sponsoring employer, usually the H1B or L1 sponsor.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issues PERM to certify that there are no qualified Americans available or qualified to perform the job, and that hiring a foreign national will not harm the wages and working conditions of American workers.

#A PERM Publish job advertisements 2-3 months

PERM meaning: The employer has to show recruitment efforts, including publishing two Sunday newspaper ads, over a period of 2 to 3 months before the PERM application can be filed.

The employer’s financial documents are required to prove their ability to pay the wage offered at the time of PERM filing.

You can start PERM when an H-1B transfer is under process.

All the paper work for the job applications received, interviews taken (if any) and interview rejections (if any) have to be maintained by HR.
DOL (Department of Labor) can ask for all these if your case comes under Audit later.

PERM can be filed even if you are outside US or have not joined the employer in US yet.

#B PERM Prevailing Wage Determination 1-3 months

Prevailing Wage Determination identifies the minimum salary that an employee should get at the work location (city) that your employer wants you to work.

Check current prevailing wage determination time here.

#C File PERM with DOL

Your employer might ask you to get the Skill letter for Green card and ‘Experience letters’ from your past 5 working years. Note that Skill letter is different than Experience letter.

These letters are not required immediately, but would be required if your PERM application is selected for audit.

The PERM application is generally filed electronically; and the DOL (Department of labor) reviews the application and requests an audit, or issues the certification.

There is no filing fee for PERM. You can file 7th year H1B extension if your PERM is pending for 365+ days including Audit.

#2 Form I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition

i140 processing time is 6-8 months in regular application. i140 premium processing gets approval in 15 days.

I-140 application is filed by sponsoring employer and locks your Green card priority date. You can apply H1B transfer using pending I-140 at the time of job change.

The i-140 approval notice shows GC priority date, immigrant visa category, and country of charge-ability. The I-140 must application has to be supported by the approved PERM application.

Sample i797 approval for I140:

Sample i140 approval notice - i797
Sample i140 approval notice – i797

Spouses of H1B worker with approved I-140 approved can file for H4-EAD work permit.

#3 I-485 Green Card Application 12-15 months

Form i485 can be filed to get US green card when your country’s priority date becomes current.
USCIS issues an immigrant visa (called Green Card) to the applicant and any dependents (spouse and/or children) under 21).

The status of the applicant is adjusted from “non-immigrant” to “immigrant.” (Lawful permanent resident status).

I-485 fees

Current i485 filing fees

I-485 EAD card

i485 EAD processing time is usually 90 days. i485 EAD is issued for period of 1-2 year and can be renewed until i485 is pending.

I-485 Processing Time

I485 processing time varies from 10 to 12 months depending on your priority date remaining current at the time of approval for your country of birth.

The USCIS will send the actual “green” card within 1 to 3 months or the applicant can go to their local CIS office to have his or her passport stamped at that time to permit foreign travel.

The employee should show their Green Card to the H.R. department to update I-9 form.

Green Card Processing Time?

The total time from start to finish for an employer sponsored Green card is based on the country of birth specific queue. Most of the countries have immediate GC availability except China & India.

India has the longest waiting time in terms of GC availability.

What this means is that if you are an Indian and started the GC process in 2019, you can’t file i485 application unless your country’s Priority date date reaches 2019.
So, the total time apart from the timings mentioned above (for 3 mandatory paper work) is this waiting time for your country’s queue to reach your year.

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  40 Useful Questions & Answers

  1. Parminder Kaur
    Parminder Kaur 11 Nov, 19 at 3:20 pm

    Hi, i would like to know about something my fiance have applied for. He have applied for the green card but in an application which shows the days of processing, earlier it was near about 200 days, but few days ago the application has rolled back and has again started from Day 1. Why this has happened, and what does it means? Is it having any bad effect or will take it take more time to process? Please answer my question as soon as possible.

  2. divya nathan
    divya nathan 6 Nov, 19 at 1:45 pm

    Hi Anil,
    My name is Divya and am from Phoenix. I wanted to reach out to you for your advise as am in a very panicky situation in regards to my PERM process.
    My employer has filed my PERM on Oct 4th 2019 and my original max out date is Dec 29th 2019. while I was getting ready to leave for India on Nov 28th 2019 to recapture some time, my immigration team determined that my new max out date is Jan 29th 2020. That extension petition has now run into an RFE and they are suggesting that I should not leave the country in this case. What are my options now?

    What if the RFE results in a Denial after Dec 29th and before Jan 29th . I believe I would have to leave the country immediately and will have 60 days time to be on a Loss of Pay and I140 and consequent extension should be taken care of within 60 days?
    Even if my PERM gets approved by Jan 1st week, is it true that I have only 60 days where I can be on a loss of pay and in India till my I140 and consequent extension is filed?
    what if that 7th year extension runs into an RFE and I exhaust those 60 days in India and get stuck there?
    Kindly suggest. As my family is here, I am in a mess with hardly any help or support from my employer.

    Thank you once again.

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 11 Nov, 19 at 3:20 pm

      Please do not write same question at multiple place. We count it as spam. Your same question has already been answered on forum here.

  3. Premnath
    Premnath 21 Jul, 19 at 5:50 pm

    Hi, Currently im servicing H1B bond period for 2 yrs with employer A. This employer A has my Indian bond got signed from my dad for some compensation amount. Im having few questions here.
    1. If i break the bond do my Dad needs to pay the amount ? Is that legal?
    2. If i leave employer A and joins employer B , im for sure that the employer A will hold my Indian experience letter (which is for 1.3 yrs). Will they also hold my US experience letter?
    3. For green card processing is it mandatory to submit the Indian experience letter from employer A?
    Note : My total experience is 9 years. I have all other experience letters from previous organisations.

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 21 Jul, 19 at 7:05 pm

      There is no Employment bond applicable in US.

      Giving experience letter depends on the company. It is not a requirement in law. Law is only for making salary payments.

      For Green card processing, you only need last 5 years work experience to prove H1B specialty occupation at this time.

  4. Steven Shannon
    Steven Shannon 31 May, 19 at 1:39 pm

    If one spouse is on a H1B (EB3) with approved PERM and the other spouse is on a TN, what would you suggest for the next steps. Assuming I-140 gets approved (possibly premium processing with consular processing). What is the best steps to include the TN spouse in the spouses EB3 process without a work stoppage?

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 31 May, 19 at 2:10 pm

      You will need H4 EAD to work after getting dependent visa.

      If you expect the EB3 to be current and file i485 immediately after i140 approval, you can apply for spouse i485 and EAD as well.

      Once you get i485 EAD or green card, you can start working.

      • Steven Shannon
        Steven Shannon 31 May, 19 at 6:25 pm

        We expect EB3 to be current. So to your knowledge there is no way that the spouse on the TN will be able to avoid losing their current employment through the process. Meaning if they need to switch to H4 and wait for the EAD it would be a lengthy delay in work.

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 31 May, 19 at 10:00 pm

          The only way it can happen is when H4 and H4 EAD get approved the same day or with minimum gap as i see it.

  5. Anil
    Anil 2 Mar, 19 at 11:20 pm

    Hi Anil..thank you so much for the effort that you’re putting in.
    My priority date is Aug, 2011. I have approved 140 from my previous employer in EB2. My current employer filed my perm 6 months back. I am planning to file I140 in next few months.
    1.Lets say Eb3 becomes current in Feb 2020. If i have an approved 140 in Eb2 by that time, can i downgrade to Eb3 anytime after february(say april 2020) ? Does the date have to be current? Not sure how it works when dates move back.
    2. I actually got a better job opportunity now but stuck with the dilemma that i am so close to the priority date and i might miss the date during the switch. Is it wise enough to switch companies right now? (assuming new company starts the process in 6 months and i will have I140 with them by end of 2020).

    Thanks for your help!

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 2 Mar, 19 at 11:43 pm

      EB2 to EB3 downgrade is possible as and when your priority date gets current in EB3 India visa bulletin.

      As per my estimate, you have lot of time as neither EB2 India nor EB3 India will reach April 2011 in next 4 years.

      • Anil
        Anil 3 Mar, 19 at 12:36 am

        Thanks for your prompt response.
        General question, lets say Eb3 becomes current in Feb 2020. If i have an approved 140 in Eb2 by that time, can i downgrade to Eb3 anytime after february(say april 2020) ?

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 3 Mar, 19 at 11:38 am

          If you read the article that I linked earlier, it has clear answer to your scenario.

  6. JC123
    JC123 24 Feb, 19 at 9:50 pm

    Hi Anil – thank you so much for this platform and answering everyone’s questions here. I have some questions about the 180 day portability rule:

    1) It is my understanding that you may be able to change jobs after your i-485 has been pending for 180 days. What does it exactly mean for the i-485 to be “pending”? Does it mean 180 days since the day the i-485 has been filled and received by USCIS?
    2) What is the benefit of waiting for the i-485 to be pending for 180 days before changing jobs vs. changing jobs after i-140 being approved?
    3) What process must you go through with your new employer if you change jobs after 180 days of i-485 pending to continue with your GC?

    Thanks again in advance.

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 24 Feb, 19 at 10:19 pm

      The 180 day period should be counted from your i485 receipt date.

      Changing jobs after i140 approval is useful for people who’s i485 has not been filed yet as their GC priority date is not yet current.

      I have not written about the process for new employer but they need to file supplement J form with their i140 to prove that they can offer you the same or similar job that your pending i485 has been filed with.
      I will try to do a write up on list of steps soon.

      • JC123
        JC123 25 Feb, 19 at 10:34 am

        Thanks for the quick reply! I’ll be looking forward to your post with the list of steps.

        Regarding your answer to my second question, if the GC priority date is current, is there any benefit to waiting 180 days after i485 receipt date to change jobs vs. changing job after i140 approval? Or is this the same thing?

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 25 Feb, 19 at 11:24 am

          Which GC chart you are talking about?
          ‘Date of filing chart’ or ‘Final Action’ date chart?

  7. amit gupta
    amit gupta 9 Feb, 19 at 10:01 am

    HI Anil,
    I would like to appreciate you first that have been so helpful to everyone here, I am also in similar boat where I am in my 6th year and visa is valid until Nov, 19th, 2019 and my current employer is in process of filing PERM, what are the chances to get I140 approval before visa expiry, My employer is confident enough and he assure me however looking the trend past seems its edge case what happen if I140 does not approve by the time, do you have any advise me to extend my tenure to get that process done (if we need few additional weeks.) FYI – recapturing is already done so i do not have any time left, is it possible to join education (MS program) to get CPT and continue my work (with legal EAD) please advise all possible options if we go to India its big mess with family life with kids education and other logistics. response is awaited.

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 9 Feb, 19 at 10:02 am

      As per my opinion, the best option is to go to India on holiday for the time that’s falling short and then come back and recapture that time.

      The idea is to make the PERM date greater than 365 days to allow you to file at-least 1 year H1B extension.

      But, I think you can still get i140 approved (file in premium) by Nov if PERM is filed anytime in Feb.
      You can check current PERM processing time here. and i140 processing time.

      • amit gupta
        amit gupta 9 Feb, 19 at 10:11 am

        Thanks for your advise, I hope all goes well and we do not have consider other options but in case if we plan to go for holiday when should we do it as Visa expires on Nov 19th, 2019, should we come back in USA before Nov 19th? and file extension to get recapture time? and gain more time to I140 or PERM filing duration more than >365 days?

        During vacation would I be able to work for US client and get paid in US dollars?

        Also I couldn’t figure out the duration of PERM approval with the link, appreciated if you can let me know roughly? would you like to advise do’s and don’t in PERM and I140 filing so we can avoid any kind of RFE/Audit during the process.

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 9 Feb, 19 at 10:17 am

          You can go anytime before the end of 6 year H1B quota. It is better to discuss it with your employer and then plan for this holiday.

          Once you are out of US, US immigration law does not apply to you. You can work for anyone and anywhere. It is upto your employer on how to pay you money.
          Normally, on holidays, US companies do pay their employees even when they are working outside USA.

          What was the issue with PERM processing time link? It shows the current processing time and you can check it with your Receipt date and get an idea about when you can expect approval for your case.

          PERM and i140 are employer’s responsibility. You cannot do anything about it.

          • amit gupta
            amit gupta 9 Feb, 19 at 10:42 am

            My wife had a question on vacation and recapturing time, is it possible if I only go to vacation and family stays here? so less disturbance and after recapturing time, file extension for wife and daughter (H4) along with me?

            • Anil Gupta
              Anil Gupta 9 Feb, 19 at 10:43 am

              Yes, I think it’s doable. Just talk to your attorney and then plan.

  8. Vjy
    Vjy 28 Jan, 19 at 8:51 pm

    Hi Anil,
    I am currently in H1B, 6 year ends Aug 2020 and my employer has started GC process perm pending. I got another FTE offer but if I switch now, GC process needs to be started from beginning? As perm needs to be applied 365 days before expiration, is it advisable to make a switch now or wait until i140 approved from old employer?

    Thanks in advance

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 28 Jan, 19 at 8:51 pm

      Yes, the PERM has to be refiled again if you change employer now.
      The chances are low that new employer would be able to file PERM for you before Aug 2019.

      You can also file h1B 7th year extension if the i140 is approved. If the PERM is filed in Aug 2019, the chances are good that you get i140 before Aug 2020.
      Talk to your new employer to know if they will start your GC process immediately or not.

      • Vjy
        Vjy 28 Jan, 19 at 8:51 pm

        Thank you Anil for your quick response, can they start GC process before the transfer?
        My H1B transfer has not been initiated yet, new employer says they will start GC process as soon as H1B is transferred but that would further delay the process and might not be able to file PERM in Aug 2019. What would be an option? time re-capture or wait for i140 from old emp.

        Thanks again!

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 9 Feb, 19 at 10:01 am

          Legally, PERM can be filed anytime. But, the employer generally will not start it as they want employee to stick with them and GC is one of those carrots.

          Time recapture is one of the option if you do not qualify for 7th year extension due to less than 365 day PERM requirement.

          • Vjy
            Vjy 9 Feb, 19 at 10:11 am

            Thank you Anil!

  9. Tauseef Riaz
    Tauseef Riaz 22 Mar, 18 at 1:18 pm

    Hello Anil!
    Can we track Prevailing Wage Determination request? It’s been two months and my attorney is saying she have’t received it from DOL, it can take up-to 4 months.

  10. Tauseef Riaz
    Tauseef Riaz 14 Mar, 18 at 10:42 am

    Great post Anil,

    My company is going to file my PERM soon and they said they will handover the PERM to me, I have to hire my own attorney to file I-140 and to handle rest of the process.

    My question is! Can I move to another employer once I got my PERM as I will have my own attorney to work on the Green Card process.

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 14 Mar, 18 at 11:16 am

      PERM is specific to each JOB position and its employer. If you move to another employer, you will have to file PERM again for that employer’s job position.
      The only relief is that if you have passed the Step 2 i.e. I-140 from previous employer, you can use it to PORT your priority date to new employer.
      Everything else has to re-start at Step 1, if you change employer anytime.

      • Tauseef Riaz
        Tauseef Riaz 15 Mar, 18 at 8:59 am

        Thank you Anil, I have one more question. I am applying for my H1b this April and want to know if I got picked can I transfer it to a new/different company straight away or I have to wait till 1 Oct?

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 15 Mar, 18 at 9:10 am

          If approved in the current season for H1B, the validity will start from Oct 1 and you can take any action only after it is valid.

  11. Keshava
    Keshava 11 Jun, 16 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks for the post Anil.
    I’ve couple of questions, can you please help me:
    Currently I’m on H1B visa, after receiving PERM approval can I move from my current company (A) and join new company (B) ?
    If I do so:
    1.Does new company (B) should start my GC processing from first (PERM) or directly they can file I-140?
    2.Also does the ‘priority date’ I received with PERM approval from company A be still valid or will I get new priority date ?

    If I can’t do so:
    1.Do I need to wait till I receive approved I-140 with my current company (A) ?
    2.If I move to new company (B) after receiving approved I-140 from current company (A), does the new company has to again start my GC processing from first or will they have to just do kind of I-140 transfer ? How does this work?

    • Anil Gupta
      Anil Gupta 13 Jun, 16 at 8:09 am

      Hi Keshava,

      1. You should wait until you receive i-140 to PORT your priority date to company B. If you switch before getting i140 approval, you will have NO option to even port the priority date. This essentially means that if you leave after your PERM approval (and No i140) with Company A, you lose your PRIORITY date immediately as you leave company A.
      2. If you leave after i140 approval from company A, your GC process has to be re-started from STEP 1 again i.e. PERM processing. The only benefit is that you will have the option of porting your priority date to company B. Other than that, the whole process has to be re-started with each company change.

      Let me know if you need more information.

      • Keshava
        Keshava 13 Jun, 16 at 11:04 pm

        Thank you very much Anil,
        I have one more question:
        By the time I receive I140 with company A, if I complete 6 years of stay in US on H1B.
        Am I blocked with company A, till I receive EAD or GC on to hand?
        Because my H1B visa will be extended periodically using company A’s I140, and if I move out of company A my I140 will be invalid and I don’t have any more limit on H1B visa.

        How does this concept will work i.e. ‘moving from company A to company B with approved I140 in hand and 6 years stay is completed in US with H1B visa’

        I admire your inputs.

        • Anil Gupta
          Anil Gupta 14 Jun, 16 at 8:22 am

          Hi Keshava,
          If your company A ‘withdraws’ the i140, then there could be an issue.
          But, if you get the H1B transferred to Company B before resigning (i mean wait till you REALLY get the approval in your hand), you would be safe.
          This way, you would get 3 year extension on your H1B even after 6 years, then you can move to Company B and re-start the GC process.
          These 3 years would be enough to file new PERM and get a new i140 (company B).

          Does that answer your question?

          • Keshava
            Keshava 14 Jun, 16 at 10:56 pm

            Thanks for your reply Anil.
            Indeed, it answered my question.

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